Harvard Law Professor David Wilkins recently went on record observing that in-house legal departments have become a leading destination for talented graduates and practicing attorneys. Wilkins’s statement coincides with the rise of corporate law as one of the booming areas of job opportunities. In fact, reviews show a budgetary shift of 6% from outside counsel to internal legal departments in the corporate world. Many of these developments accompany major shifts in the overarching trends of legal staffing.
Trends in the overall landscape of legal practice show an uptick in wider conglomerates taking up huge shares of the market, leaving mid-sized firms to sink or swim. This push from major law firms is marked by mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring. In light of these changes, talent pools are seeing corresponding shifts.
There is an increased demand for support and specialists who understand the technology necessary to compete in the modern legal market. Modern IP law in particular demands a data-driven approach that requires specialized technological skills, and the proliferation of tech in every facet of life has driven an increasing need for security analysts and information governance in support of legal departments.
Tech has changed not just the way we do business in the United States, but across the world. Both private industries and law firms have seen continental mergers over the past decade, with the ever-expanding and evaporating borders of the modern world. This increase in international commerce has led to a demand for in-house specialists that understand international law. The legal industry has also seen a paradigm shift in the form of legal process outsourcing, which often sends legal matters to offshore firms.
Increased workloads from layoffs following the recession impacted the already tight schedules of working attorneys. With many sacrificing their personal lives for the sake of professional performance, a demand for better work-life balance has become an increasing demand of lawyers. This demand has led many workplaces to adopt policies like flex-time and part-time. High speed communication has also led to the rise of virtual law firms, remote work, and telecommuting.
Along with the rest of the job market, contract work and outsourcing have become an increasing pool of talent that employers draw from. With pressure to manage legal expenses, firms offering counsel have implemented alternative pricing models from the traditional billable-hours. Some of these pricing standards include fixed, bended, and capped fees. In fact, sources indicate that 72.8% of outside counsel fees were paid on arrangements other than billable hours pricing. Patent law and eDiscovery are two of the most in-demand resources for out-of-house solutions.
While trends show an uptick in legal work conducted in-house, outsourcing allows firms to manage costs with existing operations while expanding without recruitment, training, or retention. Trustworthy vendors provide transparent pricing and adequate support. The difference between running these services in-house versus outsourcing is negligible in every area aside from cost.