Ben McShane - Director, Finance, Legal & Accounting
Ben is the Director of Cpl’s Financial Services Recruitment team which is the leading FS Recruitment team in Ireland. Our clients include Investment Managers, Banks, Consulting Firms, Insurers, Law Firms and Fund Services Providers. Prior to working in Cpl, Ben worked within Investment Management in a prestigious Private Bank and in Fund Services with one of the world’s largest Global Custodians.
Legal Sector assessments
The legal market has experienced another year of sustained growth, which has further driven the demand for talent within the industry. There has been a continued influx of UK and US law firms into Ireland, creating a reorganisation at all levels. The increase in partner moves this year has also created a wave of internal shifts in well-established firms. Areas such as Corporate, Funds, Tax, Data Protection and Banking remain the most buoyant specialisms. Solicitors in these areas seek a premium, which is leading to firms investing in more competitive salaries, benefits and working from home arrangements to retain their top talent alongside some excellent bonuses. The most in-demand roles are mid-level, 3-5 PQE Data Protection Lawyers, Privacy, Corporate Lawyers, Financial Services Lawyers, and Company Secretaries.
Solicitors in senior positions are also adopting alternative titles such as ‘Head of,’ ‘Director’ and ‘of Counsel’ rather than moving directly to partnership. Newly qualified solicitors are faced with more opportunities than in previous years and top performers are being paid favourably to remain with their training firms. The rise in partner movement has created an upward pressure on Senior Associate salaries and candidates moving at this level are seeking clear career progression. There is a high demand for Solicitors at the 2-6 PQE level and firms are competing forcefully to entice and retain the market’s top talent. Firms are also becoming more open to flexible working options to attract candidates.
On the in-house side, we are continuing to see a move away from commercial contract-based roles to a wider variety of transactional and financing-based positions. The last year has seen a significant increase on the overall number of in-house roles available. With an increase on international companies moving to Dublin, there is a considerable number of opportunities available at all levels. There has never been such a demand for junior lawyers to move in-house and the last year has seen high numbers of private practice solicitors making the move.
The Compliance market has once again been busy in areas such as AML and KYC, especially within the Corporate Banking space. Opportunities for GDPR and General Compliance Specialists are plentiful, with more roles being created in this area to answer the demands of the market.
The Company Secretarial market is an area of high demand and low supply of suitable talent, which has proven an obstacle this year for both in-house and private practice company secretarial departments. Strong ICSA candidates have been maximising value over the last 12 months and will continue to do in 2022. Company Secretaries within the Funds space are in huge demand amongst all organisations. Organisations are offering a premium to candidates with at least 2 years’ experience within Funds.
Positives of the Legal market
It is an exciting time to be involved in the Legal market. In 2022, there will be an increase in the number of firms that are moving to the Work from Home model. The most common offer seems to be the 3:2 split with most of the major Law firms moving towards this. With the vast majority of Law firms operating from the Dublin area, WFH opportunities should allow some decentralisation of staffing, with people in other regions now being considered part of the Dublin talent pool. To keep up with demand firms are also increasing available benefits. With options like, working abroad for up to 3 months being used as a lure to retain highly qualified talent and career path progress plans being put in place to encourage new hires. In addition to this the number of in-house opportunities is increasing the availability of senior roles within law firms. Another fantastic initiative that has been established this year is the Women in Leadership Programme, this gives all female lawyers who have been qualified for 5 years a chance to be mentored by senior colleagues to help increase the percentage of women being retained in senior positions.
Negatives of the Legal market
While there are a lot of positives surrounding the Legal market there are also some negatives. There has been a high number of lawyers looking to get into new areas. Whether this is relationship management, strategy, or completely unique areas. The long hours expected to be put in by Lawyers has seen several candidates make the move to other sectors. While the hours are still as tough as ever, the balance of working from home in 2022 will hopefully encourage more candidates to stay in the field.