Worried about your current workflow?

While the UK is now hoping to avoid a recession in 2023, the global economic climate has felt distinctly cool of late. Much of this is a natural readjustment after many law firms raced to hire lawyers in 2021 and early 2022 to keep up with booming global dealmaking demand. But the market has now shifted amid rising interest rates, high inflation and continued recession fears. Law firms are advising on fewer deals, and with a smaller combined value, and M&A activity is at its lowest level in more than a decade according to Refinitiv. IPOs are also in global decline. However, it is not all doom and gloom – some firms are very busy, and counter-cyclical areas such as litigation, competition, financial regulatory and IP/IT are all active. We continue to receive new hiring mandates every day.

There has been so much growth in recent years that it was perhaps becoming unsustainable and what we are experiencing right now is more ‘normal’ levels of legal recruitment. However, some law firms have started laying people off and it is natural to feel anxious about the current economic situation. If you are concerned about slowing workflows and potential job security, there are a few things you can do:

Think carefully about how you are filling any spare work hours.
  • Can you attend any team or firm training programmes? Perhaps you can help deliver any training initiatives?
  • Are you actively seeking out new work and letting people know you have capacity?
  • Are you being flexible regarding the different types of work you are willing to take on? Can you assist other teams or offices?
  • Are there any business development or marketing initiatives you can get involved in?
  • Can you do any pro bono work?
  • Is there any reading or a free training course you can do to expand your skill-set? Let people know that you are doing this and why.
Be visible and helpful.
  • It’s probably not the best time to be working excessively from home or to have partners/managers wondering what you are doing.
  • Be accessible and ready for when that transaction comes in and you are more likely to be picked for the deal team.
  • Ask your manager what would be useful/helpful for the team for you to be doing. A ‘can-do’ attitude goes a long way.
Stay positive and give off good energy.
  • Buoy others and they will buoy you. You want to be the team member that everyone likes to have around.
  • Remember that markets and economies are cyclical – work will pick up again!
  • Although this is not the time to go AWOL or to down tools, try not to stress if you are not at 100% of your normal billing targets. Downtime, and a chance to reset, is actually healthy for us physically and mentally, especially after a period of intense activity.
Try and objectively assess just how risky your personal situation is.
  • Is your firm one which typically hires and fires “investment bank style”?
  • Is the current slowdown a blip? What’s the longer-term pipeline looking like?
  • Are the partners in your group visibly worried or are they reassuring you?
  • How did you score in your last performance review and how do the partners rate you?

If you are worried about your position, taking control of your personal situation is a good way to allay your fears and improve your mental health. Talk to a trusted recruiter to find out what the market is like for someone at your level and with your skill-set. If you are working overseas, what is your home market like and is it time to come home? Above all, what are your options if you have to (or want to) make a lateral move?

At Marsden we are here to help you at every stage of the recruitment process. We have been assisting lawyers in their career journeys for many years and can help you apply, prepare, interview and be successful in securing the role of your choice and the career uplift you seek. Get in touch with any of our consultants to tap into our career guidance.