As I sat in a plush west end hotel finishing the last remnants of a pot of green tea an interesting topic arose with the general counsel I was meeting; is the buy side all it’s cracked up to be? I work with GC’s from many sectors but am most ubiquitously in contact with those in the Hedge Fund, Private Equity, Asset Management, Family Office and Sovereign Wealth space. The contact I met had worked exceptionally hard over the last year and as a senior lawyer in house the assumption is typically that those types of days should disappear as you move from your 20s/30s into your 40s and beyond up the food chain, with the bulk of the transactional work remaining with your junior counterpart(s). It led me to unfamiliar conversational territory, why a lawyer might want to avoid working for a fund completely.
As a newly qualified lawyer in London at a top city or US firm the amount you are earning is significantly higher than it would have been only a few short years ago. The US firm’s entry into the London market and their willingness to offer pay parity with New York coupled with the frankly terrible GBP to USD exchange rate in recent years has led to bumper pay days for those associates at the top US firms and started a war for top talent.
The magic circle, keen not to be left out decided this year that they were tired of losing some of the best of the Oxbridge crop to US firms over money and decided to close the gap, starting lawyers on £100,000 or more as soon as they qualify. When Bingham McCutchen first broke through the £100K barrier for NQs in around 2012/13 they were trailblazers, how was it economically viable for them?! many laughed at the prospect of junior lawyers being paid so handsomely. Things didn’t turn out so well for Bingham but no one is laughing anymore as the pay packet is now the standard for associates at top tier firms.
No matter whether you are remain or leave the vast majority of lawyers benefit from a growing, strong economy with plentiful opportunities. What is actually happening in the legal market and can largely be attributed to the Brexit phenomenon is tough to decipher through mixed jobs data and scaremongering headlines.
In 2016 when the referendum result was announced there were predictions that this would be a disaster for the economy at large but a boon time for lawyers who would be busy drafting and arguing about legislative changes, neither prediction was quite accurate (at least not yet). There are lawyers employed and finding work in house and within private practice helping particular businesses address the potential impact of Brexit, but these roles have in reality been far fewer in number than roles created to address GDPR or MiFID2.
How do you extract the most value from an executive search partner?
The cost of a retained search service adds up; typically coming in at 1/3 of hired candidates total first year compensation paid over three instalments. Given this fact it is essential hiring managers maximise their search providers utility to deliver the hire they want at the appropriate time and on budget.
Having worked in both the recruitment and executive search space over the past 14 years for leading providers I understand the challenges clients face in getting the best ROI. Outlined below is an insider’s view on some of the best proactive actions for you to take and common mistakes to be avoided to maximise value from the search service.
General Counsel and business leaders alike universally have a view on what makes a good lawyer, however many struggle to find the right one for their company when the need arises.
The main mistake businesses make when looking to fill a vacancy can be encapsulated in the apples and oranges approach; “we never use recruiters, we advertise all open roles ourselves”. Leaving aside the veracity of the statement it neatly illustrates the misconception that a one-size fits all approach to hiring works, it doesn’t. What works for hiring IT professionals probably won’t work for lawyers, yes, they are both metaphorical fruit but no they are not the same.