Corporate Law, Litigation to Yield Greatest Legal Job Prospects in First Half of 2014; Nearly One-Quarter of Lawyers Plan to Hire

TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - What's on the docket for the legal profession in the months ahead? Hiring seems to be on the minds of many, a new survey from Robert Half Legal indicates. Twenty-two per cent of lawyers interviewed said their law firm or company plans to expand or add new positions in the next six months. Six in ten (60 per cent) said their organisations expect to maintain current staff levels by filling vacant posts, while 11 per cent of survey respondents said they will not fill vacant positions or create new ones and one per cent anticipate staff reductions.

General business/corporate law and litigation are expected to drive much of the hiring, the research shows. More than one-third (37 per cent) of lawyers surveyed expect business-related law to generate the greatest number of legal job opportunities from January through June of 2014, followed by litigation (19 per cent). Within the litigation practice area, commercial litigation was cited by 63 per cent of lawyers as the leading driver of job growth, followed by insurance defence (52 per cent) and class actions (38 per cent).

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing firm specialising in lawyers, law clerks and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 150 telephone interviews with lawyers in Canada: 75 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 75 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organisations.

Lawyers were asked, "Which one of the following practice areas, in your opinion, will offer the greatest number of job opportunities in the first six months of 2014?" Their responses:

General business/corporate law   37%
Litigation   19%
Real estate   8%
Ethics and corporate governance   6%
Labour and employment   2%
Intellectual property   1%
Restructuring/insolvency   1%
Privacy, data security, information law   1%
Regulatory/compliance    1%
Other   2%
None/don't know/no answer   22%
    100%

Lawyers who cited "litigation" as a response also were asked, "Which of the following areas of litigation, if any, will offer the greatest job opportunities in the first half of 2014?" Their responses:*

Commercial litigation   63%
Insurance defence   52%
Employment   44%
Class actions   38%
Securities and corporate governance   15%
Intellectual property   11%
Personal injury   1%
Personal/family law   1%
Other   1%
Don't know/no answer   4%

*Multiple responses were permitted.

(NOTE: An infographic depicting these survey results is available for download at http://legal.rhi.mediaroom.com/file.php/1507/RHL_1213_GRAPH_Job_Opportunities_2014_CAN.jpg.)

"As business conditions improve, managing partners and general counsel will be expanding their teams to meet related demand for legal services in the months ahead," said John Ohnjec, division director of Robert Half Legal in Ottawa. "With corporate and litigation-related activity continuing to grow, hiring specialised legal experts - from commercial litigation associates to insurance defence law clerks - will be a top priority for law firms as they focus on enhancing services to meet clients' needs and increase revenue."

Ohnjec added that corporations also have a steady need for corporate associates and law clerks to help them manage more legal matters internally. "The most marketable legal professionals have five-plus years' experience in a high-demand specialty, are tech-savvy and can make immediate contributions," said Ohnjec.

Employers who plan to expand their legal teams may want to reassess their recruiting and retention programs: More than half (53 per cent) of respondents cited at least some challenge in finding skilled legal talent, while one-quarter (25 per cent) of lawyers expressed concern about losing top performers to other legal job opportunities.

Ohnjec noted that retention is becoming a greater priority to legal organisations. "Not only are advanced skill sets and organisational knowledge difficult to replace, but the loss of a valued team member also has the potential to negatively service offerings and impact client relationships," said Ohnjec.

About Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half. The company provides law firms and corporate legal departments with highly skilled professionals, including lawyers, law clerks, and legal support personnel, on a project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal also offers managed review and e-discovery services. More information, including online job search services, can be found at www.roberthalflegal.com.

SOURCE: Robert Half Legal

For further information:

Contact: Kellie Shadle
kellie.shadle@roberthalf.com


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