This year’s annual Legalweek conference, which took place in New York, attracted hundreds of industry-leading specialists, attorneys, and operational legal professionals. With discussions centered on the top legal trends, caveats, and bright spots at the intersection of technology and regulation/law, it was great to be back in person again, to share ideas, and push the needle forward to champion and proliferate innovative technology within the industry.
Jake Knowlton-Parry, Director at Larson Maddox, shares his five key takeaways from Legalweek and overarching themes set to impact the regulatory and legal space.
Technological transformations: siloed and outdated practices overruled
“As Technology is a big focus at Legalweek, it was exciting to hear about the opportunities technology has to solve problems, enhance processes, and help businesses capitalize on new areas in the regulatory and legal market,” comments Jake Knowlton-Parry.
The law certainly is no exception to technology – if previously digital tools might have been seen as a threat to law practices, now many have opened their arms and configured technology into their business models. Whilst the business case for technology in regulatory and legal is water-tight, a key point at the event alluded to the importance of the human experience. Regardless of how technology makes waves in the regulatory and legal space, clients will always want to speak to a professional and have that personal touch behind digital processes, thus Jake Knowlton-Parry advises to, “work out a way to work with technology instead of against it.”
Emerging locations & markets
From Greenville, Nashville, Denver, Austin, to Salt Lake City, these are some of the major cities/areas identified as hotbeds for law firm start-ups and, more generally, because of the increase in regulatory and legal activity. One emerging destination that sparked interest at the conference was Raleigh in North Carolina, which has a huge life sciences legal presence, with a lot of venture capital money being pumped into the city. Interestingly, Boise in Idaho emerged as an up-and-coming market, and Miami was also mentioned, perhaps a reflection of the region looking to attract tech giants to build out their offices as they try to emulate the success of Austin, which could result in a lot of law firms following suit.
Compensation is the kingmaker in a candidate-driven market
It’s no doubt that law practices, both In-House and Private Practice find themselves in a candidate-driven market. Due to buoyant activity in the regulatory and legal space, having a competitive offering in terms of animble technology infrastructure, benefits package, and flexibility model is crucial. At Larson Maddox, every active high-quality candidate that we work with currently has at least 3-4 competing offers on the table. As a result, law firms have increased their pay scale 3x since January 2022, and once one practice amplifies its scale, this has a rippling effect throughout the market which then makes its way into the In-House market as well. We’re having daily conversations with our clients on how to overcome these challenges and make the right offer to secure top-tier talent. Compensation packages have been directly impacted and we have observed many law firms raise compensation on multiple occasions from 2021 to 2022.
What’s more, alongside lucrative compensation benefits, many law firms have been offering sign-on bonuses. We have seen organizations offer anywhere between$50k-$100k sign-on bonuses,resulting in a bidding war between businesses to secure business-critical talent.
We’re advising candidates that are thinking about jumping ship to not miss out on this wave of opportunity because it’s impossible to know how long this will last. Whilst compensation is swelling across many regulatory and legal verticals, this could drop tomorrow, and we strongly recommend that candidates should take this opportunity and get fairly paid their worth. Jake Knowlton-Parry suggests: “Whilst talent should window shop and jump on this bandwagon, don’t forget to be strategic.” It’s not all about the monetary rewards – candidates should consider the firm culture, operational structure, equity offering, and work closely with us to make sure it’s the right opportunity. Don’t be blinded by the money and make sure to do your due diligence on the all-around package.
A look at the top sectors and hot skillsets
Litigation, privacy, real estate, and the funds space have witnessed strong activity within regulatory and legal. Across financial services, particularly insurance, PE firms, and banking, there have been a lot of moves within corporate M&A, securities, PE/funds, and crypto. In the life sciences industry, securities, IP, and transactional jobs are hot areas. Additionally, with the rise in technology, legal operations continue to pop up with activity flowing throughout this vertical; a trend we haven’t previously witnessed with this much importance in the market but one that is worth noting. Within tech, media, and entertainment (TME), specifically retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and tech, the hottest areas are commercial, tech transactions, and marketing.
Looking into the granular details, the desired skillsets in the market currently are corporate transactional (M&A, lending, PE/VC) or private fund attorneys. Experience with employment, derivates, and registered funds is also highly desirable. ESG compliance is on the climb, perhaps indicative of the firms that are monitoring their claims of ESG funds and how they will comply with the SEC’s new audit proposal for climate impact to be part of a company’s reporting requirements. From an ED&I standpoint, this continues to be top of mind for business leaders and talent acquisition specialists as data on pay gaps and representation is often at the forefront of mission statements and a corporate ethos. It’s promising to see the rise of Chief Diversity Officers within law firms and In-House, with many having a seat at the c-suite table, influencing company culture, hiring practices, and ED&I processes.
Flexibility for the future
“For us as talent specialists, the biggest change in the industry is flexibility. We’re no longer restricted to searching in only one location,” states Jake Knowlton-Parry.
As the world continues to evolve, regulatory and legal organizations can remain on a front footing by harnessing technology and striving for a flexible mandate. After all, workplace flexibility has given organizations complete access to a sparse talent pool that’s not constrained to one location. Today, businesses can hire the best and brightest from across the US. For the rest of 2022 and beyond, the team at Larson Maddox expects this trend to continue, with competition between firms intensifying between who can offer the best home working set-up and the most lucrative benefits – an offering that was never even part of the discussion pre-pandemic.
The Larson Maddox team specializes in the regulatory and legal market, securing senior-level positions across specialist industry verticals including: financial services, life sciences, tech, media & entertainment, and private practice.
With a presence across New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, we can help businesses solve their regulatory and legal challenges. As a thought-leader in this space, we are having daily discussions with our clients on the emerging markets and talent trends, so they can secure the best talent and stay ahead of any regulatory and legal issues.