Many law firms and corporate legal departments are taking a cautious approach to adding staff, and are basing hiring decisions on the need to manage costs and improve efficiencies, according to a new report.
“To retain existing clients and grow revenue, law firms are focusing on improving service levels and seeking associates with experience in high-demand practice areas, such as litigation and bankruptcy,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Our research also shows that corporate legal departments are bringing more work in-house and hiring staff who possess specialized skills in an effort to control spending on outside counsel.”
According to the 2010 Salary Guide from staffing service firm Robert Half Legal, the following are in-demand practice areas and positions for the upcoming year:
- Litigation – A surge in litigation is generating work for experienced attorneys who can represent corporate clients in areas such as insurance defense and commercial litigation, among others.
- Regulatory and compliance – The global financial crisis is expected to result in greater government regulation, increasing demand for attorneys with regulatory backgrounds.
- Energy/environmental law – As “green” initiatives make gains, attorneys with expertise in these areas will remain marketable, according to Robert Half Legal.
- Bankruptcy/foreclosure – The economic downturn has heightened the need for lawyers with experience handling complex bankruptcy and foreclosure matters, including restructuring and litigation.
- Healthcare – The healthcare sector is expected to remain active, due in part to new reform legislation, generating demand for attorneys and paralegals with biotechnology and pharmaceutical expertise.
- Corporate transactional – As legal departments reduce their spending on outside counsel, there is an increased need for attorneys and paralegals with transactional, litigation and regulatory law experience.