It’s great to be back and Paul and I are very much looking forward to working with our clients and candidates again in 2018. It is traditional at this time of year to reflect on the past 12 months and set goals for the future. I thought I’d use this blog to look back on 2017 and explain why 2018 promises to be an exciting year at Think Legal.
We have been very fortunate that the relationships we have developed over many years working with the legal industry in Manchester has afforded us the chance to help some of the leading legal professionals in this city. 2017 was no exception – we have been able to grow our business focusing on our core values of integrity, honesty, knowledge and personality. As always we have had fun along the way and hopefully if you worked with us in 2017 our sense of enjoyment shone through!
I would characterise 2017 as one of cautious optimism within commercial legal circles in Manchester. There is no doubt that Brexit uncertainty looms large but this has not stopped many of our core clients from seeking to grow their market share, recognising Manchester as a dynamic legal centre and a great place to do business.
As usual here in Manchester, 2017 was one of significant change. CMS LLP was born from the combined entity of Nabarro, CMS and Olswang creating one of the largest law firms in the world. Manchester has been identified as an area for growth for the new entity and I would expect this growth to continue apace in the year ahead. Other newer entrants to Manchester such as BLP, Freshfields, Latham & Watkins and Browne Jacobson have all sought to continue to grow and JMW have expanded to the extent that they have now taken extra office space in 3 Hardman Street.
There has been significant recruitment at Addleshaw Goddard in key disciplines as well as Mills & Reeve and Field Fisher. Eversheds merged with Sutherland adding to its international dimension and 2017 also saw a number start-ups such as Beyond Corporate and more mergers such as Kennedys buying Berg Legal. There have also been a number of senior lateral hire moves across the board, the reverberations from which will be felt well into this year.
Paul and I both recognise we are lucky to work in such a dynamic, diverse and interesting market. We have enjoyed working with both our larger firm client base as well as a number of corporate and commercial boutiques, who themselves offer fantastic career opportunities to aspiring lawyers. Despite this positivity talent supply problems persist. This is frustrating for all of us and reflects under investment for a number of years at the junior end of the profession. We believe 2018 will be no different and firms will have to think creatively and be as flexible as possible to attract and retain the best available talent.
Talent shortages inevitably put upward pressure on salaries and this was clearly reflected across a number of disciplines in 2017. Despite this, I would say that culture and working flexibility are the key things that motivate today’s junior lawyers. The firms that recognise that for many lawyers, partnership is not only seen as unobtainable but also unattractive, and put in place attraction and retention policies to reflect this will have a better chance of succeeding in 2018.
The big unknown of course is Brexit. While the market was cautiously optimistic in 2017, I think the sooner transition arrangements can be announced this year the better. Despite this, given the demand for legal advice delivered in Manchester, the dynamic nature of our legal market, and supply side pressures in terms of talent, I am optimistic that once again 2018 will be an exciting and interesting year and that Manchester will remain a great place to do business.
2018 also promises to be an exciting year for Think Legal as we look to grow our business with new hires and investment of our own. We will have the challenges (and opportunities!) of the implementation of GDPR (any advice always welcome!) and the chance to develop on the strong base we’ve created over the last 2 years. Paul and I very much look forward to working with you in the year ahead and wish you all the best for 2018.
Joe Gregory – firstname.lastname@example.org