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In-House – Buyers Market

In-House – Buyers Market

The in-house market is as active as I can recall over the last 5 years. We are seeing industry wide demand for in-house counsel, predominantly within the 5-12 year PAE. Sure the usual suspects, financial services, insurance, TMT and construction continue to fire, however, we are also seeing an increase in demand for lawyers within the venture capital, private equity, FinTech, technology start-up, real estate, not-for-profit, energy and healthcare sectors.

Unlike the real estate market, the legal industry is most definitely a buyer’s market! Attractive in-house options seem endless as was clearly evident last Thursday evening at the annual Lawyers Weekly Corporate Counsel Awards. The depth and breadth of legal capabilities were on display with over 600 lawyers in attendance representing companies such as Telstra, Roches, Coles, Woolworths, Transport for NSW, IBM, QIC, CBRE, TAL, Deloitte, Lendlease, Magellan, ANZ, CBA, Thiess, PwC, AGL Energy and Ausgrid.

In a highly competitive market the importance of recruitment process should be at the top of everyone’s agenda. This will be further exasperated as private practice lawyers continue to flock to the US, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Cayman Islands; coupled with our border closures preventing the flow of UK and other Common Law trained lawyers entering the country.

With that in mind I wanted to provide a few tips to assist with streamlining a legal recruitment process:

  • Legal is a specialist area so when engaging with recruiters for legal counsel or senior legal counsel roles it is best to use specialist legal recruiters, rather than large recruitment firms on ‘the panel’ that specialise in accounting, finance, technology etc.
  • For head of legal/general counsel roles choose your recruitment partner wisely and the best course of action is to engage with one supplier.
  • Put together a thorough job brief that will allow potential candidates to accurately assess suitability for a role prior to interview. Lawyers are busy people and there have been countless examples of lawyers headhunted for roles, turning up to an interview only to find they are either, not suitable, or not interested in role.
  • Be clear and transparent as to how this need arose and future prospects for the role.
  • Culture is important, so make sure you come prepared with your sales pitch should the candidate perform well at interview.
  • Ensure the right people are involved in the interview process.
  • Prioritise recruitment process. Nothing kills a deal like a slow process, with limited, to no feedback. Ensure you have approvals in place prior to going to market and once you have identified the appropriate talent be decisive!
  • Remuneration is important. Understand your position in the market and the appropriate salary and bonus structure required to be competitive. You get what you pay for.
  • Finally I think it is important to understand that legal talent is going to become increasingly scarce over the next 12 months (as identified above) so set your expectations accordingly and apply flexibility to your recruitment process. This may mean entertaining the idea of contract or temporary lawyers as a solution.
Sam Gray

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