Difference of opinion
Two recruiters have given contrasting perspectives on the state of the in-house market in Australia.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly from his base in Melbourne, Burgess Paluch director Doron Paluch said that there has been a spike in demand for in-house roles recently in Melbourne and Perth, but it is hard to put a finger on exactly why.
“Companies are looking to reduce their external legal spend and here has been a lot of activity, but I don’t think the movements in-house have any discernible connection to the private practice recruitment scene,” said Paluch.
Paluch said that recently his firm has placed lawyers for Toyota and for Serco, who provide facilities management and support services for the new Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.
“Many more lawyers want to move in-house than want to go into private practice,” said Paluch. “We get more responses when we run adverts for corporates or the in-house market than we do for any law firm.
“If I ran a corporate ad for a top-tier firm I may or may not get any good CVs, but if I ran an ad for a good company looking for lawyers, I will always get a good response.”
The two-speed economy in Queensland, which has seen the resources boom continue apace while the retail sector struggles and external administration appointments continue to rise, has shaken up the in-house recruitment market.
“Something we have seen in our market in Brisbane is that a lot of people in the in-house market are looking to move back into private practice,” said Ryan Webster (pictured), a legal manager with Robert Walters in Brisbane. Webster said that June was characterised by a feeling of “batten down the hatches” as salary reviews were being conducted and private practice lawyers were waiting to see if there would be any inducements or promotions to start the 2012-13 financial year. However, he said that demand was starting to flow into the market from expatriate lawyers returning home.
“We are seeing [that] the reduction in number of people looking in the Brisbane market is covered by an increase in the number of people looking to return home,” he said. “The last two in-house roles that we have placed with clients in Brisbane have been from Australian-qualified lawyers that have gone overseas and are now coming home.
“I imagine that will pick up as the UK heads into winter and the British economy still doesn’t show any sign of turning around.”
Both Paluch and Webster said that demand remained sluggish for in-house roles in the property, construction, tourism and retail sectors.
Webster also noted that as the mid-cap resources companies operating in Queensland get bigger they are starting to look to establish in-house legal teams, which could provide depth to the Brisbane in-house recruitment market in the long term.