Legal hiring expected to increase

Here's some good news to start off the New Year for the legal profession. 

Businesses plan to increase their hiring of legal professionals in the next six months, according to staffing firm Robert Half's State of Legal Hiring research.

More than half of U.S.-based lawyers (54%) said their company or law firm will expand its legal team in the first half of 2020. Of those respondents, 9 in 10 anticipate staffing at least some open positions with legal professionals on a temporary, project or consulting basis.

Litigation; privacy, data security and information law; and general business or commercial law are the top three practice areas expected to drive job growth, according to survey respondents. Within litigation, commercial litigation and insurance defense will reportedly offer the most employment opportunities in the first half of 2020.  

View a slideshow of Robert Half's State of Legal Hiring research.  

"Complex regulatory requirements, emerging business opportunities and rising caseloads are driving demand for legal professionals with experience in compliance, contract management and litigation," said Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Half Legal.

Additional findings

- The top positions law firms and companies anticipate adding in the first half of 2020 are lawyers, compliance specialists and data privacy specialists. Midlevel associates and corporate counsel with four to nine years of experience are in highest demand.

- Of the lawyers surveyed, 87% said it's difficult to find skilled legal professionals. A shortage of qualified candidates is the greatest recruiting challenge for 47% of respondents.

- Aside from legal knowledge, lawyers rate practice area expertise, industry/sector knowledge and technology skills/digital expertise as the most important factors when evaluating legal candidates.

- Nearly 8 in 10 lawyers (76%) are concerned about losing legal talent to other job opportunities in the next six months.

- Beyond compensation and bonuses, lawyers said flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities and challenging work or variety of assignments are the best incentives for retaining employees.

Sullivan added, "Top legal talent may have multiple job offers on the table. Organizations that set themselves apart by offering extra perks and benefits may have an edge over the competition when it comes to recruitment and retention." 

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