Mark Levine – director & head of BCL Legal’s in-house team...
What have been the main trends/ developments in your region/ sector over the past 12 months?
Central/ South: Increased business and consumer confidence has definitely transferred into an increased appetite for additional staff. In 2012, the focus was on junior team members but in 2013 we have seen a definite upswing towards more senior legal roles on both a temporary and permanent basis.
There is also still an appetite for specialist disciplines as companies and organisations look to bring more work in-house. We have seen a growing number of opportunities for commercial property, construction and projects solicitors which have been driven - in part - by the impact of the recent ‘Right-to-Buy’ legislation as well as the UK’s renewable energy targets and a general upswing in confidence and funding for infrastructure projects. The impact of new legislation and new regulatory bodies – such as the FCA and Defence Trade Controls - has also created roles for dedicated legal compliance staff.
The technology sector is undoubtedly the most buoyant and we are seeing roles at every level. As more commerce, banking and shopping is undertaken online - and our lives are increasingly connected - existing teams are expanding and new sole/ first counsel positions are being created. Salaries in this sector are also noticeably higher than more traditional markets. We have also seen an insatiable appetite for IT/IP/Telco solicitors; particularly in the Thames Valley as well as growth across finance, professional services, property and manufacturing.
As always, the market for high-calibre junior commercial solicitors (with two to six years’ PQE) remains very strong and demand is still outstripping supply. That being said, interest in an in-house career move has never been higher amongst private practice solicitors.
Yorkshire: There has been a large number of ‘first time’ in-house legal appointments (for example, Bridon International, B Braun, Severfield Rowen, All Square Financial and Trustmarque Solutions). This trend perhaps reflects the increased need for companies to improve their contractual positions in the current business environment and enhanced regulatory framework.
Midlands: In terms of growing trends, continuation of recruitment into compliance functions is still strong. A new development in 2013 has been an increase in recruitment of data protection specialists in the wake of the proposed changes to the legislative requirements in this area with organisations seeking individuals with either legal (qualified solicitors) or compliance backgrounds. Senior moves have also been buoyant with a larger volume of senior GC appointments when compared to 2012.
North West: The vast majority of recruitment has been driven by teams expanding. The North West in-house legal market is definitely growing and during 2013 organisations across the region have been bolstering their legal teams and building on the growth witnessed in 2012. Increasingly, many appreciate the value that in-house lawyers provide and, as a consequence, continue to invest in and create new positions. We have witnessed growth across the full spectrum of sectors including manufacturing, defence, energy, technology, retail, FMCG, leisure and sport. Recruitment is happening at all executive levels from general counsel to junior counsel but – increasingly - more lawyers are making the move in-house at a junior level. Also, we are seeing more specialist roles such as commercial property and compliance.
What have been the real growth areas and where has the demand been coming from?
There is always strong demand for general commercial lawyers to work in-house and that has continued in 2013. If I had to pick out a couple of areas where there has been a higher demand than normal this would include data protection, compliance and financial services – especially related to the FCA.
What are your predictions for the in-house sector in 2014?
As long as there is no economic collapse, there will be continued growth. Knowledge of compliance, data protection and financial services regulation will be in high demand.
How would you sum up 2013 in one sentence?
As the economic recovery has taken hold throughout the year so has the volume of new roles coming on to the market for in-house lawyers!