5 Things to Know About Legal Hiring and Compensation in 2020

By Jamy J. Sullivan, Executive Director Robert Half Legal

There’s no end in sight to the legal talent shortage. This means hiring and recruitment will continue to be a challenge for managers in the months ahead. In fact, 87% of lawyers said it is difficult for their law firm or corporate legal department to find skilled legal professionals in the current job market, according to the 2020 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide.

In a climate where talented legal professionals often receive multiple job offers, it’s more important than ever for managers to streamline their recruiting and hiring processes. The first step to accomplishing this is understanding the current direction of the legal job market.

Here are five of the most important hiring and compensation trends legal managers will encounter in 2020.

1. Salary is king — but perks are in the royal court

The most skilled candidates for in-demand legal positions know what salaries they can command — and aren’t afraid to ask for them. Make sure you’re offering competitive compensation by consulting our Salary Guide, which contains the average starting salaries of nearly 50 positions, from general counsel to office clerk. Local variances in the Salary Guide and the online Salary Calculator can help you calculate pay scales for your market.

Employees at all experience levels also evaluate the perks an organization offers as a way of gauging company culture. Individualized accommodations such as flextime, telecommuting, wellness programs and on-site childcare can have a significant impact on your ability to land top talent — and retain key employees.

2. Time is of the essence

Legal professionals with multiple job offers won’t stay on the market long. Thirty-nine percent of workers polled said seven to 14 days is too long to wait to hear back after an interview, while 23% move on after a week. Despite this, lawyers surveyed by our company said that, on average, it takes five weeks to hire for staff-level positions and six weeks to staff management-level roles.

To remain competitive, it’s crucial that you work with colleagues to implement efficient and up-to-date recruiting and hiring processes so you’re able to make a prompt offer when the right candidate comes along. This process often includes a flexible staffing strategy, allowing managers to bring in skilled interim employees who can help stave off staff burnout during candidate searches.

3. Office culture matters

Over one-third (35%) of workers polled by our company said they’d pass on a perfect job if the organization’s corporate culture didn’t feel like a good fit. Make sure your workplace embodies the attributes that employees prize, such as innovation, a supportive atmosphere and a team-oriented work style.

Don’t forget to tout aspects of your organizational culture in job postings and during the interview so candidates know you take this factor as seriously as they do. Additionally, promote core values on your website and showcase your corporate culture in action via your social media accounts or by using a branded hashtag.

4. Specialists are highly sought

According to the Salary Guide, litigation will continue its reign as the most in-demand practice area, with general business and commercial law, real estate, trusts and estates, compliance, data privacy, and information law all hot on its heels.

There is an especially high demand for associates with expertise in technology, financial services and the energy sector. Many organizations are also seeing increased hiring activities for in-house legal professionals, thanks in part to an uptick in mergers and acquisitions.

5. Tech skills are vital for support staff

Legal support staff are already expected to be somewhat tech savvy. As these positions evolve, hiring managers will look for candidates who are also able to handle more complicated tech-related tasks, such as managing eDiscovery requests, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings and data privacy compliance. Additionally, as workflow automation becomes more popular, it’s a good idea to look for forward-thinking employees who can help identify ways to exploit the benefits of new technologies.

Prepare for hiring in 2020 by understanding the trends that will significantly impact the legal job market. Doing so will give you a leg up on the competition, allowing you to fortify your teams and ensure the success of your organization.