JUNIOR lawyers are making swift moves into in-house roles while their more experienced counterparts are jostling for fewer of the coveted positions, a senior legal recruiter says. And this year, the contracts are getting shorter.
The market for in-house legal recruitment will be good this year, Lisa Gazis, managing director of Mahlab Recruitment (NSW) told The New Lawyer.
"There will be jobs at the junior level," she said. "But there are fewer roles at the general counsel and partner level. At that general counsel level, companies have a large pool of experienced partners and lawyers to pull from, so the competition is very high."
Gazis said her recruitment firm is seeing demand for jobs at all levels, including partners in law firms looking at their next career move, who are seeing in-house as a good career option. Government and international lawyers are also entering the talent pool, making top jobs in-house more difficult to find.
"At the intermediate and senior level, the jobs that comes up at that top level are not as fluid," she said.
Bolstering the high competition at this top level in-house is the fact that people tend to stay in their jobs for a long time.
"There is not as much mobility at that general counsel level either. People commit to the roles for a long time, because there are not as many opportunities out there. There are not that many people in these legal teams in-house, often with only one general counsel. So people sit there and find other ways to develop careers in that business. It's very competitive."
But ongoing global economic uncertainty means many companies are being cautious about committing to large recruitment contracts, she said. There is a burgeoning trend of two-year contract roles as companies operate under tight fiscal restraints. Gazis said she expects to see more of this sort of contract in the next year.
Companies with overseas parents are leading the two-year contract trend, Gazis says.
"I think American companies and European companies are being very cautious and have been operating under constraints. This has flow on effects.
"Not all companies are like this and it's not rampant, but when there is uncertainty in the market there is uncertainty. Some employers don't feel confident offering a full time role. They offer as much security as they can, and as far as they have the ability."