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Market report: The Italian In-house market

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/10/14

The Italian In-house counsel recruitment market has been busy in 2014 compared to the last few years. This has been caused by a number of factors, particularly the restructuring of legal departments and a noticeable shift in culture when it comes to hiring new staff.

Companies are looking to better structure their legal departments in the face of an ever more regulated market, reduce costs from outside counsel and also keep up with competition from foreign players.

The culture of the market seems to be changing from one where jobs were passed on only by word of mouth, to one where companies instruct external advisors. In Italy, there has been a longstanding debate on the very different career structures and rewards for lawyers (admitted to the Bar) and In-house counsel, with the latter always seen as being less qualified.

As in-house legal departments become better structured and more focused on recruiting talented people, the In-house counsel association is keen to follow the trend and promote the In-house profession more. 

Recruiting in the current market

While there is certainly more movement in the current market, a noticeable difference is that law firms are proposing their candidates directly to their clients. This appears to be the  process that will be used for the foreseeable future as it is a very cost effective method to recruit excellent candidates.

In-house counsel salaries in Italy tend to remain very low (they have not increased in recent years) and it is sometimes difficult to find a good candidate who will accept a lower salary. This makes searches difficult as clients remain demanding and keen to have high quality candidates at a reduced budget. Despite the low salary, our 2013/14 global salary survey identified that 52% of lawyers did receive a bonus in 2013; however, 50% of these individuals reported no change in the bonus amount.

Overall, the future is definitely looking brighter for the Italian In-house legal market albeit growth will be slower than other European countries.  The way companies recruit lawyers is definitely evolving and this will certainly be interesting to see develop in 2015.