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US in-house market report: Competition for jobs heats up on the coasts.

Posted by: Laurence Simons 04/08/14

With August upon us, a large number of practitioners are asking us what the rest of the year will look like in terms of in-house hiring. It will be robust – with one difference.  Companies tend to dislike hiring the closer it gets to the end of their fiscal calendar (Q4), as nobody likes to put money on the books in December. Thus, if you can explore the marketplace in August, September, October, and early November; those are your best months to make a move. The second best season is January when budgets reset.

In terms of activity, you can bet that we will see continued activity in the Midwest and renewed activity on the West Coast (Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and pockets outside of Los Angeles). The East Coast is also very busy in the hiring sector with ebbs and flows coming intermittently. Industry-wise, we are seeing a lot of activity with start-ups, financial institutions, manufacturing, IT, and biotech right now, and compliance practice, as always, continues to offer up a constant stream of opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad.

While practitioners are asking us about hiring, our in-house clients are asking us about packages – and what we are seeing in the marketplace. Since January, 2014, activity in the in-house market has picked up. This isn’t surprising considering that our 2014 global legal and compliance survey found that almost a third (29%) of lawyers in the US would be actively look for a new role 2014. As a result, candidates have a number of suitors. 

What does this mean? It means that suitors will be fighting against each other for talent, and that energy is pushing up the packages which our in-house clients should be prepared to offer. Not all clients will want to play that game, but most of them know that if you want the best talent - and they are being courted already - you are going to have to go the distance in order to get it. Our survey also found that 40% of lawyers said that they would expect a salary increase of between 11%-20% if they were to move.
Having said that, our clients also remember that money is not the be-all-end-all in package offerings.  Some clients are offering unlimited vacation, long term incentive plans (LTIPS), pensions and other “add ons” in order to sweeten the pot, and these creative package add-ons can make all the difference. 

All in all, the state of the market in NorAm looks very solid for the remainder of 2014.