The Legal Landscape: What Companies Need to Know About Legal Executive Search

Legal executive search is a specialized type of recruitment that requires a different level of expertise. When you are looking for a Chief Legal Officer, VP of Legal Affairs, or a partner in a private practice, it is important to select an executive search firm that understands how to approach candidates with a high level of professionalism and confidentiality.

Trends and Challenges in Legal Recruitment 

Legal talent acquisition
has changed over the past few years. For example, while in-house legal talent reports high levels of job satisfaction, 61% of firms say there has been a higher attrition rate than in past years according to a Deloitte survey. 

Attracting and retaining high calibre talent is increasingly difficult and it’s likely to get even more challenging. 88% of senior leaders say they expect their future employment prospects to go beyond their current employers. 

That’s both good and bad news.

The good news is that there may be more talent available to make a move. However, you may face more competition as others scramble to fill leadership roles in law.

Strategic Approaches to Legal Executive Search 

Executive recruitment strategies
need to adapt to this environment to find the right fit. That requires a fair amount of conversation with your executive recruiting firm to develop a detailed profile with the specific skills that are essential. For instance, a Chief Legal Officer for a media organization would need to have deep experience with intellectual property. 

Top search firms invest in technology to help surface candidates, but finding executive legal talent requires sensitivity in approaching candidates. When you are evaluating an executive search firm, it helps to work with a group that has the right network of legal contacts to find candidates and to get honest assessments.

The Quebec Legal Market: A Unique Perspective 

Quebec legal market is fairly tight from a talent pool standpoint. Law firms are facing significant challenges in recruiting at the executive level. 

More often, organizations are hiring entry-level lawyers. However, there are challenges there as well. The legal profession has always been demanding, with younger associates working long hours to advance and, hopefully, attain a senior or partnership-level position. Today’s lawyers are placing a significantly higher level of importance on work-life balance than in the past. This means you can’t count on always growing your own talent.

There’s a general shortage of legal talent throughout Canada and the Quebec legal market also has another unique aspect. Lawyers need to speak French and English.

Case Studies in Successful Legal Executive Recruitment 

A good example of a case study is a recent one we did for a partner in labor law. This required a broad outreach to identify candidates with the right expertise and skill level. 

This legal talent acquisition required an extensive search for potential candidates with different law firms to find a seasoned partner. There was also an emphasis on finding someone that aligned with the existing organizational culture.

Cultural fit is often overlooked, but it can be a key difference-maker in a successful executive hire. Depending on what organizations need, you may need an executive that fits into your culture, adds to your culture, or drives cultural change. Working with an executive search firm, it will be important to define your needs carefully to help narrow the search to the right candidates.

In this case, we found a pool of qualified individuals who met the firm’s very specific requirements, leading to a successful hire.

Future Directions in Legal Executive Search 

Adapting to legal market changes
and legal industry trends will be part of the job. This is especially important with the emergency of new technology and software. For example, understanding how and when to leverage automation and artificial intelligence to augment staff will be crucial to improving efficiency and velocity. 

The right candidate will be able to navigate technology and play a leadership role in law practices and firms to guide the appropriate use of technology within ethical guidelines.

Best Practices in Legal Talent Acquisition 

Best practices for
legal talent acquisition should follow a series of steps, including:

  • Partnering with an executive search firm to define the requirements, cultural fit, and leadership qualities you need.
  • Leveraging the executive search firm’s network of legal talent and candidate sourcing to find a diverse talent pool.
  • Maintaining professionalism and confidentiality to protect candidate’s privacy and your organization.
  • Thoroughly evaluating the candidate’s qualifications and fit.

While you will want to do your due diligence to ensure a candidate, high-quality talent that is considering a move will likely have multiple options. So, you need to be prepared when you find the right person. You should have a well-structured compensation package in place. Your executive search firm can help you benchmark current legal industry trends in your area to help you put together an attractive package.

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQs

What are the current trends in
legal executive search?

Current trends in legal search include higher attrition rates, increased competition for top talent, and a greater emphasis on work-life balance among lawyers.  There are also several practice areas that are in extremely high demand, including labor and employment, cybersecurity, commercial litigation, and intellectual property.

How does the Quebec legal market differ from other regions?

Lawyers in Quebec require proficiency in both French and English. The market for legal talent here is tight. Executive searches may require sourcing talent outside the province or even internationally.

What strategies are effective in recruiting top legal executives?

Effective strategies for recruiting top legal executives include partnering closely with an experienced legal search firm that has a strong network like PIXCELL that upholds the highest levels of professionalism and confidentiality.

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PIXCELL Supports L’Étoile de Pacho with La Soirée Cassiopée

François Piché-Roy, President and Managing Partner of PIXCELL – Leaders Recruiting Leaders, will be the Honorary Chair of the second La Soirée Cassiopée. Proceeds from the fundraising event go to L’Étoile de Pacho, an organization dedicated to supporting the parents of children with severe disabilities.