Last year investment banks took a cautious approach to hiring legal staff, leaning towards interim and contact hires rather than permanent heads. The US banks, which were under the greatest pressure from a headcount perspective, drastically cut back on hiring. Meanwhile, lawyers with good redundancy packages were happy to stay with their employers rather than seek out new opportunities.
Last year retail banks continued to recruit high-quality contract lawyers to cover maternity leave and undertake project work. There was also demand for lawyers with specific IT contract experience, reflecting the investments that many banks are making in technology, and expertise in insolvency and financial services litigation.
Throughout the last year, the investment management sector has continued to hire lawyers as it responded to regulatory change in the US and EU. The industry must comply with a range of legislation including the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AFIMD) and the Key Investor Information Document. In the last quarter of 2012, there was a marked increase in demand for funds lawyers across both the interim and permanent market. For permanent roles, employers sought a mixture of regulated and non-regulated fund experience and put particular emphasis on the candidate’s regulatory knowledge.