Mark Levine – head of In-house at BCL Legal: From Bust to Boom – 2012 a Year in Review

After the financial crises of 2008/09, the in-house legal recruitment market picked up considerably in 2011… with what I described as ‘the tap being turned back on’ as far as recruitment was concerned. However by early 2012, with Greece on the edge of bringing down the Eurozone once again, it seemed it was going to be another exceptionally difficult year.

Unlike lawyers in private practice where a role can be created around the individual this is not the case in-house. So - no matter how good you are - unless a company in your desired location and at an appropriate level is recruiting, it is near on impossible to create a vacancy.

Thankfully with January out the way, existing and new clients to BCL Legal enlisted our help to fill their vacancies.

In Yorkshire and the North East, we have assisted the likes of Aviva, DHL, Drax, Poundworld, Siemens Power and UKAR (Bradford and Bingley/ Northern Rock). Across the North West we have been working with companies such as BAE Systems, Gazprom, Innospec, James Fisher PLC, JD Sports, Speedy Hire, Victrex PLC and The Hut. Whilst in the Midlands, Alliance Boots, Ashfield in2 Focus, Allied Healthcare, Homeserve, Michelin, Molson Coors, Iron Mountain and Saint Gobain have all come on board.

Over the past couple of years we have also been growing our presence in the South and some of our key briefs have been with DHL and Bosch Siemens Home Appliances in Milton Keynes, IRIS Software in Windsor, Thermo Fisher Clinical Services in Sussex, Software AG in Berkshire, BAE Systems in Farnborough and W Lucy in Oxford.

A particular focus for BCL Legal in 2012 has been the University sector. Given the changes to the traditional funding model for universities they are promoting themselves to international students as well as entering into various commercial ventures with the private sector. The knock on effect is the requirement for more lawyers and this year we have been working with Lancaster, Salford and Coventry universities to help them build their legal resource.

No professional will have missed the ever growing requirement on companies to take compliance in to the heart of their organisation. Two extremely recent examples convey that this affects every company large and small. HSBC and its $1.9 billion fine for mistakes that allowed money laundering and a Cheshire based mortgage company that was fined £1.225 million for failing to treat customers fairly in the sale of mortgages and arrears handling. Interestingly in the latter case the compliance director was also personally fined and banned form holding a ‘significant influence function’ in the future.

This changing business environment has again had an affect on legal recruitment with compliance featuring as more of a dominant force in 2012. The most high profile role we completed in this area was for chemical company Innospec based in Ellesmere Port. In next month’s ‘The Brief’ Ruth Taylor will be looking more in depth at compliance and its affect on in-house legal teams.

With all this - and more going on - you wouldn’t think we had time for anything else… but we have run over 40 free seminars for in-house lawyers across the UK. Many leading law firms have teamed up with us to offer over 100 CPD points which over 1,500 in-house lawyers took advantage of. We are once again delighted to be rolling out this programme with Boyes Turner in Reading in 2013.

2013 is BCL Legal’s 10th year in business which is an exciting milestone for all of us across the firm. The in-house team has worked hard to get to know the market in each of its particular locations – and it is with this knowledge that our value to both candidate lawyers and clients becomes worth something. All we can hope for 2013 is that the economy as a whole continues to grow, opportunities for in-house lawyers exist and BCL Legal gets to play its part.