Let’s get real. Our search firm’s 10 most recent client requests break down as follows: four securities attorneys, two intellectual property attorneys with mechanical engineering backgrounds, one corporate generalist, one employment law attorney, one patent litigator, and an attorney for an industry specific compliance position.
Do you see a theme? Nine of those 10 search orders were subject-matter specific. In another year defined by the oversupply of highly pedigreed generalists, the action, at least for us, came when law departments asked for help filling niche roles.
One easy prediction for 2012 is that the role of GC will continue to grow in terms of influence and overall importance at major companies. New regulations continue to flow out of Washington, navigating legal mine fields overseas is essential and going over budget is no longer an option. The job is harder, but compensation at the top is excellent. The economic gap between the GC and the rest of his or her department will continue to widen. So, it makes sense that the job description at the top would be quite different from the hole-plugging needs arising within the rest of the law department pyramid.
My hiring advice for employers in 2012 is completely selfish, but also logical. The supply of law firm specialists has been cut dramatically over the past three years. Inside counsel are holding firm in their current jobs, so relevant lateral talent is in short supply as well. Add that up and then don’t be surprised when you are enormously frustrated by a self-sourcing approach based primarily on Internet postings. Ante up and use a good recruiter when your need is subject matter specific.