In-House Legal Job Market Update – October 2020

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After experiencing the most erratic year in my professional recruitment career, I can finally see an improvement in job activity across the UK and Ireland, with a considerable demand for In-House Privacy Lawyers and Employment Lawyers, especially those with EMEA experience. Undoubtedly Fintech and Cloud/SaaS are the least affected sectors have benefited from the surge of remote working and contactless payments. These sectors are hiring an array of in-house lawyers with the option to work remote on a permanent basis, which is causing a huge concern for start-ups and SME’s who are unable to hire legal talent as US Tech Corporations are offering amazing salaries and perks.

Right now, companies are planning what the future of their offices will look like which has created a considerable volume of legal work for Employment Lawyers who have never been busier and Property Litigators are also very high in demand too. Hate to mention Brexit, but it is on the way very soon and this will forever change the In-house legal team structure in the UK. Privacy Teams are relocating to Dublin and other EU Countries to remain compliant within the EU GDPR guidelines however, UK GDPR will create opportunities but with no EMEA focus and will be less stimulating for Privacy Lawyers who enjoy having an EMEA wide remit. The majority of UK GC’s are taking advantage of remote workers as a means to allow their team members to operate remotely within the EU jurisdiction, which will enable teams to transform an EMEA wide legal function to better suit their future company structure after Brexit. Many of our close General Counsel contacts are very much ambassadors of this new normal and have implemented SaaS/PaaS and other Artificial Intelligence software to ensure the workflow from his/her Legal Team remains efficient and fully transparent. Many GC’s are really positive about the future of hiring for their legal teams as extremely specialist/hard to find lawyers can now be found for roles which are regionally based and this will also expand a much larger talent pool to choose from.

We have seen growth primarily in eCommerce and technology, especially Fintech/SaaS, in Dublin where Privacy Lawyers have an array of job choices at all levels. Another buoyant legal job market is within the pharma sector, specifically in The UK, Switzerland and Germany as the race continues to develop a Covid vaccine, in most cases EU language skills are no longer required and remote working roles are being offered for Privacy Lawyers. Most recently we have seen numerous Corporate Counsel roles been created within Private Equity and Asset Management who are seeking to raise in the region of €250bn to invest in private lending deals with major investment banks who are eager to lure investors away from public markets. These opportunities tend to be for Corporate Transactional Lawyers with 2-6 yrs PQE form Magic Circle Firms in London and New York. When the 2008 crisis happened, many lawyers from the magic circle were lured by Sovereign Wealth Funds in the Middle East to focus on corporate transactional work in acquiring iconic world buildings and public listed stocks however, there seems to be little or no sign of any newly created job opportunities. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is currently remodelling its entire country with trillions of dollars being invested into Giga Projects, this has created a number of corporate counsel and real estate opportunities for international lawyers, but the work location is far from appealing.

While this horrid pandemic continues, job uncertainty and the winding down of EU Covid19 relief payments/UK Furlough scheme will result with redundancies, on a positive note the number of redundancies in Private Practice and In-house during this pandemic is pretty marginal. In most cases, In-House lawyers who lost their jobs this year have managed to find a new role with relative ease, which is a very different contrast to the 2008 financial crisis. The option to work remotely also means that lawyers can now consider roles in major cities across the world, in the future, this will be a huge game-changer.

At EMEA Legal, we’re very positive that by March 2021 the EU in-house legal job market will be fully restored to its former glory with far more flexibility and the option to work for global tech corporations from your home office. If you’re considering a career move and would like a confidential conversation about your career expectations, please contact Liam Taaffe – or simply schedule a call via this link: 

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