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Law firms have remained cautiously optimistic about job prospects for future trainee solicitors despite new research, which found that there will be significantly fewer graduate jobs this year.
According to research published by High Fliers last week the UKs top graduate employers have slashed their recruitment targets by 17 per cent for 2009. The hardest hit sector is investment banking where entry-level vacancies have been cut by a whopping 44 per cent in 2008-09. Retailing and accountancy and professional services are also suffering with vacancies dropping by 26 and 15 per cent respectively for the same period.
Victoria Wisson, graduate recruitment officer at CMS Cameron McKenna (pictured), told Lawyer2B.com that prospects look better in the legal sector thanks to its unique recruitment cycle.
We're lucky in law as we recruit two years in advance and are really stable. We won't be cutting numbers and are expecting an increase in the volume of applications as people who would have looked towards investment banking, for example, try to find alternative, challenging and academic careers, explained Wisson.
Wissons counterpart at a rival firm added: "We haven't made any final decisions about the number of graduates we're going to be taking on yet but I think we will be keeping a similar number. You need trainees to bolster the junior end of the team so it will be business as usual for us.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) show that the number of training contract places continued to increase last year. I the year 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008 6,303 training contracts were registered. This is up from 6,012 in the previous 12 months, and 5,751 the year before that.
There is currently no data available for the number of training contract vacancies that are available this year.
Deborah Dalgleish, head of UK trainee recruitment at magic circle law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said: "I think most firms will steer a fairly steady course through the next few years if they possibly can; no-one is particularly keen to make the mistakes of the early nineties recession when recruitment was drastically curtailed, resulting in a shortage of junior lawyers in the mid to late nineties and the resulting rapid escalation in salaries."
"In any other industry sector, you could expect a much more immediate reaction to market conditions in graduate recruitment; but we have to plan for what we think the firm will need four or five years down the line," added Dalgleish.
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