Clients have increased legal demand but in-house hiring is easing

by Steve Randall07 Nov 2019

Clients have increased legal demand but in-house hiring is easing
In-house legal teams are under increasing pressures to keep a lid on costs while addressing growing demand for legal services.

A new survey focusing on global legal function management across 15 industries reveals that 88% of respondents expect their legal needs to increase in the next year.

But just 37% reported increased hiring of legal staff, down from 52% a year ago.

The HRB Consulting Law Department Survey also discovered that law departments are focusing on maximizing internal resources through reengineering or standardizing processes; and redistributing work to more appropriate resources.

“Over the past few years, corporate law departments have focused heavily on investing in their in-house legal staff to build integral internal capabilities and reduce outside counsel spend. They are now shifting their focus from new hiring to maximizing their existing staff through process improvements and technology investment,” said Lauren Chung, managing director at HBR. “At the same time, they continue to refine their use of external resources to address the growing legal demand.”

Investment in technology (by 6% over the next year) and contract/temporary staff (11%) are among the legal spend increases expected by respondents.

Outside counsel spend is still rising but 85% of respondents say they have taken steps to reduce it in the past year. Keeping more work in-house, alternative fee arrangements, and competitive bidding are the main strategies used.

Experienced corporate lawyer joins Squire Patton Boggs in Sydney
Ashley Rose is joining the Sydney office of Squire Patton Boggs as a partner in the global corporate practice.

Rose is an experienced lawyer specialising in public and private M&A and equity capital markets. His resume includes Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Gilbert + Tobin together with in-house roles at JP Morgan, British Telecom and Colgate Palmolive.

“Sydney is the business capital of Australia and so additional expertise and capability is essential in order to meet our clients’ growing needs, particularly in the public company space,” said Campbell Davidson, Australian managing partner. “This approach echoes our global strategy to invest in key financial centres.”

Gowling WLG loses practice head to Simmons & Simmons
Simmons & Simmons has hired banking specialist Kirsty Barnes from Gowling WLG,

The London-based partner was Gowling’s head of banking & finance in the UK and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial markets sector.

Working closely with the international firm’s banking group head in the UK Simon Manning, Barnes’ arrival follows the recent appointments of James Taylor, Jens Golz and Michaela Sopp who joined teams in London, Frankfurt and Munich earlier this year, boosting the firm’s international banking and finance offering.