Highlights from Heads of Recruiting/PD Snapshot Survey

We are excited to share the results of our most recent Recruiting & PD Industry Snapshot Survey with you! These results are based on our October 2015 survey sent to Heads of Recruiting & PD at top law firms, 90% of which were AmLaw 100. We were especially interested in capturing the current state of the industry and structure of departments (i.e. separate or joint departments), size of department vs. firm size, and where firms are investing in additional talent.

Looking at the overall market, most Firms surveyed reported increasing or maintaining the size of their Recruiting/PD Departments; however, firms in the 750-1000 attorney range show a Big Law market undergoing massive flux.  For example, 42% of Firms in this size range said they increased the size of their recruitment & PD team members, while 25% of departments saw a decrease in the number of professionals in these departments. From what we are seeing in the marketplace, some Firms in this size range are thriving, and others are struggling.  These dichotomous survey results, as reported by heads of recruiting & PD departments, vividly reflect the uneven state of the current market.

Additional survey findings we wanted to share with you include:

  • Firms of 1-500 attorneys tend to combine Recruiting and PD functions into one department. However, firms with more than 500 attorneys usually have two separate departments, one that focuses on recruiting and another that focuses on PD.
  • Despite market fluctuations, these professionals’ tenures at their current firm are substantial – the average tenure for the 65 Chiefs and Directors is over 10 years!  This number is almost double what we saw this summer when we surveyed Law Firm CMOs and Directors.
  • The ratio of Recruiting/PD professionals to attorneys is approximately 1 to 40.
  • Close to 40% of respondents reported refilling positions in the past year!  This is the first time in more than 5 years that we are seeing significant job movement in the market, including firms searching to fill more recruitment manager positions.
  • As for newly created positions, the most roles have been added in PD; according to the survey, 12% of Firms have added new PD roles. This is reflected in what we have been seeing in the “live market” of available positions.
  • Interestingly, Firms of all sizes are projecting similar Summer Associate class sizes for 2016 as they had in 2015.  For example, Firms with 750-1000 attorneys had an average of 77.7 summer associates in 2015 and will have an average of 78.4 summer associates in 2015. From this we conclude that the market is quite solid for Firms that are doing well.

Overall, the recruiting & PD functions in law firms are growing and busy hiring legal talent. But there are firms that are struggling and reducing the size of their departments.  We can only hope that the growth and hiring we are seeing continues in 2016.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and let’s be grateful for all the good we DO have in our lives!

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