From the Bar to the Business World: Crossing sectors as a qualified lawyer

November 29, 2018 12:59 pm Published by TeamRH

Louise d’AMECOURT

Businesses need legal expertise

Most recruitment consultancies will agree: commercial legal departments are seeking the best talent to strengthen their teams. And the ideal candidate is a qualified lawyer. This trend is explained by the growing need for businesses to reinforce their departments, and cultivate their own talent. In light of this, businesses are increasingly calling on recruitment consultancies. Lawyers, for their part, are also more aware and open to job offers as in-house lawyers.

Lawyers are responding to demand

In fact, switching to a business environment offers a convenient solution to lawyers who wish to leave the profession. Those who are not able, or not willing, to progress to the level of partner, or even to continue in their current roles, turn increasingly towards businesses to practise in an advisory capacity. This reorientation, smoother than switching between firms, and perhaps more comfortable, offers lawyers a work-life balance, and the opportunity to continue exercising their intellectual skills. For lawyers seeking new challenges, then, careers in legal departments are an alternative career path. For women in particular, it seems to be an attractive route. In 2014, for example, women made up 24.5% of partners in law firms, but 46% of Legal Directors (1).

Why are lawyers making the switch?

The figures demonstrate a growing trend, with 30% of lawyers quitting the profession after ten years, according to a February 2017 report entitled The Future of the Legal Profession. Individual accounts point to many factors influencing lawyers who make the leap: stress, a lack of recognition, an imbalance between time invested and financial gain in their current roles, and the competitive atmosphere resulting from the number of lawyers in the market. Subsequently, many prefer to take a pay cut in exchange for less stress and a greater work-life balance.

A different way of life

If the daily atmosphere of life in a business differs to that of a law firm, so does the lawyer’s function. In a firm, they will work for several clients, in a business, only one: their employer. This may be a source of stress to the lawyer, since the focus on performance and profit is more intense. However, if the in-house lawyer seems to have more responsibilities than the average lawyer, it is worth remembering that they have distinct advantages offered by the company: a working contract, and a work-life balance.

Switching from a law firm to the business world: it is a change in lifestyle, as well as professional direction, but the in-house lawyer can always return to their original career in a law firm. According to the 2014 study Day One, out of the 1749 recruitments of legal partners in corporate law firms since 2005, 7% of partners had a ‘non-lawyer’ background: (businesses, politics, academia, consultancy), only half of which (52%) coming from a business background.

That being said, the journey from lawyer to legal director can prove difficult, since they remain two different sectors. A career in a law firm may be more tailored to the individual practitioner than that within a company, where the atmosphere is more collaborative.

Recruitment consultancies to the rescue

In facilitating the transition from the autonomous, often solitary working environment in a law firm to the collective, interactive style of companies, many of the latter call upon recruitment consultancies with special expertise in the sector. In fact, locating the right lawyer and assisting their move to an established company has become the role of recruitment specialists in possession of the relevant qualifications to determine the best profiles. With highly specialised methods, taking into account candidate’s psychology as much as their interpersonal skills, these headhunting firms fully assure the success of your next recruitment.

 

  • Source : Cartographie des directions juridiques en 2014