Factors to Consider When Looking for a New Legal Job

I’m a paralegal, and I haven’t thought about looking for a new job in 10 years. But with more law firms and corporations now hiring, I’m interested in making a career move. What factors should I consider when looking for a legal job in today’s market?

For the reason you mention, your timing is good to think about finding a new legal job. According to a Robert Half Legalsurvey of lawyers, 29 percent of respondents said their firms or companies plan to add positions in the first half of 2015. But before you draft yourresignation letter and invest significant time on job boards, you should be aware of current trends in legal hiring. There’s been quite a bit of movement in the past decade. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when considering a career move andclimbing the ladder.

Paralegal salary
While there has been a modest increase in paralegal salaries, starting compensation hasn’t quite returned to prerecession levels, according to theRobert Half Legal 2015 Salary Guide. To figure out what sort of salary you can expect, use resources like the salary guide and ourSalary Calculator to determine average starting salaries for legal positions in your area.

Many employers are willing to negotiate factors besides salary. These include career development opportunities and flexible work arrangements that can help improvework-life balance. So, during anegotiation for your starting paralegal salary, don’t forget to ask about other perks.

Promising practice areas
Litigation continues to reign supreme in the legal field, especially in subspecialties such as insurance defense, commercial law and employment law. General business and corporate law are not far behind. If you have expertise in these and otherin-demand areas, you likely will have more legal job options.

Client demands
Clients have more options for counsel than ever, meaning competition is high among firms. Because of this,client-driven demands and services are reshaping the business models of legal organizations. If you have demonstrated client management skills, highlight that ability on your cover letter and resume.

Employer expectations
According to theRobert Half Legal2015 Salary Guide, employer expectations have increased for paralegals. You’ll find that more doors open with a four-year degree and certificate of completion from an ABA-approved paralegal education program. These qualifications could also help you negotiate a higher paralegal salary.

Highly sought experience and skills
Firms and companies are looking for seasoned legal professionals with experience in compliance, contract and lease negotiation, and eDiscovery. You’ll also need to be at the top of your tech game, demonstrating proficiency in Microsoft Office, case management systems and billing. If you haven’t kept abreast of changes in law office technology, you may want to take a few refresher courses before sending out your resume.

The value of recruiters
Since you’ve been out of the job-search loop for a while, you may find it beneficial to work with a legal staffing firm. Specialized recruiters can help you polish yourlegal resume, find a legal job that aligns with your career goals and professional interests, and negotiate a competitive paralegal salary.

It’s a big step to launch a search after being with the same firm for so long, but if you’re looking to change jobs, now is a good time to make the move. Do some research, refresh your skills and spruce up your resume, and you’ll increase your chances of landing a rewarding legal job and paralegal salary.