The last twelve months have borne witness to a sequence of positive developments regarding the Irish economy. Year on year, employment levels are rising and unemployment levels are reducing, in particular amongst legal professionals. Both GDP and GNP continue to improve while VAT and personal tax returns are generally ahead of expectations. Global ratings agency Fitch upgraded Ireland’s credit rating from BBB to A- in August 2014 which was followed in December by Standard and Poor which upgraded Ireland’s long term credit rating from A- to A. Once again, Ireland is the fastest growing economy in Europe and is being held up as a model of economic recovery and success.
The areas of law and construction are two in which significant employment contraction was suffered as a direct consequence of the downturn. Within the legal sector, 2008 and 2009 were marked by redundancies, salary reductions, business closures and a lack of NQ retention. As recently as 2011, sentiment amongst lawyers in Ireland was still extremely nervous. In previous research conducted by HRM Recruit midway through 2011, redundancies, insurance costs and pressure on fees were the three factors cited by lawyers as having the most transformational impact on the private practice market. The next biggest concern cited by respondents was emigration. In 2014 we commenced a further twelve month piece of research which focused on the views and aspirations of trainee solicitors and law graduates in Ireland. The 204 respondents to the survey were drawn from law students and graduates, trainees working in private practice, trainees working in-house and recently qualified solicitors.