Although the growth of the international firms tends to dominate headlines, the strong national and boutique “mid market” practices have also been putting the squeeze on the top tier and this is a trend that is set to continue. As decidedly more adaptable organisations, these firms continue to provide opportunities for lawyers seeking quality of work, opportunity to grow a practice, and a more balanced lifestyle. Mid tier firms tend to prosper off strong local relationships with institutional and government clients, and with continued pressure on in-house counsel to minimise legal spend, the flexibility of mid market firms to respond to these market changes has also seen an increase in specialised work flowing to them. We are now seeing firms with increasingly strong practices in construction, property projects, banking & finance, TMT and competition as this trend continues beyond the GFC.
Remuneration levels for mid-level and Senior Associate lawyers in medium-sized firms also rival the national top tiers, particularly when billable hours are taken into account.
In spite of recent reports of a drop in market confidence and predictions of a downturn in hiring within the mid-tier market, we are seeing those firms with strong national practices and institutional or government clients regularly hiring quality candidates. Several firms have plans for strategic growth and building quality requires careful recruitment. Such firms have budgets to attract excellent practitioners with ambition, drive and flexibility.
Lateral partner hires from top tiers are prominent with firms like Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Middletons, HWL Ebsworth, Johnson Winter & Slattery and Maddocks having added partners in key growth areas from Blake Dawson, Freehills and Baker & McKenzie in the past year.
If a move into the mid-tier is something you are considering please call one of our consultants on (02) 9266 2900 so we can keep you informed as positions arise.
For stories like this straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.