The Great Recession of 2008 hit banks and mortgage lenders very hard, while many other industries were able to bounce back within a few months. But due to the COVID-19 outbreak global markets are now faced with a larger, more relentless economic threat that will impact nearly all sectors- including the legal profession. Once the smoke clears, the legal landscape will have been forever reshaped as concepts like distance learning and remote work become routine. Legal hiring practices will also look different, including the role of recruiters.
Declining World Markets & the Legal Industry
Unemployment figures in the US recently spiked amidst fears that COVID-19’s economic impact upon world markets will be hard-hitting and long term. The airline, automotive and hospitality industries are already laying off workers, including corporate counselors. As this global “belt-tightening” continues many private law firms are going to be faced with fewer clients and smaller budgets. As the smoke finally clears and a “post-COVID” world emerges, it will be filled with a new breed of cautious consumers.
Elite legal expertise will be in high demand, but consumers, not lawyers, will call the shots. As the legal job market downturn persists for months or even years, countless legal careers will be lost, and scores of others never get started. Even legal summer internship programs will be scarce as employers do more with less.
Effects on Law Firms & In-House Counsel
The larger the law firm and market, the greater the impact will likely be. Here’s what law firms can expect while competing in a post COVID-19 world:
- Competition for talent and clients will be fierce.
- Specialization will be essential.
- Online talent platforms will be invaluable.
- Collaboration between law firms, in-house corporate counsel departments and alternative legal service providers (LSPs) will be critical.
In-house corporate counsel departments will also be forced to implement new policies like:
- Outsourcing more responsibilities to LSPs.
- Bi-passing traditional C-suite priorities to conduct business.
- Foregoing designations like “law firm” or “in-house counsel” to form new collaborative partnerships in response to consumer demand.
Remote Work & Distance Learning
This “brave new world” for legal professionals will be spearheaded by digital concepts like virtual reality, remote work and distance learning. Allowing employees to work from home is nothing new outside the legal profession, as the number of remote workers has increased by over 40% in just 5 years- most notably in sectors like customer service, healthcare and information technology (IT).
As stay-at-home and social distancing policies continue, distance learning, or “e-learning”, will also have to be embraced by those in the legal marketplace in order to survive. Courtrooms, offices and other places where litigation gets done will have to switch to these digital-based methodologies in order to conduct business.
These Legal Sectors Will Prosper
Every dark cloud has a silver lining, and COVID-19 is no exception. As some companies fail and others tread water those in certain market niches will thrive, creating a demand for attorneys who specialize in areas like:
- Employment law
- Healthcare and insurance coverage law
- Bankruptcy law
- Project finance law
- FDA law
- Antitrust law
Continued government bailouts will create employment opportunities for lawyers at the federal, state and local levels- notably in smaller markets. And, Washington, DC, will be the most secure place to practice for attorneys in the US.
How Can Legal Recruiters Prepare?
Legal recruiting firms will also face new challenges, although the talent pool should be even larger than ever before. But competition will also be fierce and specialization essential as the number of potential clients with job openings dwindles.
Here are some of the concepts that legal headhunters need to embrace:
- Using online video platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts to conduct screening interviews and prepare candidates for “meeting with” potential employers.
- Updating their websites so that they are accessibility compliant for all visitors.
- Developing an effective online reputation management strategy.
- Projecting a more powerful image on hiring platforms like LinkedIn.
- Positioning themselves as the “go-to” recruiting authority within specific legal niches.
We Help Legal Recruiters Anticipate & Adapt to Change
The COVID-19 pandemic is going to forever reshape the legal landscape. As a legal staffing agency, anticipating and adapting to change is going to be essential to ensure your survival. At the Legal Recruiter Directory, we provide digital marketing insight and resources that are designed to help legal recruiters and law firms weather the storm through good markets and bad.
As market forces fluctuate, the LRD remains diligent in its pursuit of helping legal headhunters connect talented active or passive attorney candidates with prestigious corporations and law firms so that all parties win. Learn more about the Legal Recruiter Directory today.