Law firms and corporate legal departments are expanding core teams to meet the rising demand for legal services and support long-term growth. At the same time, talented legal professionals are seeing increased salaries and signing bonuses as firms and companies engaged in legal hiring compete for their skills.
As Robert Half Executive Director Jamy Sullivan noted in a recent Q&A, midlevel associates and paralegals with in-demand practice area experience are highly marketable.
Law firms are raising associate pay and reexamining bonus structures to attract and retain the best talent. Hiring is also brisk in corporate legal departments, which are expanding their core teams to manage more matters in-house. In particular, corporate counsel with business acumen and in-demand practice area experience, such as compliance, contract management, corporate transactions, labor and employment law, and mergers and acquisitions, will be highly sought after in the months ahead.
Some practice areas are growing faster than others. Here are a few of the hottest specializations in legal hiring, along with related roles.
Litigation roles in demand
Litigation attorneys are helping to represent insurance and healthcare providers and navigate labor and employment issues related to the pandemic. Commercial litigators also are in demand to help businesses and companies resolve disputes. Intellectual property law continues to grow as lawyers grapple with the challenges of defending or disputing IP rights in the digital era.
Litigation support/eDiscovery specialists are needed to support increased caseloads. According to Robert Half research, one of the hottest law jobs is litigation support/eDiscovery manager.
Access the latest Robert Half Salary Guide for the salary ranges candidates can expect in eDiscovery roles.
Commercial law and compliance
Corporate legal departments are adding more positions to support a surge in commercial transactions such as contract administration, financial reporting and procurement. Contract manager and contract administrator are among the hottest positions; they also are among the top positions most likely to remain remote long term.
What's good news for litigators in this highly complex and changing regulatory environment is also good for compliance specialists. Both law firms and legal departments are seeking compliance analysts, another role that is likely to stay remote.
Find projected starting salaries for contract managers, contract administrators and compliance analysts.
Mergers and acquisitions
2021 was a record year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and strong activity is expected to continue in 2022. As a result, lawyers who specialize in this area and are experienced with conducting deals remotely are in demand.
A diverse range of organizations will be hiring healthcare lawyers in 2022, from law firms, nonprofits and government agencies to pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment corporations.
Healthcare lawyers with experience in M&A will be sought as struggling providers look for new partners and resources to meet the pandemic-driven demand for services. New rules for providers, insurers and employers in areas such as the provision of at-home diagnostic tests and vaccine mandates are likely to be tested in the courts.
The housing market is expected to remain buoyant in the months ahead, driving demand for attorneys and legal support professionals with expertise in real estate law.
Curious about the average starting salary in your city for lease administrators and lease managers? The Salary Guide allows you to fine-tune listed salary ranges to your location.
Legal hiring in the year ahead
2022 is expected to be another intensely competitive year for legal hiring. In this kind of market, competitive compensation alone may not attract top candidates.
Many legal professionals who enjoyed working from home during the pandemic are looking to continue working remotely either some or all of the time. This year, the race to attract and retain skilled legal professionals may be won by the law firms and corporate legal departments that can offer the most flexible work arrangements and that get help with legal recruiting through a talent solutions firm.