After we saw the North West market for private client lawyers hotting up around 18 months ago, we’re now witnessing a similar increase in demand on the other side of the Pennines. It’s now an exciting time for private client solicitors looking to move as there are plenty of opportunities on offer across West Yorkshire.
The sudden buoyancy in the market comes as a result of a number of firms growing their private client teams in the region. Not only are smaller practices expanding, but larger, national firms are expanding their offering and setting up departments in Leeds, one of the leading legal hubs in the North.
Solicitors with 3-4+ years PQE are particularly sought after as they are able to hit the ground running and manage a caseload with minimal supervision. What’s more, because there is a candidate shortage at this level, with more roles than there are solicitors in the market, private client solicitors with this level of experience are able to command significant salary increases. Lawyers moving from regional firms in West Yorkshire towns like Wakefield or Halifax to national heavyweights in Leeds are likely to benefit the most.
The private client market in West Yorkshire is varied. National heavyweights Irwin Mitchell, Weightmans and Ward Hadaway have offices in Leeds city centre, while large regional firms such as Chadwick Lawrence and Ison Harrison have multiple offices in towns including Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield and Ilkley.
If you’re a private solicitor in West Yorkshire, the kind of firm you want to work at will, of course, largely be driven by your personal circumstances. Without generalising, if you’re a junior solicitor at an earlier stage of your career and with fewer commitments, you’re more likely to want to work at a larger, city-centre firm. Not only is this convenient for solicitors living in the city centre or the suburbs, but working at a larger firm can also open doors to other opportunities later in a lawyer’s career.
In contrast, more experienced private client solicitors tend to prefer smaller regional practices outside of the city. These firms provide lawyers with flexibility in terms of work-life balance and a less high-pressure working environment. Solicitors are given a higher level of autonomy over their workload without the pressures of a larger team and greater billing targets.
I’m increasingly seeing opportunities for ambitious senior private client solicitors in West Yorkshire that allow them the chance to grow their own team and control how they recruit. It’s not just the smaller outfits that are giving their senior lawyers this degree of autonomy. Some forward-thinking larger firms are also willing to allow individuals to decide the direction of their department in order to build up their private client offering in return for a higher salary and they are now offering agile working which provides more flexibility.
If you’re a senior private client solicitor thinking about moving on, it’s worth speaking to a legal recruiter to discuss your options.
Are you looking to take your next step as a private client solicitor in West Yorkshire?
At Realm, I specialise in the recruitment of private client and court of protection solicitors and can help you. To have a confidential conversation about your career and to learn a little more about the opportunities available, please get in touch on 03300 245 606.