As a specialist recruiter focusing on placing lawyers in-house in the Midlands, the majority of the assignments I am instructed on are for organisations seeking mid or senior level commercial or transactional lawyers to undertake a varied role.
As the in-house market has grown over the last 10 years or so, so has the demand for specialists making the move in-house and in 2014, 25% of the appointments I have assisted clients with have been for specialist lawyers to assist in areas such as data protection, compliance, litigation and competition roles in-house. One trend that has been notable is that of organisations seeking commercial property lawyers. In the last 5 years, there has not been a large volume of in-house commercial property opportunities arising in the Midlands (maybe 2 or 3 per annum). However, this year I have been instructed on 6 positions and counting!
So what has led to the increase in activity in this area? Most of the opportunities I have worked on have been with retailer or development businesses who have been seeking to increase the capacity of the legal team with additional resource due to the business expanding or becoming more active in relation to its commercial property interests. This in turn is creating opportunities for real estate lawyers to move roles and therefore alternatively some organisations are seeking to replace existing team members who are moving on.
The typical opportunities I have worked on include:
A senior commercial property lawyer to work for a successful retailer to focus on landlord and tenant work and manage a small team;
A real estate lawyer with significant development experience to join a UK business focusing on the non operational land and development portfolio within that area;
A real estate lawyer to join a global developer and logistics business to support the head of legal in a small UK team with both development and asset management work.
As there is never a large volume of in-house real estate opportunities available in the regions, real estate lawyers who might be interested in a move into a business are not always actively seeking this type of opportunity. This combined with the fact that the majority of real estate lawyers are extremely busy in their current role, means that there is not necessarily the time to look for a new role.
A move in-house is not for everyone, however, if you are seeking to be more involved in a business and develop your career in a different direction then a move in-house can offer an interesting and enjoyable career!