Survey says litigation will be focus of recruiting in near future
Written By Alexia Kapralos

A recent Canadian survey conducted by Robert Half Legal indicates that litigation, primarily in the areas of securities/corporate governance, intellectual property and employment law, is predicted to yield the highest number of legal job opportunities in the country within the next six months.

As more civil lawsuits are being filed and proceeding to court, the need for litigators continues to increase, says Julia Valladao, division director at Robert Half Legal in Toronto.

“Litigation has been a growing area, so this wasn’t surprising for us to see,” she says.

The survey was based on responses from more than 150 full-time lawyers in Canada at law firms with 20 or more employees and at corporate legal departments with 1,000 or more employees, as well as sole practitioners. The results show that 30 per cent of lawyers surveyed believe litigation to be the area in which the most job opportunities at their workplace will exist in the latter half of the year, followed by general business/corporate law at 24 per cent and regulatory/compliance at 15 per cent.

However, some legal recruitment professionals Legal Feeds spoke with say it’s difficult to predict for sure.

Adam Lepofsky, president of RainMaker Group in Toronto, says the current legal market is very strong. He adds that he sees real estate, insolvency and restructuring as areas that have remained hot, while technology and IP law are also increasing areas of demand.

Others, such as Emily Lee, co-founder and partner at ALT Recruitment Partners in Toronto, says she predicts a trend of increased hiring in the employment law, corporate governance and technology areas in the near future, as well as cannabis law, considering the recent legalization of recreational cannabis.

Lepofsky and Lee say there are always litigation opportunities in the marketplace, but it’s difficult to specifically pin-point where the market is heading.

“You can’t really predict anything. People say that hiring goes in cycles,” says Lee. “That also goes with the economy.”

For example, during the recession of 2008, securities law jobs weren’t in demand because people were not investing their money due to the ailing state of the economy.

Lee says that while she wouldn’t say litigation is a “strong” driver of legal recruitment per se, the 30-per-cent result makes sense to her based on what she’s seen in her practice. At ALT Recruitment Partners, she says, placements have been recently made in the areas of construction and commercial litigation, employment litigation and securities litigation. But, Valladao says, this number is actually pretty “significant.”

Alternatively, Lepofsky says he doesn’t see an “emphasis on one area [of law] necessarily” in the near future when it comes to predicting legal recruiting. But, fintech, he says, has been a growing area over the last year due to the push on compliance and regulations surrounding the emerging technologies being developed. The survey results didn’t include this area of practice though.

Ultimately, the results are not definitive, but they serve as a guide on where the legal market could be heading soon. Even though the survey is an informed attempt to demystify the near future of the Canadian legal recruiting market and attempts to provide a glimpse on where lawyers think the market is heading, no one really knows the future — which is why it’s important to always be prepared for anything, legal recruitment specialists say.

“If there’s anything that the last [economic] downturn has taught us is that this is an unpredictable marketplace,” says Lepofsky. “You have to be nimble, you have to be alert and you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and make things happen, and, if not, then find something else to do.”

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