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LEGAL MARKET COMMENTARY, Q4 2018

• Article by BRUIN Financial

LEGAL MARKET COMMENTARY, Q4 2018

MARKET OVERVIEW

At the beginning of 2018 the market was primarily driven by the recently implemented GDPR legislation, and extensive regulatory reform that has been introduced across a multitude of sectors, resulting in significant demand for legal expertise both across the UK and overseas.

As we approached the end of 2018, financial services as a whole was presented some unexpected challenges as a result of the market uncertainty. Most notably this included an increase in demand for UK Tax Lawyers at the Senior Level. We have also seen an increase in hiring across Capital Markets, with particular demand for Derivatives and Funds Lawyers/Paralegals.

With the uncertainty of Brexit still very much on the horizon, we have also seen significant growth in Funds focused roles, including requirements of Foreign Qualified and Dual Qualified Lawyers who have the necessary European language skills, and are adaptable to the wider European markets.

Countries that have seen a surge in the re-allocation of Lawyers within Europe are: Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland. Notably, these are also the locations where there has been a huge interest in legal technology in the areas of management of work-flows; discovery and disclosure; and corporate and Tax Law and Company Secretary work.

 

ROLE PROFILES

Dual Qualified Lawyers:

Dual Qualified Lawyers are very much in demand, and in particular US Lawyers and French Lawyers who can work the international market.  Skill sets most commonly requested by clients have been structured finance, capital markets, and derivatives, funds (UCITS, AIFMDS and SICAVs). Skill sets required also tended to be varied, as opposed to just a specialism in one area. Many clients have requested European language skills, with French, Spanish and German in particular demand, and typically roles have been at the mid level of around 3-8 Years PQE.

Funds Lawyers:

Funds Lawyers have been in demand on the transactional side at all levels. Interestingly organisations are considering applicants at a more junior level in the form of Paralegals with relevant Funds exposure for roles that require over 3 years in-house specific Funds experience.

Similarly,  for Fund Officer roles where the role is dual by nature, and often incorporate both Company Secretary skill sets and Paralegal or Legal document experience, considering more junior candidates broadens the candidate pool significantly; especially as demand has largely been in Luxembourg, which is a competitive market for experienced candidates.

Company Secretaries:

A number of organisations have discovered the benefits of hiring Senior PQE lawyers to transition into Company Secretary roles. This then enables Company Secretaries to carry out the more strategic work, by incorporating Legal Practice into the M&A or Private Equity aspect of the role, and therefore combines corporate acquisitions with the organisation’s corporate governance needs.

Tax Lawyers:

We have seen a huge increase in the demand for Tax Lawyers with varied expertise including Corporate Tax, EIB, Transactional Private Equity and Tax Disputes. This market is extremely candidate short and organisations have had to provide competitive salaries beyond their usual bandings to attract the calibre of lawyer they are seeking. Typically hires have been at Senior Associate, Lawyer and Legal Director level.

 

PREDICTIONS

In the coming few months, it is expected that crucial inbound regulations and changes, namely SMR, GDPR and Brexit will continue to demand focus within Legal Compliance and Dual Qualified roles.

In addition to this market transformation, we will see a huge demand in International Qualified lawyers who are adaptable to working various jurisdictions and can utilise language skill sets across Europe in particular.