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Are In-house legal roles harder to fill?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 13/12/15
The Association of Corporate Counsel’s (ACC) annual survey has this year revealed a number of reasons why many in-house departments are struggling to fill their vacant positions.

Although based in Washington, the study was sent out to 10,000 different companies across 85 countries. Respondents have provided a large amount of interesting data, including that roughly 62% of in-house lawyers would consider changing positions to advance their career regardless of their current levels of job satisfaction.

James Merklinger, the vice president and chief legal officer of ACC, has commented that it can be very difficult for new lawyers to make inroads into the in-house sector. This is partially because many organisations have huge amounts of candidates to choose from, but mainly due to the ideal hire needing at least five to ten years of experience, strong industry-specific knowledge and ability to thrive in a team. On top of this, working in a specific international context means that those applying for the position must possess the relevant cultural and language skills. This presents a rather complex list of characteristics that the recruiter will be looking for, practically wiping out the younger competition.

The ACC also revealed that sourcing people for in-house roles can take on many shapes; the most common are using existing professional networks of attorneys, pulling talent from other firms or using headhunters. And in-house departments may have to face up to continuing and acute talent shortages given that only 30% of respondents said that they would consider a lateral move within the in-house sector.

It appears, then, as though in-house vacancies present a number of challenges, with many candidates failing to fit the bill and a general reluctance to move laterally within the sector.

What do you think could be done to resolve this?