Legal Recruitment Market, Ireland
Review of 2022
Recruitment remained steady in the legal market in 2022 with law firms and in-house legal teams alike competing for the best talent.
There is no doubt that those at the 2-6 year pqe level were most in demand. For the law firms this was due to a combination of associates setting their sights on overseas markets (London is well and truly calling!) or taking the plunge and moving to an in-house role. Movement between the law firms in Dublin (at all levels) was at a steady high in 2022 particularly with so many opportunities coming on stream at the international firms that were either setting up in Dublin or merging with domestic firms.
Evelyn Partners published their annual review of law firms and sited that over 50% of the 108 firms surveyed suggested recruitment and retention of staff as a key concern. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth reviewing: Irish Law Firm Survey 2022 | Evelyn Partners.
Over the past few years international law firms have entered the Dublin market and grown out their corporate and asset management/funds offerings, but what we’ve seen in the past 12 months are those with their eye on the data privacy and regulation markets (either technology or financial). Some are also operating their EU Competition teams between Dublin and London, since having a foothold in the Dublin/EU market makes commercial sense.
In-House Legal Teams
2022 also saw a large increase in In-house Legal Counsel opportunities, again lawyers with 2-6 year pqe being the most sought after.
Why is the in-house market growing? The pandemic certainly had an impact on the surge of in-house employment law positions, but I think more generally ‘in-house’ legal teams are maturing and more companies are seeing the commercial benefit of keeping (some/most) of the legal work in-house, which in turn results in a need to increase the headcount of the legal team.
Companies hiring in-house counsel cuts across all sectors; technology, pharmaceuticals, banking, fintech, funds/asset management, insurance etc.
Commercial contracts (being the bread and butter of most companies) is highly sought after experience, as are specialisms such as regulatory knowledge, investment funds, privacy and data protection.
Remote work trends
Most companies and law firms we work with tend to offer some sort of hybrid working arrangement, it’s very much become the norm. This will either be 2 or 3 days onsite with the other days remote. Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday are the most popular days to be onsite. Some companies are mandating specific days in the office (usually a Tuesday or Wednesday).
Very few of the clients we work with offer a fully remote option. And while it is something some of our candidates request, most people are happy to work in the office 2-3 days per week. There are various reasons for this – wellbeing, learning, a more comfortable space. But the reverse is also true with many people reporting that having a hybrid option has had a positive impact on their overall wellbeing.
This, of course, is not one size fits all, solicitors who focus on areas of law such as conveyancing or litigation tend to spend most days in the office due to a high volume of paperwork and court work. Regardless of the working model, companies and firms continue to report highly productive teams and seem to be adapting well to these changes.
Candidates V Clients – a winning formula
Across the board, our clients are now realising that in this current market (‘candidate-driven’) they really have to work to sell their firms, their culture and the opportunity to the candidate in order to attract them to their organisation. Candidates are very focused on culture – they are drawn to respectful cultures and cultures that promote diversity and inclusion and what we now identify as a “bringing your whole self to work” mindset.
Candidates like to understand the D&I, ESG and remote working policies of the organisations they are ‘choosing’ to interview with. In this market many candidates have multiple processes ongoing and sometimes multiple offers (naturally this is less the case at the senior end of the market where choice is more limited). While money does talk, culture features very high on the list for candidates and is as important as the salary and package on offer.
The return of the counter-offer
The increased demand for legal talent has seen the return of counter-offers in the past 12-18 months. In a candidate-driven market, counter-offers are an unwelcome feature. As firms desperately try to hang on to their teams, knowing that replacing them will take time and money, counter-offers become prevalent.
Our experience is 87% of candidates who accept counter-offers move within 12 months. It’s important for firms to realise counter-offers are hugely counterproductive and only retain team members for a short period of time.
Navigating the recruitment process – keep the momentum going!
If you’re someone who regularly hires you will understand the need for speed! In this market you really need to keep the momentum going.
While we don’t recommend making an offer after one meeting (this is too fast and overwhelming for any candidate) we certainly encourage you to keep the whole process moving by lining up partners/HR or any decision makers for interviews within a set timeframe. This will ensure you don’t delay and potentially lose a good candidate.
At the senior end processes can take 6-8 weeks, this is to be expected, but it’s important that you set a timeframe with a clear idea of when you’d like to close out the process. This shows you have a structured process with a clearly defined end date.
If you haven’t hired for a few years you might find the speed at which candidates can drop off the market (due to your competition snapping them up) surprising.
We ask our candidates to be transparent and let us know if they are interviewing elsewhere or are close to another offer, this helps everyone in the process since we all know where we stand and how fast we need to move.
We also respect the fact that our candidates want to close out interview processes they might be in with other firms or companies. Giving them the space and time to do this means they will make the best choice in the long run.
Legal Recruitment – 2023
We are pleased to report that the first quarter of 2023 has kept pace with hiring levels in 2022. We are expecting similar hiring trends across private practice and in-house legal recruitment over the coming 12 months.
Salary Guide – Points to note
It’s worth noting that the salary information included in this salary guide relates to basic salaries and gives a broad overview of compensation we have seen on the market. Salaries in one industry can differ greatly to another, regardless of solicitors having the same PQE. Also a General Counsel managing a team who has a global remit can be paid significantly more than a General Counsel in medium sized company with no direct reports.
There is also a reasonable difference in salaries at large law firms versus medium sized firms.
Legal professionals with a specialism will always carry a premium, for example, software licencing, funds, IP/IT, fintech, data privacy and aviation leasing.
Companies providing benefits to their employees are more likely to have higher employee retention rates, lower turnover and a strong talent pool available to them.
These are the key points identified by employees as valued benefits:
- Health Insurance – Tends to vary from company to company, sector to sector but includes; full/ partial or membership to company healthcare scheme.
- Performance related bonus and incentives for high performers.
- Education and continuous training.Employers need to be aware of how important the overall renumeration package is in order to attract and retain their staff.
Your Legal Team
Sarah Kelly, Legal Partner
t: +35316377071 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Kelly is a Partner at The Panel. She joined the company in 2006 and heads up the legal recruitment practice.
Sarah has over 17 years’ experience recruiting Partners, Associates and In-House Counsel for leading Irish and international law firms, investment managers, insurance, banking and aviation leasing organisations.
In addition, she manages senior assignments for global technology, fintech, pharmaceutical, retail and FMCG organisations. She is highly networked in the legal market.
Sarah is the Dublin Partner for the CLO Network, a global community of Chief Legal Officers headquartered in London.
Sarah is a member of100 Women in Finance and was actively involved in setting up the Dublin location.
She has spoken on panels at the GAIM OPS conference in Dublin on the recruitment & retention of financial services talent, at the 100Women in Finance NextGen career event, the Law Society Young Solicitors’ Careers event and at the CLO Network panel ‘Stepping up to GC Level’.
Sarah participated in the Irish Management Institute’s Corporate Mentoring Programme.
In addition, Sarah completed the American Chamber of Commerce Peer Learning and Mentoring Programme in 2020.
Sarah holds a BA in French and Sociology from University College Dublin, and a Diploma in Sales and Marketing from Dublin Institute of Technology. She is a Fellow of the National Recruitment Federation of Ireland.
Sarah recruits for the following:
- Partners and Associates in top and mid-tier law firms and international & boutique firms
- General Counsel, Head of Legal, Legal Counsel, Assistant Counsel in sec- tors including financial services, aviation leasing, technology, pharma, re- tail, fintech and professional services
- Company secretarial and compliance professionals at all levels
t: +35316377021 | e: email@example.com
Ailbhe Mullen works alongside Sarah Kelly and focuses on Company Secretarial and HR recruitment.
She has 7 years’ experience as the Global Executive Director of IIBN (Irish International Business Network) and is a founding member of the IIBN New York Chapter (2008).
Her key skills lie in business development, recruitment, customer relations, human resources, strategic planning, liaison with staff and management / C-suite, and training. She is highly qualified and able to handle all candidate and client needs.
Ailbhe has qualifications in Human Resource Management from New York University, New York, US.
Ailbhe recruits for the following:
- Company Secretaries, HR Business Partners / HR Managers / HR Executives / HR Generalists / HR Specialists
- Office Managers, Executive Assistants (EA), Personal Assistants (PA), Talent Leaders, Recruitment Managers, Recruiters
- Legal Administrators, Legal Executives
The Panel—Sustainability, Diversity & Inclusion
As time moves on the sustainable responsibility of employers are becoming more and more important, therefore we here at The Panel take great pride in doing our best in meeting our target in this area. We take responsibility for our candi- dates, clients, and every part of our business in order to offer and supply solutions that positively impact those around us.
Knowing that you are partnering with a responsible organisation, should offer you peace of mind.
Read more on our Sustainability Policy here.
Diversity & Inclusion
In The Panel we actively focus on sourcing talent through a D&I lens – we know diverse teams make for better functioning and more collaborative teams.
The Panel and our Managing Partner Anne Keys were instrumental in the setup and launch of 100 Women in Finance in Ireland in 2017 and Anne is currently acting as the Co-Chair for 100 Women In Finance Dublin.
Anne organises and hosts iNED workshops for women. Attendees include C-suite executives considering a career as an iNED and for women who have just moved into this space.
In November 2017, The Panel signed up to the Ibec/30% Club’s “Voluntary Code of Conduct for Recruitment and Executive Search Firms Code”.
This Code recognises the importance of search firms and client organisations working together to deliver change based on four principles:
- Strategy & Goals
- Talent Pipeline
- Monitoring & Reporting
What can The Panel help you with?
Regulations – guiding candidates and clients through the Irish regulatory environment.
Market analysis – updating candidates and clients on current trends.
Talent acquisition – for clients we help source the best candidates for the role at hand.
Advice – we provide our candidates and clients with the most up-to-date information available regarding the market, the recruitment processes and the best remunerative options available to both.
Technology & Resources – offering candidates and clients the most up to date in recruitment and AI technology, enabling a quicker and more efficient recruitment process from start to finish.
Diversity & Inclusion at The Panel
As a company The Panel has successfully strived for internal diversity and inclusivity and in doing so we firmly believe that puts us in a strong position to be ambassadors for our clients in an Ireland that is becoming ever more progressive, diverse and inclusive.
- We support groups for women in business e.g. 100 Women in Finance & Women Executives.
- We employ 11 different nationalities with various cultural and religious beliefs.
- We have a higher proportion of female employees.
- We have two joint MD’s at the Panel, 1 male and 1 female.
We believe we are one of the most diverse and inclusive recruitment companies in Ireland, putting us in a position to help our clients achieve the same.
We instil the following approach through rigorous training of our employees;
- Equal Employment Opportunity is a fundamental right of all employees and applicants for employment.
- The Panel undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any applicant in respect of the subject matter of
disclosures made pursuant to the pre-engagement screening process or any other information revealed
during the engagement process.
- All applicants are provided a full and fair opportunity for employment, without regard to race, colour,
religion, national origin, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, genetic information or parental status
- We promote equality for all candidates.
- We foster and support a globally diverse and inclusive workforce with our clients and place a high value on
diversity and equal opportunity.
- We believe it is important for applicants to be considered for the employment of their choice and have the
chance to perform to their maximum potential.
- The Panel is an equal opportunity Employer and Recruiter.