Addressing hiring challenges for in-house legal professionals: strategies for success

6 mins

In-house legal departments play a crucial role in ensuring regulatory compliance, mitigating risks and safeguarding the interests of businesses. Yet, despite their pivotal role, these teams often find themselves juggling several challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining top legal talent. 

From a lack of applications to ambitious compensation demands, and an often-lengthy hiring process, clients may find themselves facing a complex journey towards building teams capable of addressing the needs of their organisations. 

Recently, we have been speaking to a number of our in-house legal clients regarding the struggles they are currently experiencing when recruiting staffSome of these are the same challenges that many Hiring Managers face across all sectors. However, in a digitally connected world, they are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.  

We have outlined some of the most common points that our clients have raised, and how Sellick Partnership can help organisations and Hiring Managers find the right candidate.  

Lack of applications  

This has been a growing trend over recent years but seems to be a much more widespread in the current market. It has never been easier for candidates to search and apply for in house legal vacancies online, but it has also never been easier to be approached on platforms such as LinkedIn, with interesting and exciting legal jobs.

Many of the candidates our In-House Legal team speak to say they simply wait to be contacted about the right in-house legal opportunity instead of applying, even if they are actively looking for a new position. This could be down to candidates finding the process time-consuming and often quite draining. This means when a company posts in house legal roles, the most talented individuals may not be applying. 

Using a specialist legal recruiter means that candidates are being sourced on the client’s behalf, targeting candidates whether they’re actively looking for their next legal job or not. As a result, they may find themselves drawn to the ‘perfect role, with little effort from the client or candidate 

This is particularly interesting from a client’s perspective, especially when passive candidates (those not actively looking) are being contacted, as they are unlikely to be engaging in numerous interviewsTherefore when they reach the offer stage the only thing to contend with is a potential counter-offer from their current employer, rather than multiple offers. 


Counter-offers are becoming more and more prevalent in the current market, for a number of reasons. Losing skilled and experienced employees can be costly for companies, especially if they need to re-hire and train someone new. Counter offering is a way for employers to try to retain valuable talent by offering incentives to stay. 

At times, counter-offers can be difficult for legal candidates to turn down. This is often understandable, when tempted by a salary increase, more flexibility or a promotion – and all within an organisation that feels familiar and comfortable.  

This can sometimes be too good an offer to turn down and may lead to the candidate taking back the notice and rejecting the offer made by the new employer. At which point, the Hiring Manager and other senior employees have used valuable time and resources sourcing the candidate, only to fall at the final hurdle – something we know can be extremely frustrating 

Working alongside a specialist legal recruiter means that right from the very start of the process, the motivations of a candidate can be gently explored, whilst building a rapport and having honest and genuine discussions about the challenges being faced. This means a decision can be made on how serious someone is about a new role, as well as the likelihood of accepting any potential counter-offers 

Competitive market 

Despite some clients experiencing a lack of applications, the in-house legal market is definitely a competitive one and this seems to be on the increase as the months pass. With the number of in-house legal job opportunities growing at a rate of 4.4% annually, it is clear that this trend is showing no sign of slowing down any time soon. 

Alongside the passive candidates, there will also be active jobseekers who are regularly going out to their networks to learn about new legal opportunities. Many, if not all of thesewill be interviewing for and considering more than one opportunity – with some considering around three roles at once.  

With it being such a competitive market, most candidates don’t want to limit themselves to exploring one position and with so many opportunities out there, strong candidates will have a number of interviews lined up at once. This means that when a client makes an offer to a candidate, they will most likely be competing with at least one other organisation. 

It is absolutely vital to build up a good rapport with the candidate before an offer is made, to have them truly invested in the companyWorking with a specialist legal recruiter ensures that a company, and specifically the position, can be sold from that very first conversation.  

A recruitment consultant can also help to control the process, consistently checking in with the candidate to find out what else they have going on, which means the Hiring Manager can be kept in the loop throughout. Of course, this doesn’t mean a candidate won’t choose another option at offer stage, but it can certainly mitigate the chances of a candidate rejecting an offer.  

Unique set of requirements  

One final challenge that has been brought up, is finding candidates with specialised skillsets that align with an organisation's needs. In-house legal teams often require Lawyers with a unique blend of legal expertise, industry knowledge, and business acumen.  

The challenge lies in identifying legal candidates who, not only possess the necessary legal skills, but also understand the intricacies of the company's operations and industry regulations. Whether it's compliance, corporate, or contractual matters, finding a candidate with the right combination of legal skills and industry insight can be a time-consuming and demanding process.  

A specialist legal recruitment consultant will work towards gaining a deep understanding of the industry-specific requirements, enabling them to efficiently identify candidates who possess the necessary legal expertise and understand the nuances of the company's operations and industry regulations. With their knowledge of the organisation's culture, goals, and challenges, in-house legal recruiters can effectively assess candidates for their compatibilityultimately presenting a strong shortlist of individuals for the Hiring Manager to consider.  


The in-house legal recruitment market is extremely competitive – both for candidates and Hiring Managers. There is no denying that counter-offerslack of applications and the unique skillsets needed by In-House Lawyers can make it a challenge to find the right candidate. 

The role of a specialist legal recruiter has never been more important; the ability to go out to an extensive network in a candidate-led market is vital. Over the last 12 months, 65% of permanent placements made by Sellick Partnership into in-house legal teams were passive candidates. These were individuals who were not actively looking but were proactively contacted about the aforementioned perfect legal role. 

To have a specialist legal recruiter actively searching on your behalf, with knowledge of your companyteam, and industrycan be a huge benefit in the current market. This will save time and costs, and also drastically increase the chance of finding the right candidate who will be a part of the team for years to come.  

Get in touch    

At Sellick Partnership, we have an exceptionally dedicated In-House Legal team, equipped with the expertise and knowledge to help clients that are recruiting, or those that would be interested in having a discussion about the current market.  

Please get in touch with us today to discuss the challenges we have outlined, or any others that the sector may be facing, and we would be happy to have a confidential discussion.