What are the hottest practice areas for lawyers, paralegals and legal support professionals to find their dream job in the legal field? What tips can help you cultivate contacts to boost your current position to the next level or secure your next step in your legal career? And how can you best avoid the pitfalls when job-seeking?
On December 7, Thomson Reuters and Robert Half Legal will present a complementary webinar, Jumpstart Your Legal Career in 2018, that will delve into these issues. As part of the webinar, Jamy J. Sullivan, J.D., executive director of Robert Half, will be discussing the hottest practice areas for those at all levels in the legal profession, as well as the latest salary guide. “We’ll make mention of our latest salary guide, and individuals always have access to that information on our website,” Sullivan adds. The guide includes research on current hiring trends and average starting salaries for more than 50 positions in the legal field, presented in a report.
Among the most in-demand sectors for legal professionals are litigation, general commercial litigation, business litigation and real estate, Sullivan says. “We’ve seen a big increase in demand for legal professionals in health care, as well as compliance in health care, due diligence and contract management,” she says.
Salary Uptick & Popular Perks
In 2018, Sullivan predicts that starting salaries will rise, based upon what she is already seeing. “We’re seeing steady hiring in the legal field and an uptick in starting salaries,” Sullivan says. “One of the biggest changes is employee turnover rates are rising; firms are more competitive, as are benefit packages that retain in-demand candidates.”
Some of the new bonuses and job perks that law firms and legal departments are providing range from pet insurance to onsite or back-up child care, as well as remote work options, medical and dental insurance packages, and life insurance.
We will highlight other perks like flexible work schedules during the webinar that Robert Half is seeing in hiring, she adds.
Tips to Cultivate Contacts
Job candidates should build or create a career action plan, assess their skills and identify and address any gaps, Sullivan advises. “Put a plan in place to achieve your goals and rely on the power of networking,” she explains. In the webinar, she will recommend tactics for boosting your network on social media and offer ways to increase your professional sphere of influence overall.
“Keep in mind the ripple effect — it’s not just the people you know immediately. It’s their contacts as well,” she notes. “It isn’t just your first connections you need to have, but second and third. In general, you can tap into that.”
Get Involved & Know Your Strengths
Job seekers should also be careful to avoid common pitfalls when pursuing career options, Sullivan urges. For example, don’t become complacent, and always keep a pulse on what’s going on in your profession.
“Having a tech-savvy background is great. Are you expanding your tech knowledge? Are you getting exposure into niche practice areas? Get involved in conferences, seminars and local associations,” she recommends. “Those are a few ways to continue to expand your legal expertise.”
The most significant hiring boom remains the health care legal field, followed by in-house real estate practices, compliance and contract management for financial institutions, she observes, adding that “any industry that’s highly regulated continues to see demand for legal talent.”
To separate yourself from the pack, “insure that you keep your expertise up to par. It depends on the practice area you’re in, so don’t become complacent,” Sullivan says.
Support Staff & Non-Traditional Roles
Among the red-hot jobs available for legal professionals are commercial litigation paralegals, compliance managers and contract administrators. “These can be paralegal positions, or even attorneys or those with a new J.D. degree,” she explains. “From a legal support perspective, there is even a hybrid role of legal assistant — or a paralegal and legal secretary. That’s one of the fastest-growing job functions.” Some firms are pursuing these hybrid roles, which they often call a legal assistant, project manager or project assistant, and which may or may not require a law degree.
For those with law degrees, Sullivan will also discuss roles like intellectual property and corporate transaction attorneys, as well as alternatives to traditional legal careers, such as law professor, legal consulting and privacy officers. “A legal consultant can fall into a few buckets,” she says. “We often utilize these specialists for a project manager role — they act as a liaison between the project team and the client and act as a watchful eye. Also, legal consultants can be subject matter experts on a particular case.”
Privacy officers typically develop and enforce privacy policies within an organization, helping the organization comply with state and federal laws, while working with general counsel and chief compliance officers.
Register now for the Dec. 7 complementary webinar, Jumpstart Your Legal Career in 2018.