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2024 Legal in-house market outlook

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​We spoke to Tom ShawBusiness Director, about the in-house Legal market, including current trends, factors affecting hiring, plus in-demand roles and skills. Tom shares his expert knowledge on changes across the in-house landscape for Legal professionals and the increasing importance of technology and artificial intelligence as a key skill. In terms of talent attraction, Tom highlights a few key strategies businesses should be aware of when looking to hire top in-house Legal talent.

For advice on the in-house Legal market, support with your hiring strategy or guidance on finding a new role, contact Tom.

What specific trends have you seen in your market?

The energy and commodities sector has been really exciting throughout 2023 and continues to be a key area of change, with the big players strengthening their offerings in renewable and low-carbon energy. This has certainly been matched by energy professionals I speak with; there is an increasing desire to move away from traditional oil and gas work to focus more on renewables, but the transition isn’t going to be easy (for lawyers or businesses).

I’ve picked up on a number of solar energy companies looking to increase their Legal headcount, which is promising, but it remains a volatile sector and we have seen some redundancies as well.

Another major area of growth has been in the world of EV. Our automotive clients are increasing their focus on EV, whilst there has been a significant increase in electric charging companies and battery manufacturers building out their Legal functions. This looks to be a fast-paced, exciting sector which would very much suit those lawyers with a ‘start-up’ mindset, looking to roll their sleeves up and really make a mark, as well as offering a clear environmental angle.

What factors have affected talent attraction and retention in the past 12 months?

Things have certainly slowed down following what was a bumper year for in-house Legal recruitment during 2022. This trend is not unique to in-house Legal and has been seen in just about every other area of recruitment, suggesting it is businesses as a whole which are pausing to catch their breath in what has been a sluggish economy.

In the in-house Legal market, the UK is showing some signs of recovery and we have been kept busy in the first quarter of the year, but it is still lagging behind the UAE and US.

Which roles and skills are most likely to be in demand in 2024 and why?

Technology continues to be a highly sought-after skill, particularly with the promise shown by Artificial Intelligence. Every commercial vacancy I have worked on this year has prioritised IT as either a ‘must have’ or highly desirable skill. My advice to any junior commercial lawyers out there would be to add this string to their bow and stay on top of this exciting, ever-changing landscape.

M&A lawyers are increasingly sought after, albeit in a corporate / commercial hybrid role, there also seems to be an increase in opportunities for Employment Lawyers. It’s a great time for Employment or M&A lawyers who are looking to broaden their horizons and move out of private practice.

What do clients and professionals need to be aware of in 2024?

For both lawyers looking to make a move in-house and businesses looking to recruit, you need to remember one thing: be flexible!!

We are starting to see a gradual call from businesses for increased days in the office; there will inevitably be a lag between the businesses making this call and people perhaps starting to feel this increase in office time is the new normal. I have already noticed there can be a significant disconnect between businesses and lawyers on this point, which is certainly a sticking point when it comes to successful placements. Clients struggle to resolve this without the intervention of recruitment consultants.

To my clients, I would remind them of the importance of explaining the ‘why’ behind the number of days in the office. Certainly, for junior lawyers who completed their training on a mainly remote basis due to the pandemic, it will not feel like the norm. There are undeniable benefits for them having more facetime with their managers and getting to know their internal stakeholders.

About Tom

Tom has spent the past six years recruiting lawyers across all levels and disciplines for in-house positions.

His focus is on delivering up to date market insights and finding suitable lawyers who understand the varied, highly commercial nature of in-house Legal, whilst supporting clients internationally with their hiring strategies.

For advice on the in-house Legal market, support with your hiring strategy or guidance on finding a new role, contact Tom.