Law departments seeking out new talent are prioritizing a few characteristics to build up their expertise and best leverage their attorneys' skill levels. Here's what the experts say law departments are looking for in a new hire.
The Association of Corporate Counsel's 2017 survey of chief legal officers revealed that the issues that keep them up at night are ethics and compliance, so it makes sense that 41 percent of law departments created new compliance positions from 2016 to 2017 — up from 18 percent in each of the two years previously.
Public Company Experience
At public companies, stakes are high, and lawyers will get a foot in the door if they have a background in securities filings, issues related to markets and equities, public company rules and regulations, and board requirements. Public company experience is critical, challenging and specific, and it's rare to find it in lawyers, so there's a huge emphasis on recruiting hires that have it, according to recruiter Michael Sachs.
"If candidates who are at law firms or are currently in-house have that experience, there's very little doubt they're going to be in demand for years to come," he said. "If they don't have that experience, they may still have a terrific in-house career, but there are going to be certain companies that just aren't in a position to want to hire them."
Modern Managerial Skills
That's not to stay that law departments aren't still looking for GC-level talent, of course. GC searches have been up since the beginning of 2017, according to Sachs.
"It could be that the general counsel of top companies are looking at the stock market, which has been pretty bullish, and seeing that they can retire now and have that financial security," Sachs said. "More retirements than ever before is a development we've seen at the top levels."