Where can you see yourself next?

Our 2024 predictions for in-house legal

Our 2024 predictions for in-house legal

With recruitment slowing (actually, only somewhat!) days out from Christmas, we have asked ourselves what the crystal ball has in store for next year.

1. More M&A, more projects… more roles: All economic forecasts suggest an increase in activity in 2024, citing that while 2023 has been surprisingly OK, next year will be even better. The energy and resources, particularly renewables (see Point 2), sector will see a continuation and most likely growth in transactions and projects, and as a consequence a heightened level of disputes. Additionally, we think that the property and technology industries will see a number of opportunities for lawyers in-house.

2. Renewables continuing to power on:  We were kept incredibly busy in 2023 with a range of opportunities for lawyers within the renewable energy sector, placing lawyers from Legal Counsel up to General Counsel with a range of sector participants including major contractors, network operators, government and consultancies.  Australia is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of growth and investment in the renewables space, marked by a substantial pipeline of renewable energy projects. This surge is crucially tied to the nation’s commitment to achieving ambitious renewable energy targets. As the industry undergoes a significant transition from traditional coal-based energy to more sustainable sources like solar, wind, hydro, and battery energy storage, we predict that this will most likely be the busiest sector again in 2024.

3. ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance): We saw this becoming an increasingly important issue for law firms and companies with
in-house teams this year and anticipate that it will only become a bigger consideration.

    1. How does this impact candidates?  It means that there will be more ESG specialist skill sets sought and at the very least the requirement for lawyers to have a strong awareness of the need to manage risk, grasp opportunities, and navigate change relating to ESG when operating as an in-house lawyer.
    2. How does this impact in-house teams who are recruiting?  Candidates are becoming more conscious of brand reputation and are progressively expecting businesses to pursue sustainability, address risks such as climate change, and commit to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

4. Technology and AI: As we saw this year, we expect that 2024 will see technology, know-how, and artificial intelligence play a critical role in legal transactions and disputes, resulting in a greater dependency on
in-house legal teams adopting and using all they can to assist with efficiency and effectiveness for the team and broader business.

5. Privacy and data protection: With the Privacy Act Reform expected most likely in 2024 following the Attorney-General’s Review Report,
in-house legal teams will be expected to know their way around compliance with privacy legislation, in particular to the legal requirements relating to security of personal information, in the event of a data breach. With data protection becoming a mainstay in Australia’s regulatory environment, this will be a focus in the recruitment of lawyers next year.

Andrew Rees

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