The Winds of March: What We’re Hearing from In-House Attorneys so Far in 2024


I spent the first two months of the year talking to as many in-house legal leaders as I could so that I could understand their outlook for the remainder of 2024. After 30+ conversations, some definite themes emerged. Here are five:

  1. General Restlessness and Curiosity about the Legal Market - The appetite for movement is apparent. Anecdotally at least, the degree of willingness to explore a change seems higher than at this point in 2023. After a year where many organizations kept static or reduced legal department headcount, several of the attorneys I spoke with recently wonder if the workload + compensation + opportunity equation might be better elsewhere. Judging from the ubiquitousness of this sentiment, the likelihood seems low! Still though, the comments and questions in this regard strike me as befitting a “normal” legal market and general curiosity—and not reflective of a desperation to move from their current role at this point.
  2. Organizational Realities & Strategic Movement - Nothing I’ve heard in the first few months of 2024 leads me to believe that the general pace of hiring has changed significantly from late 2023. Including interim placements and ‘permanent’ attorneys, Major, Lindsey & Africa placed over 800 people within corporate legal departments in 2023. Opportunity is not difficult to find. Yet my observation in working with law department leaders on many of these searches is that the opportunities are more strategic and targeted than in recent years. Underlying business performance varies across companies, but legal departments are once again trying to ‘do more with less’ or at least demonstrate that they’re willing to let a need become glaring before doing anything about it.
  3. Eagerness to Capitalize on Displaced Talent - Many law department leaders are taking advantage of the sudden availability of talented attorneys and paralegals by leaning into the use of interim positions. In setting up interim assignments, in-house hiring managers value flexibility in the ability to put parameters around the engagement to keep expectations in line. In some instances, these ‘interim’ arrangements are marketed as temporary engagements with the possibility of ‘going permanent’ down the road. When hiring realities change, the overall fit is assessed or the ongoing need can be validated. In other cases, GCs find it best to treat the engagement as a true interim assignment, sometimes even setting it up as a part time or ad hoc support. In leveraging interim talent, GCs often pull from their outside counsel budget so that legal work gets done without added headcount.
  4. Companies Picking Their RTO Philosophy & Sticking to It - The conversation around RTO has, mercifully, died down a bit. Most companies appear to have settled on their approach and are moving forward. Many larger companies and some very small ones appear to be comfortable continuing in a largely remote or flexible arrangement, whereas several mid-size companies we talked to are now in a controlled hybrid or full RTO “five days in” situation. Talent hasn’t quite caught up to management and five days in positions are still harder to recruit for but easier with every passing month as COVID gets further in the rear-view mirror. GC and CLO candidates express a willingness to travel and “hyper-commute,” but the idea of full relocation isn’t particularly popular. For interim positions, GCs are more willing to allow legal professionals to work remotely.
  5. Re-evaluating Build vs. Buy and Bracing for AI Disruption - Several leaders we spoke with are using departures on their staff to undertake assessments of their programs in various areas: eDiscovery, L&E and IP are a few that most prominently come to mind. With so much discussion around large language models (AI) and speculation about the next wave of disruptive technology, many in the in-house community appear to be bracing for impact. GCs are wondering (out loud) what they can do to make their teams more efficient in the AI realm. And even if it is just a tad bit premature to answer that question with certainty, the next best thing is to stay nimble and prepared to act. Toward that end, many leaders are embracing the flexibility of interim solutions and doing their homework now so that they’re ready to act boldly when the time comes.


There is currently no related content for this person
No More Results