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Legal - Market Overview

Legal market update 2021

2020 presented significant challenges across all industries as companies tried to adapt to new ways of working. Although the legal market in Ireland was significantly affected at the beginning of the pandemic, particularly in practice with many firms implementing  10-15% pay cuts, the volume of in-house recruitment has increased across a number of sectors in recent months. 


Confidence and sentiment began to increase as organisations looked to 2021 to rebuild and restructure in line with market conditions.

For the release of the 2021 Robert Walters Salary Survey, we interviewed Suzanne Feeney, Country Manager at Robert Walters Ireland, about the future recruitment and remuneration trends in the Legal sector: 

How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact the hiring market in 2020?

Although the legal market in Ireland was significantly affected at the beginning of the pandemic, particularly in practice with many firms implementing 10-15% pay cuts, the volume of in-house recruitment has increased across a number of sectors over the past six months.

In many cases, the demand has come from organizations looking to increase the size of their in-house teams either due to significant growth, or the need to hire their first in-house counsel in an effort to reduce external spend.

Within private practice, we are now seeing increased demand across employment law, IT/IP, tax and EU Competition law.

Which professionals and skills do you believe to be most in demand?

Certain skill sets remain in very short supply. Top tier or Magic Circle trained Solicitors with good corporate/commercial experience at the 4–6-year PQE mark, remains hard to find.

Solicitors with a strong background in Privacy Law, or with direct industry experience in Technology and/or IP are highly sought after. Those who have trained in a large firm with 3+ years’ PQE in commercial law/data protection/privacy also have a number of in-house options. As a result, salary expectations have increased in these areas.

Similarly, demand for qualified Company Secretaries with 3+ years’ experience remains very strong. While company secretarial experienced and initial pause in March, from August onwards, there has been consistent hiring across corporate services, in-house and professional services.

What do you believe will be the biggest hiring trends of 2021?

Most Solicitors considering a move out of practice for the first time, are gravitating towards organizations with an in-house legal team as they are nervous about moving into a standalone role in the current environment.

Certain skill sets remain in very short supply. Top tier or Magic Circle trained Solicitors with good corporate/commercial experience at the 4–6-year PQE mark, remains hard to find.
 

The Technology sector in particular has become even more attractive to candidates, given salary levels, equity and flexible working arrangements. In terms of PQE, we are seeing more movement at the senior end, and overall demand is still outstripping supply the 4-6 year PQE mark remains.

Similar to other sectors and industries, legal professionals are expecting remote access and flexibility to continue WFH post-Covid, which is a change in director for many law firms.  

Plan for new hires in 2021

Robert Walters provides access to Ireland’s most comprehensive Legal salary and remuneration benchmarking tool. Developed in partnership with a market leading data provider, we assessed over 100,000 jobs posted over the last 12-months, to provide you with accurate data points on salary ranges and expectations for permanent and contract positions across Ireland. 

Request your copy of the latest Salary Survey here.

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