Stay put – unless you want to work abroad

Stay put – unless you want to work abroadNow is not the best time to resign, even if you do not like your job. News that 30 real estate jobs are under threat at Wragge & Co (, 22 September) is indicative of the current climate.

As The Lawyer reported last week, the majority of the 440 jobs that are expected to go in firms nationwide will be in real estate, with residential ­conveyancing ­taking the greatest hit. Other practice groups to have been ­affected since the credit crunch hit include technology at DLA Piper and corporate at Halliwells.

However, after studying the ­recruitment advertising placed in The Lawyer last week, real estate was found to be one of the areas with the greatest opportunities, with 16 per cent of private practice positions being in this field. This figure may seem high but it is worth ­noting that this included planning and environmental work, which are not so dependent on the debt capital markets and more reliant on public funding.

The results are also skewed by the demand for candidates to work outside the UK. Across all private practice sectors, around a fifth of jobs advertised are abroad and around half of those are in the booming Middle East.

Around a third of all private practice jobs are in the UK regions. Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Scotland all offer opportunities. With London house prices still high relative to income, especially for those at the lower end of the PQE scale, and mortgages hard to come by, it might be time to move to where the cost of living is more manageable.

Common sense dictates that more jobs are available in areas such as insolvency and restructuring and litigation. In times of economic uncertainty the demand for these jobs is indeed healthy, but not ­overwhelming. Around 6 per cent of jobs are in the former category, while 10 per cent are in the latter.

Banking and finance lawyers are also in demand as the practice area endures its most volatile month in living memory. Financial markets have been on a wild ride, set in motion by the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the takeovers of AIG, Merrill Lynch and HBOS. Banking and finance accounts for 17 per cent of all ­private practice jobs advertised.

But Lehman lawyers looking for other in-house opportunities may find that ­supply outstrips demand. There were only 38 jobs advertised in-house last week ­covering organisations working across all sectors. But those who are prepared to move abroad may be in good stead. Almost 20 per cent of in-house jobs are abroad, with locations including ­Australia, Denmark and Switzerland. ­Private practice offers even more exotic locations, such as the Cayman Islands.