The Great Hesitation

The Great Hesitation

"The Great Resignation" has received a lot of press.  There is no doubt that this phenomenon has hit the US, in particular.  According to PricewaterhouseCoopers US Pulse survey in August 2021, 65% of employees said they are looking for a new job and 88% of executives said their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal.

While Australia's economy is usually in lockstep with America's - has the Great Resignation hit here and, in particular, has it hit the legal services market?  Well according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics - up until February, Australia had the lowest annual job mobility rate on record.  The most recent stats from October 2021, show professional services (including legal) dropped by 2.9 % that month.

So it is clear that the Great Resignation has not hit us yet.  We are still finding lawyers are reluctant to move jobs - so it may be the Great “Hesitation”.  Over the last few weeks there has been more of a trickle but this may just be related to the Christmas Season.

There are probably a number of factors including lag. Trends seen in the US may take a few months to manifest here.  Also, the drivers for job change such as commutes and managers are less of an issue when working remotely or only part time in the office.  Some research suggests up to 60% could be looking to change jobs before the end of April 2022.

It is likely that once lawyers are back at their desks around Australia Day we may see an uptick in movement.  The fact that candidates are getting decent pay rises to move, as well as some firms trying to revert back to pre-covid policies like full-time in the office that will lose out against more flexible workplaces, are just some reasons.

In order to ascertain legal specific trends we ran a quick poll of over 200 Australian Lawyers asking:

Will you be a part of the 'Great Resignation'?

62% are planning to resign

38% are not planning to resign

Of the 62% who are planning to resign:

  • 32% will do so for more money or a promotion
  • 12% will do so to seek work overseas
  • 18% will do so for other reasons

Of those planning to resign:

  • 34% are currently employed in-house
  • 26% are currently employed in a small law firm
  • 18% are currently employed in a medium law firm
  • 15% are currently employed in a large law firm
  • 7% are currently employed in the public sector 

Of those who are happy in their current roles:

  • 36% are currently employed in a small law firm
  • 22% are currently employed in-house
  • 18% are currently employed in a medium law firm
  • 16% are currently employed in a large law firm
  • 8% are currently employed in the public sector

We are keeping close to those that are looking for new opportunities and finding the right match in terms of culture, values, location, remuneration and flexibility.


Authored by: Elias Recruitment

If you have questions about the market or salaries please contact Jason Elias on or 02 9555 5711. Jason Elias is the Founder and CEO of Elias Recruitment, a boutique legal recruitment consultancy that specialises in finding lawyers for law firms, NFPs, and corporate in-house teams.

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