Almost half of employers expect legal skills shortage

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Research from Robert Walters has found that almost half of employers expect to face a shortage of legal professionals in the second half of 2016.

Changing legal and compliance frameworks have created strong demand for legal professionals to support companies with transitional projects to ensure they are in line with regulations. 22% of employers also believe that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is likely to lead to further changes in legislation.

“Legislation, particularly impacting the financial services sector, drove demand for legal professionals last year and into 2016,” said Sam Walters, Associate Director at Robert Walters.

Legal professionals in demand

Despite economic uncertainty as a consequence of the EU referendum, demand for legal professionals with expertise, particularly within the financial services sector, has remained strong.

“As the UK establishes new legal frameworks to replace areas previously governed by EU legislation, demand for legal professionals who can support financial services firms in adapting is likely to remain high,” continued Walters.

“This demand is likely to apply to professionals specialising in restructuring and employment law in particular.”

Mid-level professionals most highly sought after

Despite economic uncertainty as a consequence of the EU referendum, demand for legal professionals with expertise, particularly within the financial services sector, has remained strong.

Almost 80% of employers are planning to focus on hiring legal professionals at the mid-level. This desire to recruit mid-level legal professionals is motivated by the need to secure staff who have the experience and technical skills to oversee projects helping their clients to adapt to legislative change.

“Professionals at the mid-level are still in short supply owing to the low numbers of lawyers that qualified during 2008-2012, post the recession,” said Walters.

“As a result employers need to be more flexible and offer training platforms to more junior lawyers coming through so that they can re-skill into areas that will become more demanding – such as restructuring and competition law.” 

Firms need to be savvy and constantly review utilisation in other teams, so that areas that become more demanding are adequately serviced.

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