How long are legal professionals staying in their roles in 2024?

Posted in Latest News on 16 Apr 2024

Here at Douglas Scott, we keep our finger on the pulse of the legal market, and have been looking into the length of time people are stay in their legal roles.  

Our annual salary survey (now available on our website) examines this topic in detail. Understanding how long people are looking to stay in their roles is a key part of understanding how people feel about their current jobs and how likely they might be to change in the coming months and years.  

The average figure for 2024, across all UK regions, was four years and one month, slightly down from last year’s figure of four years and five months. On average, however, this is broadly in line with the past couple of years (for example, 2022’s figure was bang on four years) and indicates that there have been no significant shifts in legal professionals' attitudes towards the length of time they spend with a firm. This pattern is mainly replicated at a local level, with most sectors seeing only a slight shift upwards or downwards on last year’s figure. London, for example, is down a couple of months on last year, (this year, the average figure is three years and nine months, whereas in 2023, it was three years and 11 months). These shifts indicate a relatively stable marketplace, where people stay in jobs consistently for a set period that has remained, despite some of the turbulent upheaval in the market over the past few years, in about the same place. Another excellent example is the broader South-East market, which has only fluctuated by a month or two in the past three years. This year, people stay in roles for about four years and seven months, down a month from last year and two months up from the previous year. The North-West also broadly fits in with this pattern, with an average matching the national, though it was down slightly on last year’s figure for this region of 4 years and six months.  

There have been, however, some interesting changes in other areas of the country. Perhaps the most obvious is in the Midlands and Eastern region, where the figure change is quite drastic between this year and last. This year, people in the Midlands have been staying in roles for about three years and 11 months, down a whole year from last year’s figure. It does bring the Midlands back in line with the rest of the UK market, but it does render last year’s figure as something of an anomaly in the rest of the figures. 2022’s figure was three years and nine months, which indicates that something else might have been happening last year regarding the figures. For the rest of the country, they are both on a steady rise: the South-West and Wales are up to 4 years and five months (in contrast to last year’s four years and one month and 2022’s three years and seven months) and Yorkshire and the North-East’s average is currently four years and three months (2023’s figure was four years, and 2022’s was three years and seven months). It’s possible that, in these areas of the country, with the length of time that people spend in roles going up incrementally, these regions are starting to see a slight slowdown in movement, with people more content to stay in a role for longer.  

Overall, it’s clear that the legal market remains relatively buoyant with people looking to move, often for reasons of progression. It will be interesting to see if any of the trends we have seen here continue over the course of the year, and we will be keeping an eye on it when our next salary survey is published to see if there are any changes. 

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