Canadian Lawyers Share Their Hiring Plans for the Second Half of 2016

June 16, 2016

Survey Reveals Employers’ Challenges in Finding Skilled Talent

Toronto, ON. -- An increase in hiring is predicted for the legal field with one-third (33 per cent) of Canadian lawyers interviewed by Robert Half Legal anticipating their law firms or companies will add legal jobs in the second half of 2016, 10 per cent more than six months ago. Fifty-three per cent of lawyers said they expect to only fill vacant posts, while 7 per cent said they would neither fill vacant positions nor create new ones. Just three per cent of respondents anticipate staff reductions in the next six months.

Legal Hiring Environment in Canada*

July-Dec. 2016

Jan.-June 2016

July-Dec. 2015

Expanding/adding new positions

33%

23%

38%

Maintaining/filling vacated positions

53%

56%

48%

Freezing/not filling vacated positions or creating new ones

7%

17%

11%

Reducing/eliminating positions

3%

2%

1%

Don’t know

4%

2%

3%

100%

100%

101%

*Some responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing and consulting solutions firm specializing in lawyers, law clerks and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 150 telephone interviews with lawyers in Canada: 75 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 75 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.

  • Seventy per cent of lawyers said finding skilled legal professionals is somewhat or very challenging while 50 per cent of survey respondents expressed concern about losing legal personnel to other job opportunities in the next six months.
  • Thirty-nine per cent of lawyers said that, aside from compensation or bonus, challenging work or variety of assignments provides the greatest incentive for legal professionals to remain with an employer. Flexible work arrangements ranked second, receiving 29 per cent of the survey response, followed by professional development opportunities at 13 per cent.

“Law firms are hiring to expand lucrative practice groups or establish new services while legal departments are recruiting professionals to support an increase in case work related to commercial litigation and transactions,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Midlevel lawyers and paralegals who possess deep knowledge of a particular industry or sector are highly marketable.”

Litigation Expertise in Demand

Litigation is expected to yield the most job opportunities from July through December of 2016, according to 36 per cent of lawyers surveyed. Within the litigation practice area, commercial litigation and insurance defence were identified as the leading drivers of job growth, with 46 per cent and 44 per cent of the survey response, respectively.

Lawyers were asked, “Which one of the following practice areas will offer the greatest number of job opportunities in the second half of 2016?” Their responses:**

Litigation

36%

General business/corporate law

25%

Real estate

12%

Privacy, data security and information law

7%

Intellectual property

5%

Regulatory or compliance

5%

Ethics and corporate governance

3%

Other

4%

None/don’t know/no answer

4%

101%

**Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

Lawyers who cited “litigation” as a response were also asked, “Which of the following areas of litigation, if any, will offer the greatest job opportunities in the second half of 2016?” Their responses:***

Commercial litigation

46%

Insurance defence

44%

Employment

13%

Personal injury

8%

Personal/family law

8%

Class actions

7%

Intellectual property

3%

Securities and corporate governance

1%

Other

14%

Don’t know

3%

***Multiple responses were permitted.

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 roberthalflegal.ca, and for career and management advice, follow our Legal Blog at blog.roberthalflegal.com. Follow @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter and visit blog.roberthalf.ca for workplace news, trends and advice.