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Graduate recruitment partners at the UK’s leading law firms have said that they are “cautiously optimistic” about 2010 as the legal industry begins to show signs of life.
Although many firms have admitted that the legal sector’s not quite clear of the worst ravages of the recession as it moves into the next decade, graduate recruitment partners are positive that 2010 will bring with it a flood of applications and a larger talent pool.
Linklaters’ graduate recruitment partner Matthew Keats admitted: “We anticipate that although 2010 will continue to be a competitive year for those seeking training contracts with law firms it should be considerably better than 2009. For graduates with strong applications the opportunities are definitely still there.”
Despite predictions in early 2009 that training contract applications would soar as a result of the investment banking industry scaling back graduate recruitment programmes, many leading law firms said they received a similar number of applications in summer 2009 as in previous years.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s graduate recruitment partner Simon Johnson said that although his firm would be reducing its numbers from 100 to 90, he expects 2010 to be the year that applications rise.
He said: “I think a lot of people were sitting on the fence last year and many used it as an opportunity to do post graduate study. But graduates need to be cautiously optimistic about 2010 as we’re recruiting for three or four years ahead and I think things will have picked up by then, especially with firms that do a lot of restructuring and even M&A has started to show signs of life.”
LG’s graduate recruitment partner Geoff Gouriet has also predicted that many firms will look to toughen their already strict graduate recruitment criteria in a bid to stem the expected flood of candidates returning from gap years following the legal market’s biggest-ever trainee deferral programmes.”
Hammonds’ newly elected graduate recruitment partner Mike Butler said 2010 would be a “balancing act” for many firms who deferred trainees in 2009 but were still recruiting in 2010.
“We’ve actually extended some of our client secondments from three months to six to deal with this. But I don’t think it’s going to be all doom and gloom in 2010 because we know what to expect and we, along with graduates coming into the market, are going into 2010 with eyes wide open.”