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16th Apr 2020

How Will the Coronavirus Impact the Legal Job Market?

We often get asked what impact the virus is having on the job market… here are our thoughts…

We often get asked what impact the virus is having on the job market… here are our thoughts…

Four Phases in the Legal Job Market

We expect that there will be four phases in the job market until the virus is resolved.

  1. An initial period of waiting and seeing what, if any, impact the virus has on the business. During this time there will be head count freezes.
  2. The second period where the businesses adapt to the new environment by right-sizing their resources, which for most industries will be a reduction in headcount.
  3. After the initial adjustment companies may engage freelance and interim lawyers as a quick and flexible solution to keep the function and the business operating.
  4. After the virus has passed and companies feel confident again, they will recruit for permanent staff.

What Does this Mean for Lawyers?

Lawyers will likely postpone their job search as they:-

  • are preoccupied by current events;
  • are reluctant to leave their current job and their sick leave entitlements, which they may need if they contract the virus;
  • wait to see the impact of the virus on businesses and industries; and
  • look for contract roles, as interim and freelance Lawyers will be utilised to plug the gap until the full impact of the virus can be determined.

What Does this Mean for Companies?

Many companies will likely:

  • implement or extend head count freezes while they wait to see what impact the virus has on their business;
  • have staff work from home and, where not possible, may ask them to take paid/unpaid leave at home;
  • pause recruitment as decision makers in the recruitment process will be difficult to contact as they will be dealing with virus related issues;
  • cease domestic and international;
  • cease all events and conferences;
  • use the virus as an opportunity to restructure their workforce; and
  • engage with lawyers on an interim basis to give them flexibility to adjust to market conditions while still getting the work done.

What Can You Do?

If you’re a company looking for legal resources:

  • Looking to recruit a permanent team member – then engage a contractor to cover the gap until the job market stabilises and permanent employees recommence their job search; or
  • Looking to recruit a freelancer/interim lawyer – then move quickly, there is a limited pool of good lawyers available.

If you’re a lawyer looking for a role:

  • Already in a permanent role – now may not be the best time to look, sit tight and wait for it to blow over, retain sick leave entitlements ready to use if you contract the virus; or
  • Already in an interim role – we expect, after the initial adjustment of working from home and other arrangements, the interim market will pick up as companies still need work undertaken and don’t have the resources internally.

Lawyers can use this lull in the market to get ready for the pick-up in the job market following the virus –

  • Get your CV in order
  • Update your LinkedIn profile
  • Think about what type of job you want
  • Have a confidential chat with us about your career and how to find your next role


Dovetail connects clients with the best freelance lawyers across Australia.

If you would like to chat more about the legal market or our services, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss further.