8 in 10 Lawyers in Canada Say Tech Skills Outweigh Soft Skills When Hiring Legal Job Candidates

Cybersecurity and Data Analytics Cited as Top Tech Competencies for Lawyers 

Toronto, ON — Employers in the legal field are placing a premium on technical skills, new research indicates. More than 8 in 10 lawyers (82 per cent) in Canada surveyed by Robert Half Legal said that their hiring decisions are influenced more by job candidates’ technical abilities than their soft skills.  

More than half of survey respondents (56 per cent) cited cybersecurity as the top area of technology in which lawyers are expected to be competent. Data analytics ranked second, with 52 per cent of the survey response.    

Lawyers were asked, “When evaluating professionals for open legal positions, which carries more weight: the candidate’s technical skills or his or her soft or nontechnical skills?” Their responses: 

Much greater weight on technical skills 


Somewhat greater weight on technical skills 


An even split 


Somewhat greater weight on soft skills 


Much greater weight on soft skills 





Lawyers were also asked, “In which of the following areas of technology are lawyers expected to be competent at your law firm or company?” Their responses:* 



Data analytics 


Artificial intelligence 






Don’t know 


Not applicable 


    *Multiple responses were permitted. 

“With cybersecurity and data privacy at the forefront of many business issues, technical knowledge is essential for job candidates in the legal field,” said Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “To provide superior client service, lawyers need to possess strong interpersonal abilities and leverage the latest technology, such as task automation, data analytics and information management tools, to enhance productivity and derive more successful outcomes.” 

Sullivan added that legal professionals with technical expertise are needed to help organizations safeguard confidential information and improve efficiencies. “Data privacy and litigation support specialists, in particular, are seeing expanding job opportunities and above-average compensation.” 

To learn more about current hiring trends and projected starting salary ranges for nearly 50 positions in the legal field, download a complimentary copy of the 2020 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide at roberthalf.ca/salary-centre

Survey Methodology   
The online survey was developed by Robert Half Legal and conducted by a leading independent research firm. It is based on responses from more than 150 lawyers in Canada who work full time at law firms with 20 or more employees or in corporate legal departments at companies with 1,000 or more employees.  

About Robert Half Legal 
Robert Half Legal is the premier provider of legal staffing and consulting solutions for law firms and corporate legal departments. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal provides a customized approach, including managed review, legal project management and eDiscovery services, to help organizations handle constantly changing workloads. The company offers in-demand expertise across practice areas, as well as highly skilled legal professionals on a temporary, project and full-time basis. More information about our full suite of legal staffing and consulting solutions can be found at roberthalf.ca/legal

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