2020: A Good or Bad Time to Consider a Move In-House?
2020! What a year!! (and it’s barely 50% over).
Whilst it's undeniable that COVID-19 has brought a raft of changes to organisations (a brief skim of the daily news will show that a number of organisations are currently having to review their daily operational/working practices or unfortunately, have entered into temporary restructuring or hiring freezes), COVID-19 may also have the unexpected result of a surge of activity in the in-house jobs market later in the year.
Why, I hear you ask (when a surge of anything except the infamous “R” rate seems completely impossible at this stage):
as mentioned above, a number of organisations have formally or informally introduced hiring freezes, which means that when the economy picks up pace (which inevitably it will), those organisations will then be looking to refill those roles (and perhaps on a more aggressive timetable than before);
during the interim period, where in-house firms’ budgets have been reduced there will be a natural inclination to try and increase the amount of work done in-house and to limit the amount of work being given to external lawyers (this may mean that lawyers feel that the breadth and variety of work they might experience in-house may actually be more far more interesting over the course of the next year than the type of work on offer in private practice); and
COVID-19 has provided fee earners in private practice with time to reflect on their current roles/working practices and many may decide for various reasons that this presents the perfect opportunity to actually start putting in place a plan to make their move in-house.
As such, this article sets out some of the points that individuals considering a move in-house may want to consider.
Data produced by the Law Society’s “Annual Statistical Report” shows year-on-year that the number of lawyers making the move to an in-house role continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. According to the most recent survey: almost one quarter of the legal profession are now employed in-house.
But many private practice lawyers remain unsure about making the leap: either confused as to when is the right time in your career to make what feels like a giant move or concerned that their experience will not seem valuable enough to in-house employers. We see this time and time again at Lunaria Partners and as such our advice would be to anyone currently considering a move in-house:
Use some of the lockdown down time to ensure that your CV is up-to-date and consider whether a refresh is required. Our website has a number of hints and tips as to how to maximise the power of your CV (some as simple as changing the font and/or template!);
Consider taking advantage of the downtime to speak to recruiters about their experience of the in-house market and the types of opportunities that generally presented themselves pre-COVID, so that when the market does pick up you will be well placed to move quickly should interesting job opportunities arise and first on their list when vacancies do arise;
Start considering specific sectors that really excite you and use the downtime to research the type of roles/attributes that these companies look for. You could do this by looking at job specifications online that were posted some time ago (and therefore likely to not be current). Once you have found a couple, let your recruiter the areas of particular interest so that they can keep you in mind once roles do pop up;
Consider using the downtime to add additional skills to your resume (i.e., completing project management certificates (often promoted on Groupon at a discount) or reading up on new/emerging technologies.
From our experience, over the last several years, we have seen an explosion of demand for in-house lawyers with commercial, IT, corporate, banking, finance, employment, energy and litigation experience. Having said that in-house roles also really like candidates with in-house experience (which is something a lot of lawyers have through secondments arising through private practice but which is often experience that they tend to devalue).
If this article has inspired you to update your CV, then please do remember to focus on the experience you DO HAVE rather than the experience you don’t have. Often lawyers are too quick to discount the amazing experiences and skills that you have acquired.
If you would find it helpful to have a confidential chat with one of our specialist legal compliance consultants about the contents of your CV then please do send it through to email@example.com with the email subject “2020! What a year!!” and we will happily arrange a time to talk through your experience in depth and help to identify the relevant in-house experience you already have and your transferable skills and provide advice on how to structure your CV to give you the best chance of securing an interview.