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Increase in Law Department Hiring

Posted by: Laurence Simons 06/07/12

Increase in Law Department Hiring as Six in Ten Lawyers Look to Move In-House says Laurence Simons/ACC

  • 61% of lawyers in practice are considering a move in-house
  • More than half of EMEA companies expanded their legal teams in Q1 2012
  • External legal spending down 13% since 2008

Declining external legal spending and increasing hiring of in-house lawyers has convinced a majority of practice lawyers to consider roles in-house according to research by international legal recruiter Laurence Simons and global bar association, the Association of Corporate Counsel.

The 2012 Europe, Middle East and Africa Law Department Survey analysed hiring trends and department structures, and found that 53% of companies stated they had hired into their legal departments in the first quarter of 2012. This represents a 13% improvement on company forecasts last year, when only 40% expected headcount in their legal departments to rise. This is matched by a fall of 13% on external spending by legal departments on legal services in the last four years.
At the same time, six in ten lawyers working in practice would consider a move in-house.

“In a marketplace where companies are continually looking to maximise the value they get from their legal teams, spending on practice lawyers has been squeezed as in-house teams have been required to take on more responsibility. That’s why the number of paralegals per lawyer has fallen as in-house departments are hiring more qualified lawyers to take on a more complex and sizeable workload”, explained Naveen Tuli, global managing director of Laurence Simons. “The ultimate result is that an increasing number of practice lawyers are realising there are great opportunities to be had in-house”

Laurence Simons’ research also shows the UK is the country within the EMEA region to which most in-house lawyers are currently being recruited. 30% of in house hires in the EMEA region were in the UK. Germany accounted for 24% and France for 20% of positions.

Mission Critical Areas

Jim Merklinger, VP & General Counsel, Association of Corporate Counsel:
"Anti-bribery and corruption, competition and IP, along with general commercial, were the issues most frequently cited by respondents as being mission critical over the last twelve months. These were also areas that teams reported having strong expertise in-house as legal departments focus on managing the key risks and opportunities for their businesses."

The survey also found that while cost-management is high on the agenda for most businesses, specialist areas like taxation (6%) and insurance (0%) remain a relatively low priority within legal departments.

Tuli added: “Inter-jurisdictional exposure is highly prized as legal teams are frequently required to take responsibility for jurisdictions beyond the country in which they are based.”