Demand for flexible legal resourcing has risen sharply during the pandemic. The Peerpoint team reflects on the drivers behind this rise and explain why 2022 is a great time for lawyers to explore legal consulting as a career option.
What Impact Has The Pandemic Had On Lawyers’ Attitudes To Legal Consulting?
Initially, the pandemic resulted in a slowdown in the flexible resourcing market. However, it has been buoyant again, particularly over the last 10 months. One reason is that many more lawyers switched to consulting over this period as part of a trend that some economists are dubbing “the great resignation”. Millions of people are now using the unprecedented disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate what they want from life and assess how their careers can make those goals happen.
“A lot of people are rethinking their careers and looking for the variety, control and new learning opportunities that legal consulting brings,” says Marie Kirby, Head of Talent at Peerpoint. “In-house lawyers, for example, can sometimes hit a career ceiling and see fewer options to progress, so legal consulting offers different challenges and opportunities in new environments. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and this change can give their career the boost it needs.”
In terms of client demand, Peerpoint has seen a very sharp rise in clients seeking out resourcing solutions as in-house legal teams experience budget constraints and resourcing challenges. “There is a clear talent shortage for permanent hires, which is where the flexible and short-term solutions that Peerpoint and similar providers offer is key,” says Helen Libson, Global Engagement Manager.
Are These Trends Consistent Globally, Across Markets?
For the most part, yes. In Asia, for example, Peerpoint is also seeing a marked rise in lawyers turning to consultancy. “However, this is being driven less by a need to re-evaluate life priorities and more by an increase in opportunities,” says Georgeanna Mok, Resourcing and Business Management Executive, Asia. “As economies here start to rebound from the pandemic, there is greater demand for the legal services that can help businesses facilitate growth.”
Demand has been compounded by a talent shortage. In corporate hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, for example, the pandemic saw an acceleration in senior lawyers taking early retirement. At the same time, many expatriate lawyers who had built careers in Asia moved back to their home markets to avoid the travel restrictions on when they could reunite with family.
“These shifts, coupled with the organizational restructuring, layoffs and hiring freezes also associated with the pandemic have left a significant gap in the mid-to-senior level legal talent pool,” explains Felicity Warren, Senior Client Development Manager, Asia. “That’s proving a real challenge for the global organizations now looking to increase headcount in their Asia offices as economies start to open up again across the region.”
Peerpoint is seeing organizations, especially in the financial services sector, scrambling to fill open positions. “Some firms are also aggressively competing for legal talent by offering much higher-than-average salaries,” Warren says.
Peerpoint is seeing organizations, especially in the financial services sector, scrambling to fill open positions.
“All this is resulting in many more corporate legal departments turning to flexible legal resourcing to fill their talent gaps with top-quality interim and project-based support. At the same time there’s been a rise in permanent job offers for consultants after they finish their contracts, indicating that this is very much a talent-driven market right now.”
Looking Ahead, How Might This Play Out Over 2022? What Are You Expecting To See Over The Next Six Months, At Least?
The demand for interim legal resources will likely keep rising as businesses adapt to the shifting post-pandemic market. Employers seeking to fill talent gaps are eager to avoid delays caused by traditional recruitment processes, especially in firms already impacted by pandemic-related cost pressures and headcount freezes.
“In the U.S., deal teams remain busy,” says Amie Davidson, Head of Peerpoint U.S. “As a result, we are seeing sustained demand from clients for transactional lawyers, particularly at the mid associate level. For a lawyer considering whether to make the move from private practice to an in-house role, short term assignments can be a great way to gain in-house experience at a variety of organizations before committing to a permanent position. “It’s also likely that the pandemic and its economic consequences will continue to present some organizations with additional challenges, as out-of-the-ordinary matters such as disposals, insolvencies and disputes arise. Such issues require specific legal skill sets that may not exist within current teams.”
“In Asia, Peerpoint is also seeing especial demand for short-term personnel in the burgeoning technology space. Consultants with the skill sets and interest to work in this area are particularly hot commodities right now,” says Donna Titley, Talent Development Manager, APAC. “But across the board, there is an ever-increasing range of options available for lawyers seeking to leave the traditional law firm or in-house legal environment and embrace the ability to chart their own career course, while still having the support and resources of a global law firm.”
What Are The Key Things Lawyers And Consultants Should Bear In Mind As We Head Into 2022?
Despite the ongoing uncertainties associated with the pandemic, as demand continues to increase and flexible resourcing becomes more fully established in the mainstream, this is an especially good time for lawyers to consider legal consulting as a career option.
That might include legal consulting for a period, then moving back into a permanent role or taking time-off to pursue other interests before coming back to consulting again. “We have so many great opportunities right now that offer more flexibility in how and where people work,” says Kirby.
Azara Digan, Peerpoint’s UAE Business Manager, adds: “Another consideration for many lawyers is specialism. Some potential consultants perceive their experience is too specialized or too generalized for consultancy. In the Middle East we see a real melting pot of people from all sorts of international backgrounds which means there are some really unique opportunities. Don’t count yourself out because you think your experience won’t fit consulting. Nine times out of ten after a conversation with our team, we find that there are more options for you than you initially realized.”
Making this shift might seem daunting but, as the team also points out, Peerpoint isn’t just about sourcing roles. “We offer tailored coaching and support so lawyers can succeed as legal consultants. Having access to A&O and its resources and networks also differentiates us in the market by connecting consultants to a top law firm without necessarily needing to work for one,” says Libson.
Kirby puts it this way: “We actively help people move through career stages or change direction in the flow of work. It’s really all about building careers and supporting consultants to be the best they can be.”
What Other Opportunities Has The Pandemic Brought About For Legal Consultants?
Around the world, lockdowns forced organizations to speed up a switch to digital ways of working. Firms everywhere beefed up their remote working and virtual conferencing capabilities and, as a result, there is now considerably more scope for legal consultants to work remotely for foreign clients.
“Some roles are entirely remote – if clients can’t source the right talent in their local market, they’re often open-minded about someone doing the role from another location. Ultimately, they want the best people,” says Kirby.
In Asia, Peerpoint is seeing an unprecedented number of opportunities for consultants to work on projects for jurisdictions they are not based in. “For example, we’re currently partnering with a consultant who has an option to work for a bank in the UK, a fintech in the UK and a fund in Dubai, all without leaving her Hong Kong base,” Warren reports. “For lawyers looking to gain international experience, pandemic-related travel restrictions need not act as an insuperable barrier.”
Find Out More
To learn more about Peerpoint and how it might benefit you, please visit our website or contact a member of the team:
- Georgeanna Mok in Asia
- Azara Digan in the UAE
- Nikki Pantges in Australia
- Louise Catton in the UK
- Amie Davidson in the U.S.
You can also take a look at our latest job opportunities here.
Disclaimer: All views are personal and do not reflect that of the organization. The views shared are not intended for any legal advice and are for general information and education purposes only.
By Helen Libson, Marie Kirby, Georgeanna Mok Azara Digan, Felicity Warren, Amie Davidson, Donna Titley
firstname.lastname@example.orgHelen is the Global Engagement Manager for Peerpoint where she drives engagement for the business, both on the client and consultant side, with a focus on comms, content creation and PR. She is also co-author of The Future for Legal Talent: A major study into how lawyers view their careers in a new world. The report was born out of Peerpoint’s global survey of over 1000 lawyers and law students. She has a background in branding strategy and HR.
email@example.comGeorgeanna manages the resourcing of Peerpoint’s consultant panels in Hong Kong and Singapore. Georgeanna comes from a legal and recruitment background, having first completed her legal studies in Hong Kong. She transitioned into talent acquisition and recruitment, wanting to support others in their career journeys. Her focus has been resourcing lawyers for blue-chip clients across different sectors in Singapore and Hong Kong and Greater China.
firstname.lastname@example.orgFelicity is the Senior Client Development Manager for Peerpoint in Asia. She supports our clients’ legal resourcing needs by carefully matching them with high quality consultant lawyers. Felicity places a high value on the importance of deep relationships and a continual curiosity about people and the markets. Before joining Peerpoint in 2018, she already had 10 years of experience in sales and marketing roles within professional services firms across the UK and Asia.
email@example.comDonna is responsible for the career management and development of the Asia Pacific Peerpoint consultant panel. She works closely with self-directed lawyers to support their transition into consulting and successfully develop a consulting career. Donna has worked in learning and development in Asia Pacific for more than 15 years as a consultant, facilitator and coach.
firstname.lastname@example.orgMarie is Head of Talent for Peerpoint and is responsible for Peerpoint’s UK resourcing and consultant management teams. Marie comes from a strong background in strategic talent management and acquisition with both agency and in-house experience. Throughout her career, Marie has resourced for many blue-chip clients across different sectors including the legal sector and in the interim and permanent market.
email@example.comAs Peerpoint’s UAE Business Manager Azara oversees the UAE business which was launched in 2021. She has 13 years’ experience within talent acquisition. Having spent close to 10 years within legal recruitment in the UK and the Middle East, most recently Azara worked for Bank of New York Mellon where she was a lead recruiter supporting the legal division as well as many other front office businesses across APAC.
Amie joined Peerpoint in 2020 to launch and now lead the U.S. business. She has a wealth of legal industry experience, having spent 16 years in marketing, business development and client account management roles within global law firms and Big 4 accounting firms, including more than a decade with Allen & Overy in New York and London.
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* This article was first published in the Feb 2022 issue of the IHC Magazine. You can read/download the magazine here.