When the Covid-19 pandemic erupted in the legal industry last year, many professionals felt blessed to retain their jobs even with the challenges of working remotely and coping with additional challenges like childcare, home schooling and health risks. These combined stresses prompted the “Great Resignation” (also known as the “Big Quit”). As a result, high resignation rates led to record levels of job openings in the US, Europe, China, and Australia in the fall of 2021.
The Great Resignation
The legal industry, like all industries, is struggling to navigate a reset of worker expectations, of all levels, who bore much of the brunt of the past two years. A supposed mass exodus of legal professionals from their current roles is predicted to happen in the coming months as professionals seek to take a break. Being in a period when there are more vacancies than jobseekers, it could be the ideal time to consider changing jobs. Lawyers who want to reboot their careers can capitalize this trend. They will be given greater freedom of opportunity, and the ability to chase both better financial and personal situations, with employers compelled to offer competitive packages and broader benefits and flexibility.
Opportunities in legal markets
Vietnam was the world’s fifth fastest-growing economy in 2020. Despite the pandemic, the country has proven resilient, and the implementation of the free trade agreement helps Vietnam foster trades and investments. Allen & Overy and Duane Morris have made a few significant partner hires this year, along with recent Dentons’ arrival, sending a strong signal of interest and intent to bolster their business there. As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Vietnam should be a priority market for international law firms’ clients. The rise of the economy and the arrival and expansion of international law firms could signal the right moment for lawyers to find exciting opportunities.
Singapore’s legal market is gaining steam as a thriving arbitration and energy & infrastructure centre in Asia as it builds on past efforts of maintaining social stability sees the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021 so far we witnessed a few significant partner-level hires and relocations to Singapore. In addition, Korean giant Bae, Kim & Lee, Shanghai-based firm AllBright, and Indian tier-1 law firms Khaitan & Co and Cyril Armachand Mangaldas ramped up their presences in the Lion City. As there have been more firms building up in Singapore, there are growing number of opportunities in the disputes, M&A, and energy areas.
Due to the current political/social environment and tight Covid-19 restrictions, there is an expat and local talent exodus in Hong Kong fueling the local senior-level job market. In reply to the talent outflows, employers are busy filling the gaps. In addition, recruitment agencies are struggling to persuade expats to relocate. So, companies can now acquire or keep the talent that Hong Kong has. Higher salaries and the promise of quicker promotions are hoped to halt the talent exodus in Hong Kong. This could be the golden moment for any high-calibre legal professionals to take the next step and work with their ideal employers.
2022 looks to be a year of talent acquisition war as law firms and in-house legal departments pivot from pandemical survival to long-term growth. The practice areas lacking available mid- to senior-level talent are capital markets, employment, energy & infrastructure, intellectual property, M&A, litigation/arbitration, and real estate. We also expect the in-house legal departments to grow in the financial services, healthcare, and technology sectors. These teams need professionals with experience in compliance, corporate transactions, e-commerce, data protection/privacy, and regulatory.
Once in a career window
Now could be an opportunity for a career reboot. Building up a relationship with an experienced specialist legal recruiter before you start looking for an opportunity can help give you a competitive advantage. They can help you find the position with the right culture and fit for your individual requirements and preferences.