Understanding current in-house legal job market trends
From relocation and remuneration considerations to where we’re at in the new financial year, there are numerous factors to bear in mind when interpreting the current state of affairs for corporate legal recruitment right now, writes Andrew Murdoch.
Like the financial market, the in-house legal job market fluctuates, has peaks and troughs, and has bear and bull markets. Understanding the changing job market and “buying” or “selling” at the right time can increase your chances of a successful recruitment process both as a candidate looking for a job and as a company looking to recruit.
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Below are some trends we’re seeing in the current in-house market.
- July and August: The quietest months
- School holidays/people travelling overseas and interstate to escape the cold weather/go skiing;
- Lawyers waiting for their end-of-year bonuses before looking for another role; and
- Exhausted from closing deals and finishing projects before the end of the financial year, everyone is taking a mental break before commencing their job search/recruiting for their team.
Don’t be concerned if you haven’t seen many suitable jobs advertised or applicants apply during July and August; the market picks up significantly from September – see below.
- September to December: Most active months
Contrary to common belief, December is an incredibly busy month as companies seek to recruit to have new starters take their notice period over the Christmas break and commence fresh in the new year.
If you’re looking for a new job or to recruit, now is the time and don’t stop looking/recruiting in December.
- Lawyers are less willing to relocate
Cities outside Melbourne and Sydney may struggle to find candidates, particularly outside the dominant industries in that city.
With the pool of applicants limited to a single city, consider “remote working”, which will significantly increase the number of suitable applicants.
If you’re a lawyer in a smaller market looking for a change of industries but worried you don’t have the experience, apply for the role, as clients are showing much more flexibility.
To save time, money and frustration, salary and budget expectations need to be managed from the outset by jobseekers and companies. Proceeding through a process hoping that the lawyer will lower their salary expectations or the company will increase the salary is fraught. If you don’t know the company’s budget or the lawyer’s salary expectations – ask!
Andrew Murdoch is the managing director of Dovetail Legal Secondees & Recruitment.