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Content TypeCareer Advice
Below we have summarised three top articles for February 2021: KPMG UK appoints first female leaders in 150 years KPMG has appointed female leaders for the first time in it’s 150 year history. Bin Mehta has been appointed stand-in Chairman whilst Mary O’Connor has been promoted to acting Senior Partner. The appointments come in the wake of insensitive comments by Bill Michael that has put the firm’s culture under scrutiny. LVMH signs champagne deal with rap star Jay-Z Jay Z rarely misses. Whilst Champagne sales have fallen dramatically in 2020, Armand de Brignac sold over 500,000 bottles in 2019. With economies slowly opening up this is a high profile and obvious move for the LMGH group’s Moet Hennessy. Jay Z has sold 50% of his business at a price that is currently undisclosed. LVMH reported revenues of €44.7bn in 2020 and is home to 75 luxury houses across 6 different industries and this deal fits seamlessly into their growing portfolio which includes the likes of Louis Vuitton, Givenchy in fashion and Moet Hennessy in wine and champagne. This is unlikely to be the only major deal that Jay Z is party to this year with Oatly, another business he holds a stake in reportedly targeting a $10bn IPO later this year. I love working from home… but Will working from home become the new normal? That is still unclear. However, YouGov have produced some astounding findings on what people really think about life working from home. Initially it seemed that the mirage of indefinitely working from home had become a reality yet, as the pandemic has continued to effect how we work, more and more we are finding this oasis to be a gruelling one. 30% of respondents reported an increase in their working hours since working from home and a whopping 53% feel as though the have to be on call at all times for their bosses. Working from home has certainly come with some strings attached and it will be interesting to see how businesses develop their own ‘return to the office’ strategies and what employees will actually want. The report also covers perceived effects on mental and physical health, general happiness and productivity.
We recently asked our community two questions via a quick poll on our website: When do you think employees will return to the office? Do you think we will ever return to the office full time? We are pleased to report that 1,573 respondents took the time to give us their opinion, thank you for your contribution! Here are the results: We must caveat the above results by stating that we ran this poll the back end of last year, before the second strain and third lockdown came upon us. Our circumstances are changing rapidly, however when we originally asked this question, most people thought that we would return to the office sometime in Q2 (45%). Regardless of when we will return to an office environment, most respondents believe that flexible working is here to stay, with 'a large percentage continuing to work from home due to a reduction in office space to save costs'. Another respondent echoes the above by commenting: Now that people have proven that they can work just as effectively and collaboratively while being remote, I think most people and businesses will adopt far more flexible work patterns where appropriate. This means that cost savings can be realised through cutting down on office space, while also giving employees a better work life balance. " You can read a related article we published called, ‘Rethinking workspaces – how will your company adapt to the new normal?’.However there were challenging arguments to the above train of thought, with one participant stating, 'Though it was a good experience to do smart working, for creation and idea development, working together is a more conducive environment'. In addition, some respondents flagged that the road to recovery will not be so clear cut, commenting, 'Due to the disruption, recovery is likely to be asymmetric and non-linear across industries and geographies', while another drew attention to some of the challenges, saying 'most organisations haven't yet implemented the correct H&S approach in terms of safely bringing people back to the office'. The dominant answer to this question, at 43%, was ‘No, we won’t return full time’. The main reasons participants voted this was the substantial savings that businesses have made when they cut the office rents and related facilities from their overheads, as well as the benefits of not having to face the daily commute.However, with 38% of respondents voting for ‘Yes, we will return full time’, and a substantial number of people saying they are not sure, there isn’t a clear cut winning answer to this question. Interestingly, there were far more arguments in favour of the return to the office environment in the qualitative data, for example, one comment said, 'It's more efficient to work at the office, it allows for a better balanced work life, and people are naturally attracted to working with people'. Other comments echoed this sentiment for instance, ‘People miss the social aspect of the office environment, they miss their colleagues’, ‘An office environment is more conducive for collaboration and innovation’, ‘collective work is more focused and purposeful. This makes gathering in one space natural’, and ‘there are mental health implications from working full time in isolation’. One participant drew attention to the loss of office culture that we all experience when we work remotely, and pointed out that New and/or young employees need the office environment in order to network and learn a company’s culture and the way things are done. " While we all acknowledge that we are overly dependent on virtual meetings at the moment, one commented on the drawbacks of virtual meetings, saying, ‘Body language and personal interaction are a core component of work and interpersonal relationships, which you cannot get remotely'. Similar to the sentiments in the first question, many participants believe that the answer isn’t ‘a’ or ‘b’, the answer is one of flexibility and a ‘blended’ approach. (You can read a blog we published pre-Covid on this topic called, ‘Is flexible working a win win?’, which examines the practical challenges of ongoing flexible working, and some legal obligations for employers).It’s clear that people are keen to get back to normal at least some of the time - the office is normal, with one professional citing all the ‘normal’ things we are missing, such as ‘Connecting with people. Sharing a conversation without having to dial in. Going for a coffee break. Travelling. Having a proper desk. Sharing a smile!’.
It was a quiet start to the year in 2020 for in-house legal recruitment as law firms were offering cheaper fees with secondment opportunities competitive to the cost of hiring. This choice was favoured throughout the year, leaving recruitment quiet. Although we expect this model to change because of the hidden costs of instructing external solicitors. With the impacts of the virus arriving in Q2 the market froze, with a wake up call in the later part of Q3 and Q4 where we saw a hiring pick up in fintech and payments. This was down to start-ups receiving funding, where investors saw a "safety net" in place internally taking the form of a legal, risk, or compliance professional. This unfortunately did not turn into direct hires for legal professionals still leaving them to the wrath of external firms (as mentioned above), and an abundance of time wasting recruitment processes prevalent in the uncertain market of 2020. Looking Forward to 2021 We are not out of the woods with the pandemic (by any stretch) and we will still be feeling the strain of future uncertainty when making decisions on technical and expensive hires. Although most businesses are comfortable with offering positions under newfound working from home capabilities; in a lot of cases, businesses haven’t been making hires where there has been company demand (due to uncertainty). This has manifested as a strain on the successful growth of businesses and we are hoping this will be rectified through 2021. Brexit on the other hand has had a positive impact on the in-house legal market, as businesses have been putting their contingency plans in place (establishing themselves geographically within the EU). We have seen great opportunities for in-house counsel and this could continue through 2021. The potential growth and change of regulation that Brexit will bring could see an emergence of Brexit specialist lawyers, much like the GDPR in 2016. In 2021 we expect the backlog of roles, put on hold during Coronavirus, to rear its head. " This demand should grow over the coming months, and below we look at how this might manifest by industry sub sector and position: Financial Services - Like the market itself, benchmarking salaries and predicting areas of hiring is very tough to do. The following is based on regular candidate and client conversations and explores the main areas of practice applicable within a few core sub-sectors of the in-house legal and the financial services market.General Counsel, Fintech & Payments - the position of general counsel became exceedingly popular in 2010 and has continued to rise in popularity throughout subsequent years. Changes in regulations and business management styles have led to companies hiring in-house lawyers at very early stages of company growth. This is particularly true in the payment and fintech market, where we have seen notable growth over the past few years, where cost saving proves to be a choice when looking to hire in-house legal counsel at early stages rather than outsourcing legal work. With this in mind, it’s important to note that key commercial attributes are required for general counsels in the start-up and scale-up markets, another key skill is risk management. I predict this area to pick up in the coming months.Company Secretary, Financial Administration and Outsourcing businesses - the typical in-house company secretarial appointments have been in decline over the past few years, with fewer limited companies choosing to make this instruction and more businesses offering excellent ‘outsourced’ co-sec services. With this in mind, I’d predict that the businesses we predict continued growth for company secretarial positions in financial administration companies.Legal Counsel, General Commercial (low-mid PQE) - hiring at this level is often a favourite for heads of legal and general counsels across all of the in-house FS market. Taking the view that candidates who’ve had a great technical grounding at a top 10 firm will be able to directly transfer their skills to the commercially minded in-house teams. Though this strategy often works, it certainly has its pitfalls. Q1 2021 will see a push on hiring from private practice as technical skills become more desirable. Though the real battle starts when marking sure the incoming candidates have the commercial acumen needed to succeed in-house. Brexit Lawyers (Global) – as mentioned above, the impact of Brexit on the in-house legal FS market can certainly be seen as a positive, especially as more businesses start expanding their teams to include specialist lawyers within separate legal jurisdictions. We expect to see this impact take several years to fully establish around what the requirements will be. With this in mind, cross-border counsel and dual-qualified lawyers could be in higher demand through the year.Final wordsPositively, it’s going to be a good H1 for in-house lawyers, certainly in comparison to all of last year. In a nutshell, the pending market growth will be down to an uptake of confidence about hiring amidst the pandemic, meaning the recruitment market will be able to pick up on the roles put on pause through 2020. In light of a hopefully improved market, where will we be focusing our attention?In Q1&2 will be focusing on senior positions in the start-up/scale-up markets and the consumer-focused fintech market. We will also be focusing on low to mid-level PQE commercial lawyers looking to step out of the practice environment. Armed with this knowledge, we will continue to be reactive to the market as we proactively provide our recruitment and search services to our clients and candidates, and offer career advice to anyone looking to move roles or expand on their teams - find out more on our legal team here.