Talent at topLeadership roles are always tricky to recruit because organisations all need different qualities from their most senior staff. But it is arguably even more difficult when placing business leaders in law because business services functions have grown so rapidly, requiring a similarly speedy development in capabilities from those that head them up.
Research and findingsRecruitment firm Totum recently conducted research, ‘Recruitment trends in law firm business services’, which analysed data covering all legal business services job vacancies advertised between 2015 to 2018. The findings show that business services roles across all functions have increased: they now account for over 15% of law firm vacancies, up from 13% at the beginning of 2016. This is quite a shift from the days when business services functions were typically run by just one person! But this growth has also put more demand on those directors heading up these functions. Not only do they have significant responsibility to support the development of their own teams, but they also have to work hard to integrate them effectively into other functions across the firm so that they can collectively deliver against overall strategic objectives. This has consequently pushed functional business leaders up the seniority chain – as they have proved their value in improving internal operations and strategic thinking, as well as positively impacting the external-facing business in areas like brand, reputation, client relationships and pricing mechanisms. Further research conducted by Totum looking specifically at leadership placements since 2015 show that:
- The number of Totum’s leadership placements has increased over the past three years, and many of them are now at board level: of the top-50 UK firms, half now have a Chief Operating Officer (COO) or equivalent.
- Leadership roles from 2015 to 2018 split (on average) as follows: Director (45%), Head of (28%), COO/CEO/CFO type roles (20%), and other (7%). It is striking that COO/CEO roles now form nearly a quarter of Totum’s leadership work. These roles did not even exist in many firms just 10 years ago.
- Nearly half of the candidates shortlisted by Totum are now women, and an equal balance of men and women are now getting placed in leadership roles too.
- More leadership candidates come from other sectors. Nearly half (49%) of shortlisted candidates now come from other professional sectors or beyond – and nearly a third of leadership placements are with candidates from outside of law.