And now for the good news

November 14, 2011

The world is falling apart. Can Law cheer us up?


Something happens when you turn 35. You wake up one morning and Radio 4 is playing. Gradually, the dulcet tones of John Humphrys win you over. Before you know it, you can’t wake up with anything but the Today programme blaring in your ears.

But the world of late has been going to hell in a handbasket. This has turned Humphry’s once reassuring the-world-is-still-here wake-up call into an unnerving what-next fright fest.

In my desperation for something – anything – vaguely cheering in these dark cloud-filled days, I have turned to the legal profession.

Yes, I am that desperate.

Taking a positive view

But you lawyers have repaid my efforts with a tiny bit of silver lining. Half-year results are looking positive and recruitment among a few is on the up.

According to The Lawyer, Weil Gotshal is to increase its UK trainee intake by 55 per cent. That takes trainee numbers up from the current level of nine or ten to about 14 each year.

Apparently the London office is enjoying continued expansion across all practice areas, despite the on-going financial turmoil. Consequently, the firm has also announced an eight per cent hike in its salaries for London-based newly qualified (NQ) solicitors.

US firms already offer some of the most enticing salaries to lawyers over this side of the pond. But with NQ lawyers at Weil now to get a whopping £97,000 (previously £90,000), you’d be hard pressed to believe that we’re in the midst of anything but an economic boom.

Half-year results

At the same time, UK magic circle firm Allen & Overy has announced its half-year results – reporting an 11 per cent rise in turnover, from £526m at the same point last year to £582m now.

The firm’s managing partner Wim Dejonghe told The Lawyer that the results are coming off the back of investment in new markets – including recently opened offices in Belfast, Casablanca and Washington DC – and lateral hiring.

And before you assume it’s just the biggest firms posting positive results, North West firm DWF has also revealed a 14 per cent rise in its half-year turnover. In addition, it has created 110 new jobs in the last six months, and reportedly intends to create another 100 jobs over the next financial year.

Back to the future

Okay, we all know that the economy stands on the brink of another recession. And we know that the legal profession isn’t immune to an economic crisis. But if there is any sector to be in through recession, then legal isn’t a bad bet – especially if you’ve specialised in more recession-proof practice areas like litigation.

Of course, if the Eurozone crisis does unleash Armageddon as warned by Vince Cable this week, then we’ll all be running for the hills.

But in the meantime, and while John Humphrys remains on air, I’m taking my comfort where I can. Thank you legal. CP

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