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Why Now Is The Best Time For Solicitors To Leave Their Jobs

06 May 2022

Mark Byrne

The Irish legal jobs marketplace is incredibly busy across both practice and in-house and with a talent shortage, it's an ideal time for job seekers to get that perfect job.

It’s time to prepare for a potential job search

With the pandemic pushing higher than normal rates of job burnout, lower job satisfaction and employers asking for a full return to the office, the legal jobs market is all fired up.

The mental health impact of the pandemic, the changes in work-life balance and a rapidly shifting marketplace which has pivoted for remote or hybrid working environments, have all combined to result in not just the Great Resignation, but the Great Reflection as people consider what to do next. This shouldn’t come as any surprise – everyone’s values and needs have changed during the pandemic.

A search for “legal” jobs on LinkedIn’s job portal brings up nearly 4,000 legal jobs in Ireland while if you’re following jobsites, you’ll have seen the dozens of legal jobs being posted daily. With firms looking to hire staff in volume, and tech, financial services and pharmaceutical companies expanding their in-house legal departments, the time to prepare for your job search is now.

Culture, challenges and counter-offers

For legal professionals, finding a new employer who will offer what they’re looking for is an easier option than tackling the issues of culture, salary raises or career progression with a manager or partner.  On the flip side, solicitors as a profession are generally risk-averse by nature and the idea of changing jobs in an uncertain economic climate has reduced the natural churn in the market thus reducing the pool of active candidates. Employers need to address the issues of attraction/retention of staff prior to any resignation and exit interview.

Reasons for leaving

I’m speaking with solicitors every day of the week and the reasons they’re citing as their main motivators for leaving are the following:

  • Better benefits/salary elsewhere
  • Collaborative culture
  • Structured progression plan
  • Mentoring
  • Lack of interesting / challenging work
  • A better work/life balance

Sometimes this means moving from a large firm to a boutique firm where they’ll get more access and exposure to more interesting or niche work and increased client interaction. It can also mean moving from a mid-tier firm to a top-tier firm where they are offered a better salary, structured career progression and mentoring.  Or it leads to a move in-house where the pressure may still exist but in a very different way that’s manageable for their new circumstances. The benefits of moving in-house can mean increased interaction with client albeit internal ones coupled with a better work-life balance. The current marketplace, while still being realistic about salary levels and ranges being offered, has never been more generous in what they’re prepared to offer in terms of benefits and flexibility. And because it’s a candidate driven marketplace with a marked lack of active candidates seeking to move, there is scope for negotiation when moving roles.


The current jobs market

Right now, the legal jobs marketplace is incredibly busy across both practice and in-house. Those firms seeking to recruit corporate solicitors with experience in M&A face huge competition for candidates. The requirement for solicitors with employment, IT/IP, banking, financial services and funds experience is also on the rise as is the demand for those with commercial litigation experience, particularly within the 2–5-year PQE level. The advent of Brexit saw many firms set up offices in Ireland in order to maintain a European presence thereby increasing the pressure on the available talent pool. This has all combined to make the jobs market incredibly attractive to those seeking to move.

The market is definitely bullish and short of any unforeseen economic curve ball, I think the remainder of 2022 will be a good year for the legal profession with strong growth and demand for solicitors.  


Mark Byrne is Commercial Director within the Brightwater Group and heads up Brightwater’s Legal division. He can be reached via email or call him on + 353 1 5927845