The traffic in legal talent has turned towards Dublin as 'London burnout' is cited by recruiters.
Suzanne Feeney, director of legal, compliance and financial services at Robert Walters, says that there is a surge in demand in the capital for lawyers with experience in commercial law, property, funds, IT, intellectual property and data privacy.
"There is movement in both private practice and in-house with significant demand for expertise in these areas of law," Suzanne says. Those with two to five years' experience post-qualification are most heavily in demand.
Laura Tierney, manager of the legal division, notes that during the economic downturn, lawyers had moved away from working in construction law and as a result there is a considerable shortage of solicitors with post-qualification experience in this area.
Suzanne explains: "Robert Walters has a global presence and we have access to legal talent in a number of jurisdictions which increases the candidate pool.
"Experience in Britain is most transferrable although there is renewed interest for lawyers from Australia and New Zealand.”
Laura comments “There are many Irish legal professionals who emigrated to London over the past eight years because opportunities here were limited. Many are now looking to move home, for both family and professional reasons and there are significant career opportunities available to them."
Suzanne has also seen firms and employers consider offering relocation packages to attract very specialist and experienced legal professionals. "During 2017 we have seen employers offer relocation assistance as firms compete to attract the best talent."
Michael Minogue of Brightwater recruits legal professionals for both practice and in-house clients, and acts as account manager for the majority of top commercial law firms in Dublin. He says that even small- and mid-tier firms are now turning to recruitment agencies to find staff, a sign of how strong the market has become for legal talent.
He sees what he calls London burnout, where expat professionals with four to five years’ experience turn their thoughts towards home, realising that they don’t want to stay away in the long term.
“There is a huge influx from Britain and it’s not just because of Brexit,” he says.
But he sounds a note of caution. The roles available are highly specialist and not suitable to those in general practice.
“Doing a diploma in aircraft leasing won’t land a specialist job, if the previous experience is in general practice.
“Candidates need to come from the larger commercial firms, or to have trained with them.
“The candidates we deal with are from the London Magic Circle or Silver Circle,” Minogue points out, “and they need the exposure to that large commercial firm background.”
The areas where Minogue see demand are data protection, because of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation which takes effect in 2018, funds, commercial property, intellectual property and tech law.
“Our candidates are secure in their roles in London, but they are making a personal decision to return to Ireland because they are not going to settle down over there.”
And Minogue says that LinkedIn is one of his key recruitment tools. “LinkedIn has made it easier to find the candidates we need.”
And he confirms that relocation packages are now a factor in negotiations.
“They are common enough though not guaranteed,” he says.