What’s hot in the in-house legal market todayBY SARAH ELLIS-GOLDSMITH
In the legal industry here in Singapore, employers all around are feeling the effects of a talent scarcity. Whether it is junior lawyers or middle to senior level lawyers, the market is facing a tightening pool of talent.
In light of the talent crunch present in the legal industry, how can one capitalise upon this to further his/her career What roles and skills are most in demand today’s market? Read on to find what type of experience will help you take your career to the next level.
For Junior Professionals
If you are a junior lawyer, the good news is there is a large demand for junior professionals across all industries.
Regardless of whether it is a private practice or in-house counsel role, employers are always keen on hiring junior level candidates. This means that you would need to be a lawyer with post-qualification experience of around two to four years.
In this category, employers have a preference for Singaporean bar qualified lawyers, but we are also seeing a demand for common law qualified lawyers from the UK, Australia and HK. The preference for local talent is attributed to familiarity and experience with local legislation, and should commercial disputes arise Singapore lawyers are able to deal with this effectively.
For junior lawyers in law firms who are interested in making a move in-house, MNCs often prefer junior candidates with litigation experience and/or commercial experience.
Corporate litigation experience is useful as lawyers typically develop a deep understanding of their clients and various corporate legal risks when investigating complex disputes. As such, junior lawyers who have experience in dispute resolution make good drafters as they can identify potential legal risks which is a key skill for in-house counsels.
Commercial lawyers on the other hand, have the advantage of becoming skilled in contracts negotiation and execution, again skills favoured by MNCs.
Middle to Senior Professionals: Contract Management and Negotiation
If you are a mid to senior level lawyer, there is strong demand for contract management, which involves the negotiation, drafting and execution of commercial and licensing agreements. The demand for these skills is apparent across a variety of industries such as IT, telecommunications, and oil & gas where there is a growing need to manage large and complex contracts.
There is a shortage of legally trained professionals in this area and MNCs welcome professionals who have a legal background coupled with 360 degree experience in managing contract life cycles.
This cycle begins with presales, advising the business on legal and commercial risks associated with bids to post contract care by advising delivery teams of their contractual obligations.
Contract management is a highly sought-after skill in today’s market, and candidates who are experienced in both legal drafting and being able to work seamlessly with sales teams to drive best results, will continue to have good career prospects.
Today’s in-house market faces a continued shortage of qualified junior to senior professionals; the benefits for candidates with requisite skill sets, Singapore qualified and having strong commercial experience, is there is a diversity of career opportunities available across a variety of industries.
For lawyers not coming from a commercial background, the good news is there are still a number of other opportunities in this market both in private practice and in-house that touch on other legal skill sets such as capital markets, M&A, asset finance, IP, data protection, and regulatory related work.
For junior candidates with 2 – 4 years experience, being legally qualified and having a good work ethic still offers various career paths, as companies are open to providing training and mentoring in areas of legal they may not have experienced previously.