Melted Ice Pool

The pool of intermediate lawyers is as small as a half-melted snowflake

Visibility of a law firms’ PQE structure enables them to make better, and more informed, recruitment and retention decisions.

The most sought-after experience level for our Insource clients is unquestionably within the 3-5PQE band (intermediate lawyers).  But finding a moveable lawyer in this bracket can often feel like trying to find a polar bear in a snowstorm!

So we used the Insource tech platform and looked at the PQE structure of the top six NZ law firms and six of the second-tier law firms.  We also looked at the PQE structure of the entire NZ legal profession to see if there are simply statistically less intermediate lawyers.

Here’s a helpful table to show what the Insource platform revealed:

PQE Structure as % of total lawyers employed*

 Top Six NZ Law Firms (average)Six Second-Tier NZ Law Firms (average)NZ Legal Profession
0-2 PQE (junior)31%24%15%
3-5 PQE (intermediate)13%16%13%
6+ PQE (senior)56%60%72%

* These figures are approximations and based on publicly available data. 

In short, it appears the intermediate lawyers are currently bunkered down in igloos and/or wandering around in the middle of one epic snowstorm! In real numbers, one of the top six law firms has only 14/182 intermediate lawyers.  And a second-tier law firm has only 7/78 intermediate lawyers.  Those are confronting numbers.

All firms reviewed for this post are running lean in the intermediate PQE band and heavy with junior and senior lawyers.  And this reflects the wider legal profession. 

This visibility offered by the Insource platform, can then be used by law firms to make better, and more informed, recruitment decisions.  How can firms better support their current junior lawyers to ensure they have the best chance at retaining them into the intermediate bracket?  Do firms need to start recruiting / pipelining for intermediate lawyers?   Do firms even know that this is their PQE structure?  What risks are they running by having this structure?  How does this structure impact on senior lawyers, i.e. overworked and no capacity to mentor and train the juniors? 

The above information also sets expectations.  The pool for intermediate lawyer recruitment is as small as a half-melted snowflake.  It could therefore take some time to find the right lawyer not only in terms of movability, but also in terms of fit.  Insource’s recent experience in finding moveable lawyers is that it can take anywhere between 3-6 months or more.

So if you’d like to be able to see a bit more in the middle of a snowstorm then please get in touch with Jenn Little to see a demo of our Insource tech platform and how Insource can help you make better, and more informed, recruitment and staffing decisions.

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