The conservatism of employers in the legal services market is becoming more noticeable, contrasted against the surge in demand for labour across the economy as a whole.

By October 2020, job ads (advertised on the internet) across Australia for all occupations were only 11% below that of one year earlier. Economic pessimism in May and June 2020 brought job ads down by 47% compared to the year before. 

On a seasonally adjusted basis the figures are even better. Job ads in October 2020 were down by only 2.3% compared to October 2019. There has been a surge in demand from the smaller population states of WA, SA, TAS, NT and QLD all with job ads much higher than 12 months prior. NSW was down by 3% and VIC down by 23.3%.

In the legal services market, the reaction to Covid was much more severe with Australia-wide job ads down by 66% in June 2020. Although now down by 29%, it is as if law firms have been using the shock to get more out of their existing staff and are resisting employing lawyers on the basis of possible future growth. 

This conservatism is a nationwide trend and no more or less pronounced in Victoria.