Banner Default Image

The Legal Job Market: New Zealand and the United Kingdom 

Share this article

Markus Winkler Cxo R55 Bels Unsplash

As a firm specialising in legal recruitment, we have our fingers on the pulse of the legal job market in New Zealand and the UK. Despite challenges posed by COVID-19 these past couple of years, we’ve observed some positive trends for lawyers in the New Zealand market. While doing an OE in the UK has been a trend prior to COVID, we’re starting to see a new trend emerging. 

What’s happening in the UK Legal Market?

There have been whispers of recession, news of some firms making cuts and we have heard quite mixed reviews from candidates making the move over.  The market is definitely not as strong as it was a year ago, but it is not all doom and gloom.

In the current UK market, the corporate and transactional roles have seen a bit of a slow down with the main focus in the corporate world now on more Senior Associate positions in London. 

While the market for corporate lawyers may not be as hot as it used to be, litigation and arbitration remains busy, along with other areas such as Employment, TMT/IP/Data, Construction and Real estate (both contentious and non-contentious) and insolvency. 

Is the New Zealand Legal Market slowing down?

This is probably one of the most common questions we have been getting from candidates this year, whilst there have been some shifts in the market and areas of demand, we are definitely not seeing a slow down in terms of opportunities.

New Zealand offers a strong and growing legal market with plenty of new opportunities available in Litigation, Insolvency, Construction, and Resource Management. Despite a slight slowdown at the start of the year due to the wet weather, the market has picked up significantly, with more job openings than this time last year. Good lawyers are always in demand in New Zealand, providing opportunities to work on interesting and complex legal work. 

We have seen more opportunities for junior lawyers and with the shortage of lawyers in the intermediate to senior level, this means junior lawyers are now getting more hands-on work, client contact and access to bigger and better work than ever before. Lawyers not going overseas are also getting the opportunity to fast-track their career growth and many firms are now offering promotions to Senior and Senior Associate titles far earlier than in pre-covid times and based more on merit.

Commercial property remains quite steady in New Zealand, and while transactional roles have slowed slightly, firms are opting for more junior to senior-level positions, offering opportunities for lawyers to advance their careers. 

With changes coming up in the Resource Management Act, the demand for Resource Management lawyers has also increased in New Zealand and if you practice in this area now is your chance to capitalise on this surge in demand and really progress your career in this space. 

Has the allure of working overseas worn off?

The new trend we are seeing for talented lawyers seems to now be taking a three-month break to travel overseas and fully enjoy Europe, then returning to New Zealand instead of working overseas. 

The great thing about this, is candidates can secure a role now, giving them job security for when they return. This offers a fantastic opportunity for lawyers to explore the world while still advancing their careers. 

While the UK is a global hub for legal work, it can also be competitive and fast paced. By comparison, New Zealand offers a more relaxed and enjoyable pace of life, allowing for a better work life balance. 

What’s next for me?

If there is anything you wish you could change about your current role, now is your chance to have your say and create the role that fits with your career and life goals. 

If you would like to explore opportunities or the current market or just like a confidential conversation around career options and whether or not to head overseas, get in touch for a confidential conversation. 

Let us help you take your legal career to the next level in 2023.