With many firms looking to boost their funds practices, there is plenty of demand for lawyers with funds expertise.
“Funds is a popular area in terms of recruitment,” says Jenny McKinley of recruitment consultancy Pro-Legal. “While large City firms frequently look for talented lawyers in the market, it’s been notably US and other City firms expanding their offerings recently.”
Associates in demand
This has generated an increasing demand for associates in the sector, notes Joanna Yardley of DMJ Recruitment.
“We’re seeing US firms seeking employees to support partners they’ve hired in the past 12 months, and [also] hiring from UK law firms as they replace staff they lost to US firms in recent times.”
But when it comes to moving firms, Yardley stresses that is it important to think before you act.
“As well as due diligence and research, candidates should be looking beyond the salary package before being tempted to make a move,” she says. “While it’s easy to be drawn into lucrative pay offers by US firms, other factors ought to take priority. For example, is there a future for me in this firm? Am I a good cultural fit?”
Funds is not just a London thing, notes Liam Taaffe at GMK.
“My clients are instructing a high volume of newly created positions in Luxembourg and Switzerland, with the intention to relocate UK lawyers from leading law firms. A number of highly regarded funds lawyers in London are contacting me regarding opportunities in Luxembourg, Geneva and Zurich.”
McKinley notes that there are growing opportunities further east.
“Funds is a strong area with offshore firms, but a growing need for talented lawyers remains in the Middle East and Asia,” she says. “In particular, alternative investment funds - including private equity - distressed debt, emerging markets, real estate and fund of funds, hedge funds and committed funds. There’s been a demand for junior fund lawyers, particularly in the Channel Islands.”
There are also a number of in-house opportunities available, notes Laila Martin, manager at Shilton Sharpe Quarry.
“There’s an appetite for regulatory experience, especially in Ucits [Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities]. There’s a small pool of candidates with this experience, especially in private practice, so if candidates can gain exposure to Ucits it will make them attractive for in-house moves.” Hedge funds is an area for lawyers to consider when thinking of moving in-house, notes Taaffe.
“The majority of hedge funds instructed recruitment freezes in Q4 2011, with still little or no sign of immediate change,” says Taafee. “Roles in London tend to be three to six years’ PQE, with a focus on asset management. Lawyers considering making a career change into compliance are highly sought-after by leading hedge funds in London and overseas.”