The final quarter of 2016 saw a large spike in the current number of legal vacancies across the South West of England.

Firms were keen to start the search for candidates before the festivities began in order to counter the New Year workload and get the recruitment ball rolling.

As was expected, applications slowed down slightly as we came into the Christmas period. This is a fairly similar story to last year, particularly going into the latter part of December where people moved into holiday-mode and placed a career move on the back burner.

Although the South West did quieten down since the third quarter of the year, there were plenty of vacancies in place to match the New Year application frenzy which has already begun.

From a speed of movement point of view, some firms were keen to interview prospective candidates before the Christmas break. Although it’s sometimes easier to ‘leave it until later’, this strategy can take a lot of the pressure off hiring departments for the early (and often manic) start to the year.

Transport and Weather

Something that became apparent over the last quarter was the ongoing work in the South West aimed at enhancing the transport network across the region.

The electrification of the line from Paddington, now allows passengers to arrive in Bristol City Centre in an impressive one hour and forty minutes from the capital.

In  addition, 2018 will see new high-speed trains replacing the old Intercity 125s in the biggest upgrade to the South West’s rail services. The new trains will offer more seats, quicker journeys, and better reliability.

These improvements have opened up the possibility for more legal professionals to commute across the Main Great Western Line and into the South West.

During the middle part of November, some heavy downpours and localised flooding slowed some of the legal movement temporarily. In rural areas in particular this made traveling to and from firms fairly difficult.

However, the improvement in the speed and reliability of the South West’s transport infrastructure is slowly reducing the uncomfortable stoppages in services when any disruptive weather takes place.

Perfect Timing

As the transport improvements continue to take place, I only see the South West growing in the New Year with a higher volume of applicants to match the larger list of legal vacancies in the area.