Australia’s legal market has had a busy start to the year, with law firms across the sector making high-profile hires. Transactional departments remain a strategic focus and firms are expanding into traditional support groups to better service corporate clients.

As of late February 2022, we have already seen at least 23 reported partner moves. This level of activity is very high compared to pre-pandemic levels, showing that law firms are looking to invest in growth through high-profile hires and have the cash reserves to follow through.

It’s not just top-tier legal firms that are looking to strengthen their teams. The spread of hiring spans the full spectrum of law firms, suggesting that every segment of the legal sector is taking advantage of a booming market.

Major legal recruitment moves so far this year include:

  • Allens hires a partner into its tax team
  • Ashurst hires two partners into its risk advisory team and one partner into its financial services team
  • Baker McKenzie hires partners into its environmental, social and corporate governance teams
  • Corrs hires two partners into its national energy and national resources practice group and one partner into the banking and finance team
  • DLA hires a partner for its real estate team
  • G+T hires one partner into a consulting role
  • Holding Redlich hires a partner into its workplace relations team
  • HSF hires a special counsel into its work health and safety team
  • JWS hires two partners into its tax team
  • Maddocks hires two special counsel into its corporate and commercial team
  • Mills Oakley hires a partner for its insurance group
  • MinterEllison hires a partner into its corporate finance team
  • Piper Alderman hires one partner and team in its planning and environment group
  • Wotton + Kearney hires two partners into its health, medical negligence and personal injury litigation team

Recent hiring activity has centred on the strategically important banking, corporate finance, insurance and employment segments, showing potential areas of further growth and ongoing recruitment.

This follows reports in the Australian Financial Review that corporate M&A and transactional finance teams in top-tier firms made the majority of significant hires in late 2021.

These teams are traditionally the largest groups within the top tiers and ‘feed’ other departments with clients.

The shift of hiring activity this year into ‘support’ groups shows ongoing demand by clients to do more work with one entity, as opposed to relying on multiple specialist firms. Consequently, we expect to see ongoing hiring activity in top-tier firms across all practice areas this year.

Talk to us!

Are you looking for career advice or recruitment insights for the legal sector? Reach out to Thomas Eckardt and Kumara Mallikaaratchi for more information.