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Hiring in Legal: Guide and Trends in 2024

Elevated demand for lawyers with business expansion expertise 

Companies in 2023 prioritised swift growth and recovery post a hiring slowdown, leading to an elevated demand for lawyers possessing expertise in business expansion.

Suchanasa Nantanapramoth, Manager at Robert Walters Thailand’s Legal division, saw clear distinctions between the ways in which law firms and corporate companies approached hiring in the last year.

“Law firms are eyeing partners with robust client portfolios as they see that as a fast track to gaining market share,” shares Suchanasa, who specialises in legal, compliance and company secretary recruitment. “Interestingly, some firms have doubled their headcount, while others took a leaner approach – trimming down their headcount to focus on core specialisations only.”

She also notes that experienced lawyers across areas such as corporate, commercial, M&A, litigation, tax, and employment, with 7-12 years of post-qualification experience (PQE), were in highest demand among clients.

“Among corporate entities, there is an acute need for lawyers with M&A or business expansion expertise. Company secretary positions were also in demand, especially for newly listed companies or those preparing for IPOs,” she continues.

Many companies have also begun segregating data privacy roles from general compliance positions – in response to Thailand’s data privacy regulations, which have been in effect for over a year.

Read on to find out more about Suchanasa’s expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for Thailand’s Legal professionals in 2024.

Remote hiring and hybrid work the new norms

Some trends that have emerged over the past year are set to stay. According to Suchanasa, hybrid work models are now perceived as a standard benefit, instead of a special feature like before. “This was especially so among candidates applying for in-house positions. So, if companies don’t offer this flexibility, candidates may decide not to explore the opportunities,” she says.

Where candidates did leave their jobs, Suchanasa found that there were also less counteroffers as candidates were committed to the new opportunity, which often comes with a substantial pay jump and expanded job scope.

From the initial interview to signing off on the employment contract and every step in between, the hiring process has gone fully remote with the help of virtual calls, online contracts and e-signature apps. Suchanasa notes that many companies made their hiring decisions without requesting to meet the candidate in-person even once, and she believes that the hiring process will continue to be carried out remotely in the coming year.

Lastly, the layoffs and restructuring that took place across the tech industry has also changed candidates’ preferences. In the year ahead, it is believed that candidates will shift their attention from tech startups and fintech to more traditional businesses that are perceived as more secure. These include manufacturers, FMCG companies, financial services and pharmaceutical companies.

Strong demand for partners, senior associates, company secretaries

Candidates and employers that showed flexibility and adaptability have been more successful in securing opportunities or new hires.

“Many vacancies in the last year were sourced without the job description even having been written, which points to the fact that clients are looking for candidates who can adapt and perform beyond the bullet points on a job description,” Suchanasa relates. “At the same time, candidates are after employers that can provide benefits tailored to their preferences. Some emphasise remote or flexible work arrangements, while others requested for family insurance or extra annual leave.”

Within the legal space, there are also more vacancies than eligible candidates to fill them. This is particularly the case for partners, who will be high in demand in 2024 as companies push to increase market share and profits fast. There is also a healthy appetite for senior associates across all practices, but Suchanasa notes that demand has been larger than ever before for tax and employment lawyers.

Companies are also filling general compliance positions, but professionals with PDPA expertise and company secretary experience are particularly sought-after.

Highlight potential for purpose, growth and connections

Companies looking at ways to get better at talent attraction and retention next year should consider focusing on enhancing their employer branding. “Reputable companies have a distinct advantage in attracting candidates,” Suchanasa says. She recommends putting more of a spotlight on the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, diversity, and great working environment & culture.

Acknowledging that many hiring teams prefer “plug and play” candidates with directly relevant experience, Suchanasa also cautions that candidates who can do 100% of a job from the get-go may find their work repetitive and mundane. “My advice is to meet the candidate halfway, by offering them a job in which they have room to grow. This keeps them engaged in the long run,” she adds.

The same applies for companies looking to retain their existing talent. Monetary counteroffers aside, companies should also look at tailoring benefits, providing internal rotations, offering promotion and developing a stronger relationship with the employee in question.

Salaries to increase at standard rates

In 2024, Suchanasa expects salaries to increase to match candidates’ expectations. She notes, “Now that we are in the post-pandemic era and businesses are generally operating normally, employees will feel compelled to move jobs if they don’t receive a pay raise or a bonus.”

Job movers can look forward to increments between 20 – 35%, with even higher rates for professionals in specialised fields.

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Request access to our 2024 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about key hiring trends in the Legal industry in Thailand.

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Suchanasa  Nantanapramoth

Suchanasa Nantanapramoth

Legal, Thailand

Having extensive specialised recruitment experience and a relevant background in Big4 consultancy, Suchanasa focuses on senior-level talent acquisition across industries.

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