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The active Singapore in-house market

Posted by: Laurence Simons 13/04/15

The in-house market in Singapore has remained active over the last 12 months and we expect this to continue for 2015. In particular, demand remains consistent for junior to mid-level lawyers, particularly those with 4-8 years’ pqe.

A number of sectors were active but we noticed that Technology, Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical & Healthcare were the busiest when it came to increasing headcount. The increase in headcount was driven by a mix of replacement roles, and new roles created by an increase in business activity.

The demand for Singapore-qualified lawyers remains robust, followed by Singapore-based internationally qualified lawyers with relevant regional experience. Singapore-qualified lawyers who have solid in-house experience and private practice training, continue to be considered for the most opportunities. 

Compliance remains an exciting growth story for the region, with demands for experienced professionals across all levels of seniority.

We have seen hiring managers across various industries, express keen interest in recruiting junior lawyers for hybrid legal and regulatory positions. Junior lawyers often express a preference for transactional work, and are less inclined to a role with a heavy emphasis on compliance and regulatory responsibilities. This can also be attributed to a lack of understanding regarding the role and scope of compliance. 

When attracting candidates to such roles; hiring managers often succeed in attracting quality candidates, when they are able to fine-tune the balance of compliance responsibilities, versus transactional and advisory work. In addition, it often helps when hiring mangers clarify the role of compliance, and how function interacts with and relates to legal within the organization.

At the senior levels, we have also seen legal professionals move internally into a Head of or Senior Compliance positions as a form of career progression and personal development. When dealing with sensitive matters pertaining to investigations or employee misconduct, the importance of institutional knowledge and stakeholder relationships are highly invaluable. In tandem with this, we also see continued demand for senior compliance professionals as a result of replacement roles due to market movements and activity.

We anticipate the in-house market to remain positive in 2015 with a mix of recruitment activity at the middle to senior end of the market amongst multinationals, and organizations with local and regional presence. The recruitment market outlook for compliance remains challenging, as we foresee sustained demand for experienced and legally-qualified compliance professionals, within a candidate-short market.