Desire for in-house roles to shape NZ recruitment market

by Ben Abbott12 Jan 2015
A ‘huge appetite’ for moving from private practice to in-house roles may end up putting upward pressure on private practice salaries in 2015.
Ben Traynor, a senior consultant at Niche Recruitment, says in-house roles are the top picks for lawyers who have reached mid-senior level.
“There is a huge appetite within the market to move from private practice to in-house roles,” Traynor told NZ Lawyer.
“Candidates are willing to wait for suitable in-house positions to become available rather than move to another firm,” he said.
The trend is evidence that in-house team growth has not yet abated.
“Last year we saw steady growth in the in-house market and I would expect that to continue in 2015,” Traynor said.
“The larger corporates are now seeing the value in having larger in-house legal teams rather than briefing the work out to firms. They can now attract very talented and experienced lawyers to their teams and along with the value they can add to the business, they are also more cost-effective compared to the annual fees paid to law firms.”
This will continue to put increased pressure on private practice firms, with many having difficulty recruiting at the mid-senior level.
“For employers it will be another challenging year with limited top talent available, particularly in private practice,” Traynor said.
Further draining the local talent pool, New Zealand-qualified lawyers are continuing to take advantage of international opportunities.
“We are definitely short of 3 - 5 year PQE lawyers in New Zealand and our clients are constantly looking for this PQE level across all practice areas,” Traynor said. “The level of lawyers travelling overseas for their O.E. has considerably increased over the last couple of years with good opportunities available both in Asia and the UK for NZ-qualified lawyers at this level.”
Overall, it is likely to be a relatively steady year compared with 2014 for legal recruitment, due to a stable and growing local economy.
“All in all I think we're in pretty good shape in New Zealand and that should be reflected in the legal recruitment market.”
Traynor expects ‘good opportunities’ to become available for property lawyers, litigators and corporate & commercial lawyers, both private practice and in-house.
Lawyers may even see private practice salaries increase this year.
“I expect salaries to remain similar to salary levels in 2014 however private practice may well have to start offering increasingly competitive salaries in order to attract the top talent at the mid-senior level,” he said.