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In-house legal jobs – UK market overview with Harry Shepherd

In-house legal jobs – UK market overview with Harry Shepherd

Switching our attention to the legal sector and the latest market insight for UK in-house lawyers, we caught up with our expert and Associate Director, Harry Shepherd.

“The market has definitely picked up, businesses are recovering and optimism is higher as we enter the final quarter of 2021. Jobseekers are naturally exercising more caution following the traumatic events of the past 18 months but there are plenty of opportunities out there as organisations reactivate their hiring plans. The nature of the market means that candidates can actually now be more selective. The challenge for organisations but also for us as recruiters is being proactive in finding the right candidate.

“There are more permanent and fixed term contract roles given the pent up demand as we’re starting to come out of the pandemic and returning to a modicum of normality. In terms of roles, there is strong demand for commercial lawyers with experience of contracts, IP, data protection and GDPR as well as corporate M&A and joint venture experience. Organisations in pharma, financial services, renewable energy, charities, tech, FMCG, retail and public sector organisations (education) are all hiring, so it’s across a broad spectrum. 

“UK businesses typically look for lawyers who have trained in England and Wales, so used to working and providing legal advice governed by this jurisdiction and who have qualified with a recognised law firm. Previous industry experience is important, especially if the industry is heavily regulated such as pharma or finance. It does however depend on the hiring manager and sector. General counsels are often expected to assume responsibility for other functions, such as corporate governance while advising on areas like sustainability. At all levels, you’ve also got to be digital savvy!

“In terms of soft skills, in-house lawyers will be expected to be strategic thinkers with excellent business partnering skills, being adept at building relationships with different areas of the enterprise. This is an aspect of the role that they would enjoy, getting to know and understanding how different business units operate. The other key quality is resilience as in-house lawyers often have to deal with business critical scenarios.

Securing the best in-house legal talent

“To attract the best people, you have to be proactive when hiring. Simply posting a job ad online won’t generate the amount of quality applications you need as the market is very competitive at the moment. So you need to actively source candidates and bring your opportunities to them – don’t expect them to come to you! Using CV databases and the tools and techniques that LinkedIn provides can vastly improve the chances of success. It’s important also that the hiring manager posts the job. In-house lawyers expect flexible working, so a focus on work-life balance and wellbeing will be well received.

“You also want to be as transparent as you can during the recruitment process. Because of the nature and importance of the lawyer’s role, getting someone in place does take time. Just be sure to keep the candidate informed at every stage so that they know there will be x number of interviews and these are the people they will be meeting and the reasons why. Lawyers are meticulous and will appreciated this attention to detail – otherwise, they will get frustrated.  

“I would urge candidates to gather as much information as they can, whether they’re using a specialist recruitment agency or applying directly. Ask as many questions about the role from the outset, show that you are inquisitive. One thing that annoys hiring managers is if you bombard them with questions at the job offer stage – this will make you appear uncommitted. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to so that you can also make sure that this is the job for you.”

To find out more and discuss your in-house legal hiring requirements in London and the regions, you can reach Harry at or call 07944271472.

Learn more about the UK in-house legal jobs we recruit for 

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