In-house teams are on the rise, with the number of businesses taking on internal legal professionals up by 4.4% year-on-year, according to figures from The Law Society.
This is a long-term trend and, according to a report by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), there are now more than 25,600 solicitors working internally in businesses throughout the UK – double the number there was in 2000.
Businesses are beginning to abandon the traditional model of outsourcing legal services in favour of building their own, knowledgeable, internal teams instead.
The move towards internal legal teams is widely attributed to financial pressures, but is also happening alongside a wider commercial shift; in-house counsel is increasingly being asked to contribute to wider strategic discussions about the business, alongside their more traditional role delivering compliance and legal advice.
Which sectors are hiring?
Here at Rullion, we’re seeing several sectors where candidates with legal experience are in high-demand: IT, financial services, insurance, media, and retail.
It’s also worth noting that while movement between sectors is a possibility for candidates, this is not usually the case in financial services and banking due to the complex nature of the business.
Who are they looking for?
Candidates with two to four years’ Post Qualified Experience (PQE) are in high demand to fill these internal roles. Typically, applicants would have trained in private practice and would now have a taste for a particular sector having seconded by a city law firm, hoping to get their teeth into a client-side role.
Top-end graduates are the most sought after as one might expect; higher-tier candidates are likely to have qualified at one of the top city law firms before moving onto a leading specialist, and would now be looking to make the move in-house.
Where are these roles and how much do they pay?
By their very nature, these types of roles tend to be based at head offices, and we’re seeing a high concentration of vacancies around the London/South East area, especially for those in the technology sector.
This is very much a candidate-led market but moreover, it’s all about having the right industry knowledge, and being a good experience match for the company you’re looking to join.
Remuneration depends largely on the sector you’re looking to enter and the experience you can bring to the role. Salaries usually sit around £50k for retail and media positions while candidates entering the financial services and IT sectors can command anything from £60k to £100k with two to four years’ PQE.
What’s in store for 2017?
Brexit may increase the need for lawyers due to the number of European contracts currently in place that may need to be renegotiated – but at present, it’s too early to predict the impact this may have on recruitment.
If this demand for specialist, short-term work does increase, businesses are also more likely to outsource projects to contractors. Therefore, an uptake in contractors across trademark, employment, intellectual property and commercial law should also be anticipated.
New EU General Data Protection Regulation also comes into force in May 2018. This is yet another area in which we’re likely to see an increase in contractors as businesses rush to ensure their processes are compliant by the deadline – or risk fines of up €20 million or 4% of worldwide turnover.
Considerations for contractors
While contractors typically earn as much as 30% more than permanent staff and have more flexibility around holiday and working patterns, they don’t have the same career path or benefits as permanent employees.
Contractors are often brought in for project-based work where specialist knowledge is required, but there’s no long-term gap to fill. They can also be useful for covering maternity leave, in a specialist area such as tender or procurement, or to help with work overload at busy times of the year.
Whether you want to make the move to in-house counsel or gain a wide range of experience through contracting, I can help. Get in touch with the me today.