As we move into the new financial year, I wanted to look back at the past 12 months and reflect on the legal recruitment market here in Devon. It’s actually been quite a crazy year, in a number of ways!

Thinking back to last Spring and Summer, there were firms really pushing brave salary increases across the county, creating a bit of a salary increase race across the sector. The large firms really pushed ahead with this and have now ended up with an extremely competitive offering, which was needed when some of the Bristol firms had previously upped their salary packages quite dramatically. This has helped many of our local lawyers, particularly with the sharp rise in living costs and energy prices.

I will never forget that two of my candidates who were due to join one of my clients last Summer were called just a few days before they were due to start, to be told that their respective salaries would be £10,000 MORE than their initial offer which they were expecting to earn! I’ve never had this before in recruitment and it was a real life-changing moment for both of my candidates to be joining this firm.

There was a worry that some of the smaller firms might have been forced into their own salary increases to compete, particularly as an economic downturn loomed towards the end of the year, maybe largely down to the catastrophic “Trussonomics” episode and the following interest rate hikes. One of the more local firms increased their newly qualified salaries by around 16%, with the aim of competing with the larger firms. This was a brave move, but possibly one they needed to make, as they felt they were losing some of their junior lawyers to some of the larger firms. Hopefully this will have worked for them.

Then came the downturn… which didn’t seem to last very long. Back in November, I noticed that law firms in Devon became cautious with recruitment. There were still jobs available, but not as many, while the firms became much slower to react to strong candidate applications, as they navigated their way through December and January. Since February, things seem to have really picked up again and the number of vacancies is growing again. The workload doesn’t seem to have slowed, from when we’re speaking to our clients, but with the media talks of a recession, it was only right to be cautious. As the work continues to come in though, firms have grown in confidence and are now looking to increase headcount again.

The new financial year is shaping up nicely for Aspiria Recruit, as we work hard to continue supporting law firms and legal professionals across Devon. With the addition of Stephanie Sawers, who launched our offering in Plymouth (and Cornwall) in January, it’s an exciting time for the business, as we build relationships with their law firms and legal professionals, replicating the same approach and values that I’ve brought to helping and supporting the Exeter market

If you’re looking to explore your career options and if you’d benefit from a confidential chat to assess the market, please get in touch!

James Kapadia

t: 01392 716 991

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