'Pull out all the stops' to retain talent, GCs told

GCs should make team morale a priority to see off businesses looking to poach talent and to help navigate through ‘economic choppy waters’, latest analysis on the current state of the in-house market suggests.

A report by Major, Lindsey & Africa, a legal search firm, says GC hiring activity climbed to historic levels in the last 18 months. ‘As 2022 reached an end, we saw signs of hiring returning to a pre-pandemic pace.

‘That said, when we examine all the factors that came together to create this tremendous surge in demand for GCs – Covid, increased regulatory complexities, increased focus on ESG priorities, focus on DEI, geopolitical issues and macroeconomic uncertainty – they are all still very much “alive” and will continue to fuel the demand for strong leaders.’

With businesses worried about the impact of recession, GCs will need to focus on meeting their employers’ legal needs while monitoring outside legal spend. However, the report suggests they should also keep an eye on their team’s needs and concerns.

Lawyers with five to 10 years’ experience are likely to be in huge demand, the report says. ‘Pull out all the stops to hold on to the members of the workforce in their 30s and early 40s – those individuals are highly sought after.’

GCs are also advised to check the temperature of their team and satisfaction levels with internal clients. 

Naveen Tuli

‘Look at gaps in the team, evaluating team members who have flexibility to expand the scope of their roles and take on additional responsibility, and assess the relationship with outside counsel. What is getting sent to outside counsel? Are there strengths within the internal team to keep some of that work in-house? The increase in outside counsel fees is already top of mind for existing GCs, so if work can be brought in-house or interim talent employed, the cost savings will serve the GC well. It will also help keep the members of the legal team challenged and engaged.’

The report focuses on global in-house conditions. Asked about the UK, Naveen Tuli, managing partner of the in-house counsel group at Major, Lindsey & Africa, told the Gazette that the primary challenge for GCs will be how best to structure their role to tackle the ever-changing geopolitical risks their companies face.

Tension between the need for legal departments to do more with less and the need to demonstrate their value will see strategic hiring focused on ‘more seasoned lawyers with the experience to lead businesses through choppy economic waters, rather than more junior lawyers who are more focused on contract work which is increasingly being outsourced or even replaced by AI’, he added.


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