In-house lawyers ‘cautiously optimistic’ about job security

By Jerome Doraisamy|19 August 2020
job security

New research shows the extent to which corporate counsel are concerned about the prospect of losing their jobs.

In a flash poll of its members conducted in early August, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) sought and received responses from 487 of its members to questions about job security and talent management.

The sentiment, ACC surmised, is “cautiously optimistic”.

Just over half of those surveyed (50.9 per cent) said they are “not at all” concerned about losing their jobs, and one-quarter (26.1 per cent) are “a little” concerned about this. Just 6.2 per cent of in-house lawyers are worried “a great deal” about their job security, and 2.1 per cent said they have already lost their jobs.

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Elsewhere, 16.9 per cent said they are actively looking for a new job, while 83.1 are comfortable where they currently are.

Interestingly, over three-quarters (76.5 per cent) said that their compensation has not been reduced in the wake of COVID-19, while 23.5 have experienced such a reduction. Among those whose salary has not been reduced, only one in 10 (9.5 per cent) anticipate a cut in pay, while three in five (61.3 per cent) feel confident their salary will weather the storm.

According to ACC vice-president and chief administrative officer Patricia Trudeau, the age of coronavirus has forced businesses globally to adjust their operations, with legal teams being no exception.

The poll offers some “encouraging news” for corporate counsel, she mused, but added that the findings also highlight that “many in-house counsel and law departments are not getting by unscathed, as they continue to face considerable personal and organisational challenges as a result of this pandemic”.

The poll also examined issues around hiring: one-third (33.5 per cent) of respondents said there had been no change to hiring within their legal teams in the age of coronavirus, but elsewhere, it was a different story.

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There were hiring freezes implemented in 27.9 per cent of businesses employing respondents, while 19.6 per cent have witnessed decreased hiring and 11.2 per cent have seen lay-offs and 9.5 have seen furloughs. Just 4.5 per cent have experienced increased hiring.

This has seen mixed outcomes for the workload of in-house lawyers: while 21.5 per cent say their workload has increased “a lot” and 38.1 per cent say they have to do “some” more work, 23.2 per cent say their load has only increased by “a little”, and 17.1 said there has been no change at all.

Seven in 10 (70.2 per cent) also said there were “no changes planned” for their formal performance reviews within the legal team in the coming year, to the best of their knowledge.

In-house lawyers ‘cautiously optimistic’ about job security
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