2013 was a very good year business-wise for Wisnik and I am very grateful! Looking back at the 129 jobs we worked on this year, there are definitely some trends that have emerged in the marketplace over the past three years. The good news is that law firms are hiring again; as many of you remember, hiring came to a halt in 2009 and 2010. For the third year in a row, we have received over 100 new positions from law firms across the country. The vast majority of new jobs are in the Marketing area, with the greatest emphasis on Business Development jobs. This year alone, we worked on 50 BD manager roles! The sad news is that where once we had dozens of Legal Recruiting and Professional Development roles each year, now we are only seeing a handful of these job—13 Recruiting and 8 PD jobs in 2013.
What does the emphasis on BD jobs, and the lack of new Recruiting and PD roles, say about the large law firm marketplace? Basically, law firms are very focused and willing to invest in positions that will help the firm to compete for the limited legal work that exists. However, because they are not adding significant numbers of new attorneys, there is little need to add talent on the recruiting and PD side. The other trend we are seeing in hiring is that firms are VERY reluctant to pay salaries over $200K. This is why we are seeing fewer Director-level roles and, even when replacing a position, there is a tendency to pay less than was previously paid, if at all possible.
There is definitely growth in the legal services market, with a strong emphasis on roles that will help firms to grow their business. The other “new reality,” that I hear daily from those working in law firm management roles, is that the amount of work and pressure to deliver results, while keeping costs down, is at an all time high. I truly believe that law firms remain great places to work because they are filled with smart and professional people who respect talent; but when looking at the hiring trends of the past three years, I see the next few years as continuing to focus on hiring BD experts, being very cost conscious, and demanding significant returns on investment from their talent.