Demand to fill in-house legal jobs, as well as the hiring of private practice lawyers, has been significant so far this year.
There has been a continued drive to hire lawyers, at all levels, across both private practices and within businesses. Irrespective of external influences, the number of jobs available has been high and we have noticed a particular upswing in banking/finance roles with a focus on real estate finance. Interestingly, there has been a correction in leveraged finance recruitment due to increased hiring in 2018 and a reduction in activity across Financial Services.
Areas such as corporate / M&A have remained stable and we have not seen a substantial increase compared to 2018. Moreover, litigation roles continue to be in demand across commercial and insurance sectors. Employment, commercial property and TMT have been active, but primarily at the junior end of the market. The rise of in-house positions across the board at the start of the year has come as organisations prepare for further regulatory and economic changes.
The rise of casual and agile working initiatives continues, with ‘work from home’ and dress down policies now the standard for some international firms - these offerings are key to strong retention. Additionally, confidence from candidates has somewhat reduced because of market uncertainty; fewer lawyers are eager to move, directly assisting companies’ retention.
Professionals have been tempted to organisations by:
Relationships, as ever, have been key to success so far in 2019. In-house lawyers should engage with the wider business at an early stage in order to develop relationships that will assist with key negotiations and drafting. Private practice lawyers who have strong relationships with clients are a valuable asset to their firm. For those seeking partnership, the ability to carve out a niche within their practice area is highly important so they should consider this in their business plans.
Across the spectrum, we have seen lawyers taking roles based on quality of work or opportunity for flexible working over significant salaries. Pay cuts have been witnessed with lawyers moving both from practice to practice, as well as when moving in-house. This is a dramatic change in what we have previously seen and demonstrates that remuneration is no longer at the forefront when a lawyer is deciding upon their next role.
Whilst it is anticipated 2019 will witness the merging of numerous global law firms, nothing has been seen as of yet. If this does occur, it will create significant vacancies and will also result in greater numbers of lawyers available to be hired. These mergers are partially as a result of the ebb and flow of US firms into the London market; some are exponentially growing and others are shrinking.
The next major regulatory change after GDPR will be E-Privacy. We therefore expect a surge in hiring to manage these changes and some businesses will redistribute headcount to account for it, whilst others will seek to hire on a project basis.