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Overview of the legal recruitment market in Russia

Posted by: Laurence Simons 19/04/13

In-house legal recruitment in Russia

Russia experienced a relatively active 2012 although the demand for jobs far outweighed the supply. 42% of legal departments in Russia and 35% of law firms experienced headcount growth in 2012 although for the largest proportion (31%) this increase only equated to one additional lawyer.

There has been an increase in the requirement for corporate, tax, labour and e-commerce lawyers as well as lawyers able to provide organisations with full legal support. In contrast, there has been a decrease in the demand for lawyers with M&A and investment experience.

Compliance remains a key growth area in Russia with many organisations looking to further develop this function in 2013. 55% of companies incorporate compliance as part of their legal division which is unsurprising as 64% of organisations prefer to source their compliance employees from a legal background.

Compensation levels remained modest in Russia with salaries staying relatively unchanged from 2011 levels. Just under half (46%) of lawyers in Russia received a bonus in 2012 with over a third (36%) receiving between 10% and 19% of their basic salary. Despite 58% receiving the same bonus year on year, 61% of Russian lawyers were satisfied with the level of their bonus, which is indicative of the nature of the market.

The future of the Russian legal market is likely to remain steady with pockets of growth occurring in industries such as IT and telecommunications, FMCG and e-commerce. Remuneration levels are not likely to change dramatically, although 36% of lawyers in Russia who will be considering a new role in 2013 will be expecting an increase in salary of 31% or more, which may be difficult to achieve considering the client led nature of the market. In spite of the unsteady economy in Europe, multinationals continue to consider Russia as an attractive region for expansion.

Private Practice legal recruitment in Russia

There were significant differences between private practice and inhouse in 2012. Whilst the in-house sector recruitment levels remained fairly active in various industries, law firms continued to recruit somewhat cautiously, with only a few firms prepared to invest in new practices (mainly boutique US firms with relatively small offices in Russia). The collapse of one US firm globally led to a team of over 50 lawyers setting up a new office in Russia for another large US firm, which caused the recruitment market to become stagnant for a period of time.

The biggest prospects for firms in 2012 were corporate transactional partners with solid and wellestablished business. However, some firms have been prepared to take a bit more risk and invest in less mainstream practices, such as IP/TMT, competition, asset finance, infrastructure and private equity.

There have been positive signs in the market, with some firms giving a 10 to 15% salary increase across the board, and others awarding outstanding performers with up to 30% bonuses. Indications for 2013 are perhaps not as promising, with a number of firms likely to rely on a merit-based approach for any future salary increases.

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