Updates and advice for attorneys and law departments.

Survey Shows Corporate Law Hiring Up and Expense Cuts Are Down

The hiring outlook is bright for attorneys seeking positions in corporate legal departments.  According to new survey results from the ALM Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey, corporate law departments are hiring – at the highest rates since the 2008-2009 recession.

The survey, performed by ALM Legal Intelligence, analyzed information from 70 in-house legal departments within companies whose median global revenues reached $3.3 billion.  Among other things, the study found that:

  • 59 percent of departments that responded to the survey had hired new attorneys in 2013 – an increase of 8 percent over 2012,
  • Only 21 percent of respondents were planning budget cuts for the coming year – a decrease of 7 percent over the previous year.

These numbers indicate a steady increase in growth and hiring among corporate legal departments from 2010 until today.  Analysts state that the numbers reaffirm previous tentative interpretations: corporate legal departments are growing well out of the recession, and they are hiring more attorneys as a result.  While the specific skills and experience needed in these jobs depends on the needs of each specific legal department, attorneys seeking to develop or expand upon their experience as in-house counsel will find increasing opportunities to do so.

The study also found that the percentage of corporate legal departments relying on alternate fee arrangements to compensate outside law firms has also continued to grow, but at a relatively low rate.  In 2013, 82 percent of U.S. corporations used some form of alternative fee arrangement with outside counsel, an increase from 79 percent in 2011 and 72 percent in 2010.  Just over half of corporate legal departments (58 percent), however, still use AFAs in very limited situations – for these firms, such arrangements account for 20 percent or less of their total spending on outside counsel.

According to ALM analysts, the numbers on alternative fee arrangements suggest that corporate legal departments are just beginning to consider the value of alternative fee arrangements.  They predict that as in-house counsel gain experience in creating and using such arrangements, their use of AFAs will increase as well.

At Assigned Counsel, our experienced staffing partners can help you find the corporate legal department position that best fits your skills, experience, and career goals.  Contact us today.

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