In-house lawyer
12 November 2021 | Business, News

Slashed Budgets Put Junior Lawyers in Frame for General Counsel Posts

The legal profession fared reasonably well during the 2020/2021 pandemic, with a drop in the number of regulated firms dropping by around 2%, though commercial and corporate law was hit hard during the first lock-down as ongoing transactions failed to complete, and the number of new instructions fell.  However, as the companies that those firms represent also felt the pinch of constricting workload and income, those companies started to look at alternatives to hiring senior professionals employed at law firms.

With some companies cutting budgets for a variety of services, there could be a move bring legal services in-house. In-house teams are finding that their workload is increasing while time and budgets are not, and so junior lawyers are being recruited into General Counsel positions.

A move to an in-house position could seem an attractive proposition to many juniors.  Such a position brings day-to-day benefits, such as no longer having to manage time-sheets, regular work audits, and a feeling of being able to make direct and visible contributions to the company.

Organisations bringing junior lawyers onboard will no doubt choose to enhance the skills of their full-time lawyers; 14% of respondents to a DLA Piper survey expect the investment in in-house functions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given junior lawyers opportunity to become more visible.  Where previously they may not have been invited to meetings, lawyers were more likely to invite more colleagues to join on-line meetings.  There is the general belief that in-house legal functions have proven to be effective at adding value to their business during remote working.

Movement between in-house and private practice is becoming less of a career-blocking issue, so if a junior were to move to an in-house position with the intention of testing the waters, there would be no problem moving back to a private practice later.

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