Legal labour market seeing high mobility, says new research from recruitment agency Robert Half

Current environment has been favourable to job seekers for at least the last year

Legal labour market seeing high mobility, says new research from recruitment agency Robert Half
Michelle Dunnill, Robert Half Canada

Many legal professionals are on the move in Canada, according to new research from the employment agency Robert Half.

Forty-three percent of the legal professionals surveyed said they planned on switching jobs by the end of the year. And among the respondents in managerial roles, 93 percent said it is currently challenging to find skilled talent.

“Overall, job optimism remains high,” says Michelle Dunnill, regional director, Toronto, at Robert Half.

She advises employers seeking the best legal talent in the market to come to the table with competitive pay, benefits, and perks. And they must be open to flexible work schedules. Survey respondents also indicated they would lose interest in a long, drawn-out recruiting process.

“For job seekers, the market is still favourable for workers with in-demand skills,” says Dunnill. “They can take advantage of that by assessing their current situation and determining if their needs could be better met elsewhere because there are opportunities in the market.

“And then for employers, our research shows that workers continue to explore the job market, so there is talent on the market.”

The hiring environment has been favourable for lawyers, paralegals, legal clerks, and assistants for at least a year. The recent results mirrored Robert Half’s survey from March, which found that legal talent was hard to come by for law firms and legal departments and that many legal employers were planning on hiring more contract workers. Last October, Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Guide found that employers in the legal sector were paying more and exploring creative ways to entice candidates in a stingy labour market.

“We saw this earlier this year, and it's continuing,” says Dunnill. “Beyond increasing starting salaries, companies are offering added perks and benefits, fully remote and hybrid jobs, and more paid time off. They're getting a little more creative in the perks that are offered to any candidate.”

She says that job seekers should understand the importance of networking, “acting with urgency,” researching the targeted organization, and being prepared to negotiate.

Robert Half’s survey polled around 1,140 workers in Canada from a range of professional fields. Their results showed that Gen Zers were the most mobile-minded, with 64 percent saying they planned to switch jobs before the end of the year. Fifty-one percent of working parents and 56 percent of employees who had been with their company for 2-4 years said the same.

Survey respondents looking for jobs said higher salaries, better benefits and perks, and remote work options were the most significant motivators – 55, 28, and 26 percent, respectively. Fifty-six percent of prospective employees said they would withdraw from consideration due to “poor communication and follow-up from the hiring manager.” Forty-six percent said they would do so in response to more than three rounds of interviews.

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