Latest news – Recruitment on agenda; Mind your language; Cyber smarts lacking

[Australasian Law Management Journal,Finance & Accounting,General Management,People Management(HR),Strategy & Leadership,Technology] December 26, 2019

Companies, firms to expand legal teams

There are promising signs on the legal recruitment front in the United States. According to staffing firm Robert Half’s State of Legal Hiring research, more than half of American-based lawyers (54 per cent) said their company or law firm will expand its legal team in the first half of 2020. Of those respondents, 9 in 10 anticipate staffing at least some open positions with legal professionals on a temporary, project or consulting basis.

Litigation; privacy, data security and information law; and general business or commercial law are the top three practice areas expected to drive job growth, according to survey respondents. Within litigation, commercial litigation and insurance defence will reportedly offer the most employment opportunities in the first half of 2020.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • the top positions law firms and companies anticipate adding in the first half of 2020 are lawyers, compliance specialists and data privacy specialists. Midlevel associates and corporate counsel with four to nine years of experience are in highest demand;
  • of the lawyers surveyed, 87 per cent claim it is difficult to find skilled legal professionals. A shortage of qualified candidates is the greatest recruiting challenge for 47 per cent of respondents;
  • aside from legal knowledge, lawyers rate practice area expertise, industry/sector knowledge and technology skills/digital expertise as the most important factors when evaluating legal candidates;
  • almost 8 in 10 lawyers (76 per cent) are concerned about losing legal talent to other job opportunities in the next six months;
  • beyond compensation and bonuses, lawyers say flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities and challenging work or variety of assignments are the best incentives for retaining employees.

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 350 lawyers in the US who work full time at law firms with 20 or more employees or in corporate legal departments at companies with 1000 or more employees.

Tattoos fine, but bad language an office no-no

A new survey from international staffing firm Accountemps reveals how office etiquette is changing.

While most senior managers (91 per cent) indicated that organisations have become less strict, certain behaviors are still not accepted, including using foul language, bringing pets to the office and displaying political signs or messages. However, about one-third of companies now see no problem with employees having visible tattoos, wearing casual attire and having non-traditional hair colours. Other key findings include:

  • 1 in 3 employers said having non-traditional piercings and using casual language or emojis in emails was now acceptable;
  • about two in five respondents reported that playing music without headphones and streaming sports events remain office no-nos; and
  • in addition to exhibiting political décor at work, many senior managers said streaming political events and talking about politics are inappropriate.

“Workplace policies today are designed to attract and retain employees, and that often means they’re more relaxed,” said Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. “There can also be unwritten rules of behaviour or dress that are specific to a particular company or industry.”

Data privacy laws a headache for firms

New research reveals that more than 50 per cent of participants in a legal industry survey are not, or are only somewhat, confident in their knowledge of the current Australian data privacy legislation.

The finding comes in the aftermath of the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme. Called the Decoding Cybersecurity: Clause and Effect report, published by LexisNexis, it considers the issues around cyber security for the legal industry in 2019 and is based on the company’s 2019 Roadshow Cybersecurity Survey of 250 legal practitioners.

The report also shines the spotlight on the legal sector’s preparedness and skills in protecting data, with almost 45 per cent saying that they are not adequately prepared to act in the event of a cyber-attack on their business. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that while 80 per cent of participants believe that their profession is aware of the importance of maintaining robust cybersecurity practices, less than 20 per cent felt that the industry would maintain such practices, with more than 10 per cent believing that lawyers do not maintain these practices at all.

At the same time, firms are ramping up their expertise around cybersecurity advice for clients. More than 80 per cent of the participants believed that their firm’s cybersecurity practice group headcounts will be increasing by up to 10 people, with over half the profession noting that their cybersecurity practice group billings have increased by more than 5 per cent.