Mark Levine – head of BCL Legal’s in-house team – gives an overview of what’s happening around the UK within the in-house market

What have been the main trends/ developments for the in-house market over the past 12 months?
The main trend of 2015 has been the high volume of opportunities that have arisen within the in-house market. The number of in-house opportunities in 2015 has been at the highest level we have known since our involvement in the in-house market began 15 years ago.

The knock on effect of this demand has been the ‘tightening’ of the lawyer candidate market; put simply, the ‘war for good talent’ is at an all time high. Lawyers with the right skills and PQE level (commercial/ corporate from one to six years’ PQE especially) have had much more choice given the improved market conditions when looking for a role. Not since 2007 have lawyers been securing jobs so quickly or being ‘bought back’ by their current employers at such a rate.

What have been the real growth areas and where has the demand been coming from?
Everywhere! All sectors have been busy. However, the sectors that we have seen increased demand in have been financial services, retail, e-commerce, construction, manufacturing and IT/ telecoms.

London and the South East is always a busy market place, but as we specialise across England we have seen growth in in-house teams across all locations, including the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West.

Looking at the number of in-house vacancies registered the market has been around 25% busier than in 2014 which was also a very active recruitment market.

What have been the key stories that have dominated the in-house market?
1. The continued rise in private practice lawyers from leading firms looking for an alternative career with moving in-house an obvious option.

2. In previous years as the permanent market has become stronger, the interim requirements have diminished. This has not been the case in 2015, with client requirements for interim resource also being strong.

3. Clients have also been far more willing to interview lawyers who don’t on paper automatically fit the exact brief. Through necessity it has become imperative to focus on transferable skills as well as personality fit.

What are your predictions for the in-house market for 2016?
Save for a financial crash - or some other unpredicted catastrophe hitting the world - 2016 looks like it will be as busy as 2015.

How would you sum up 2015 in one sentence?
An exciting year for lawyers looking for an in-house move and a bit more testing for legal teams looking for their ‘perfect’ new recruit.