An increasingly complex, time sensitive legal environment means more and more companies are recruiting in-house counsel to handle the majority of their legal work and only turning to outside counsel for specialized advice. Why?
Reduced Legal Fees
It just makes "cents". Companies spend large amounts of money on outside legal bills every year. As salaried, fixed cost employees, in-house counsel can mean significant savings on legal fees.
Today's business/legal environment is sophisticated, complex and deadly. Timely practice advice from company wise in-house counsel helps fast moving companies stay out of trouble and well ahead of the competition.
As an insider, the in-house lawyer knows the company's objectives and environment and can provide more customized and relevant advice.
Proactive vs. Reactive
Being internally located, in-house counsel are better able to anticipate and diffuse potential legal problems before they turn critical. Even when problems do explode, in-house counsel tends to be better positioned to deal with the matter quickly and effectively.
Maximizing External Legal Resources
Even with in-house counsel, a company may still need highly specialized outside legal services. The in-house lawyer is an excellent liaison between the company and the law firm. In-house counsel understands the legal issues facing the company, is able to provide more effective instructions, knows what to expect from the firm and can translate complex legal reports into readable information for management.
Cost Control and Audit
Most in-house lawyers will have an understanding of a law firm's billing practices. This means in-house counsel can ensure the outside law firm employs only the level of lawyer resources which are necessary, suitable for the job and fairly priced.
Why Top Lawyers Move In-house
Law school was grueling. Articles were little more than indentured servitude. Well paid lawyers with reputable law firms often find themselves asking "is this as good as it gets?"
Private practice is not for everyone. Even top lawyers complain that:
- they would like to be involved in more business issues;
- that they would like more client interaction;
- that they would prefer a more team oriented approach;
- that it would be nice to have more control over their work hours; and
- that they would not miss the constant law firm time billing and marketing pressures.
Practicing in-house is different. Typically, the hour requirements are more reasonable. Production targets are more flexible. The "client" consists of senior management and internal users. Client interaction is increased and much of the lawyer's day is spent in proactive "troubleshooting" through meeting or speaking with members of the company. The in-house lawyer is able to concentrate on the practice of the law itself and minimize many of the other distractions associated with private practice. For lawyers, practicing law on the inside can truly be the best of both worlds.
The Ideal Profile
The in-house lawyer will be called upon to assess many diverse, sophisticated and complex situations and to work closely and in a team fashion both with internal and external groups. For this reason, the desired profile of an in-house lawyer tends to include:
- a sophisticated generalist with a good business sense;
- experience in some area of specialization;
- good training in general commercial law; and
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Hiring mistakes are costly. The trend toward in-house counsel means more companies are using legal recruitment specialists to find the right candidate.
Who They Are
Top legal recruiters are generally former practicing lawyers. Legal recruiters understand the demands of practice and appreciate firsthand what makes a lawyer good and what it takes to move such a person in-house. See BCGSearch.com for a good example of a top legal recruiting firm.
What They Do
Firms and corporations rely upon legal recruiters to help them identify and recruit qualified candidates for a specific position. In some cases, the position itself needs to be defined. As recruitment consultants, we are often requested to provide advice in defining the role the new counsel will take. This can be especially tricky where there is confusion as to what level of lawyer is required, how much they should be paid and to whom he or she will report to.
To find qualified candidates, recruiters tend to rely primarily upon three sources:
- proactively targeting (headhunting) specific lawyers;
- file search of the current candidate resume database; and
- advertising in popular legal publications, the internet and newspapers.
Companies hire a legal recruiter for a number of key reasons:
They Understand Your Culture
Legal recruiters take the time to know and understand their client's business and needs. They will know the personalities of the company and what the candidate wants to ensure a good fit between the two.
They Save You Time
By delegating this process to professionals, the general counsel or VP can concentrate on their own jobs.
They Present Quality Candidates
They do this by presenting the company with top candidates from which to choose. Companies literally receive thousands of resumes when they advertise positions. It is left to the company to then sort through the resumes for qualified candidates. The recruiter takes this job of sorting off the company's hands.
NOTE: IN-HOUSE JOBS ARE OFTEN SO IN DEMAND THAT COMPANIES DO NOT NEED RECRUITERS AND CAN GET A PLETHORA OF WORLD CLASS CANDIDATES SIMPLY BY POSTING JOBS ONLINE:
They Manage the Hiring Process
A sloppy process means a bad reputation, turned off candidates and a risky hire. Often, candidates apply to positions on their own and never received an acknowledgment. Legal recruiters frequently manage the whole process and can help ensure that the candidate does not fall between the cracks. The legal recruiter can provide the company with a quick turnaround so that general business is not interrupted.
They Target Top Candidates
Legal recruiters are essentially job brokers and can provide candidates with candid information and feedback about the job market and their marketability.
They Maintain Confidentiality
Candidates are usually concerned about confidentiality because of the smallness of legal communities. Legal recruiters maintain confidentiality in the job search by ensuring there is interest from a specific employer prior to giving the employer the candidate's name and background.
They Work on Contingency
Finally, it is usually a no risk/no cost exercise.
More and more companies are turning to the expertise of legal recruitment specialists such as BCG Attorney Search for their in-house counsel hiring needs.