The Midlands has faired comparatively well during the recession with most of the larger commercial firms continuing to recruit throughout the last three to four years.
This buoyancy has been due mainly to the shake-out in the London market. With many high calibre solicitors entering the recruitment arena, Midlands firms have been able to strengthen their profiles in key areas and are now attracting work nationwide – including the City.
Recently there has been a further upturn in recruitment activity, and many Midlands' firms indicate that expansion through recruitment is now firmly on the agenda.
Practitioners who have gained their experience with City or other large regional firms are attracted to the Midlands because they see the region as lean, competitive and client focused, expanding, and challenging City complacency.
One important event in recent years has been the entry into the market of Dibb Lupton Broomhead through its merger with the top six Birmingham firm, Needham and James. This firm has strong growth targets and has recruited in all commercial areas, a situation which it says will continue for the foreseeable future.
Demand for recruitment has increased most in all corporate and commercial areas. A very strong market has developed for specialists in non-contentious work, an area which suffered during the recession.
Commercial litigation continues to be an area of high demand and there is a very competitive market for the most able candidates. There are currently a number of attractive opportunities in defendant insurance litigation, IP and construction litigation.
This year has witnessed the re-emergence of a steady stream of recruitment at the newly qualified level, mainly for those wishing to specialise in commercial property, followed by company/ commercial.
At partner level, the ability to add value to a firm by securing and building client relationships, practice development and marketing skills is still paramount. Excellent opportunities exist at this level.
However, this concept of "added value" has now filtered down to the two-to-three year qualified level of recruitment.
Recruitment opportunities in the Midlands for individuals and firms are at their most positive for some years. Competition between firms for the best candidates is fierce, so it is in their interests to ensure their recruitment methods and strategies are given the highest priority in order to stay competitive.
Karl Wellman-Smith is founder and managing director of Wellman-Smith Professional Recruitment.