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The 8 Legal Recruitment Trends That Will Dominate in 2020

  • December 20, 2019

From artificial intelligence for candidate sourcing to a new generation of employees – what does the future hold for the legal profession and its employees?

As we enter a new decade, now is the ideal time to focus on the predicted trends in legal recruitment and ask which ones will dominate the legal recruitment sector in 2020.

Recruiters are conscious that significant changes are ahead in the next twelve months. A retiring baby boomer generation, advancements in technology and a new generation with a considerable set of alternative world views will join the workforce, impacting on current employees, law firms and their clients.

So, in a legal marketplace where it seems change is the only constant, what can you, as a legal professional, expect to see over the next year?

In this article, I will address some of the critical areas predicted to impact on the legal recruitment arena in 2020.

1. Automation

Advancements in automation technology mean that sifting through individual CVs is becoming a thing of the past for hiring managers and recruiters. Today, automation can take the strain – and time –out of the hiring process by helping facilitate candidate screening, scheduling (and conducting) interviews and performing skills and personality analysis (more on this later). For candidates, this will mean paying extra attention to constructing job applications and CVs to ensure the right words are picked up by automated processes.

Additionally, a rise in e-discovery professionals is expected. This rapidly growing legal field will aid legal professionals, offering significant advancements in technology to facilitate legal procedures and manage electronic data in 2020. E-discovery allows both parties in a lawsuit to discover information in possession of the other, without the inevitable hold-ups created by physical searching for paperwork and holding vast quantities of data in paper form.

2. Psychometric Testing

Alongside other new ways of hiring, such as video interviewing, is a surge in preference for psychometric testing. First developed in the early 20th century, this tool has gathered credence as a valuable asset within the hiring process. It is predicted to gain further traction as one of the go-to methods of selection in 2020.

Psychometrics will save employers time, help ensure the ‘best fit’ candidates are selected for an interview, maintain a consistent standard for hiring, and enable employers to work out the best personality type to enhance their legal team.

For employees, it will mean a better chance of aligning their ethos with that of the firm they want to work for, and ensuring that they will be a good mix with colleagues at the firm, if successful in their application.

3. Employer Branding

Purpose-driven firms evolve faster than others, and in the new decade, employer brand becomes more crucial than ever in positioning law firms in the legal marketplace.

Employer brand encompasses the vision, mission and goals of the firm. Those who ensure their brand is seen favourably in the marketplace will see an upsurge in top legal professionals who wish to work for them.

For candidates, clear employer branding will enable you to know precisely what the firm stands for – their culture and goals – before you apply for a position. Once in place, good company culture and EVP will ensure you want to stay and grow your career with that firm and help them achieve long-term aspirations.

4. Hiring on Attitude

More and more employers are discovering the merit of hiring on attitude rather than skillset – good news for many candidates.

There is a rise, backed by evidence, that attitude is a considerably more significant predictor of success than IQ, and that disengaged, negative employees can have a costly impact on the economy.

So, it stands to reason that as we move into a new decade, law firms realise that employees with a positive outlook, good communication skills and well-developed emotional intelligence are the way to create a successful legal team and enhance the firm’s financial position.

So, for those looking for a new legal role, it will be crucial to offer a robust set of transferable skills and show a positive attitude.

5. Candidate Experience

When it comes to hiring, it used to be the case that the employer had the upper hand. Not so any longer. With so much competition for top talent in today’s legal marketplace, would-be employers must make sure to provide an excellent candidate experience.

2020 is likely to see a rise in the pressure on firms to offer an enticing combination of salary, benefits (more on this next) and company culture to attract new talent and enable them to feel connected to the firm’s culture and philosophy. Firms will need to manage their hiring process effectively to avoid losing candidates and consistently maintain an excellent reputation via social media.

In effect, this means that candidates can expect to enjoy a smooth and professional hiring process and onboarding experience.

6. The Desire for a Better Offer

Competitive hiring market means that to secure talent, employers will need to re-examine not only the remuneration on offer but the whole benefits package.

Candidates can expect to see flexibility in working hours, with employers offering (where possible) working from home options. For Millennials and Gen Z, who see work-life balance as a critical decider when looking for work, these flexible working options could be the deciding factor in deciding which law firm to work for.

Alongside better benefits, employees desire for a workplace that matches their ethos and values is expected to grow significantly. Consequently, law firms who embrace the concept of company culture will be positioned firmly at the front of the pack for jobseekers.

7. Diversity and Culture

A study by McKinsey & Co in 2015 found that companies with greater racial and gender diversity were 35 per cent more likely to have higher financial returns than the respective industry average.

And since then, employees desire for an excellent company culture that embraces diversity in all its forms has grown. Company culture is a pivotal part of the decision-making process for candidates with multiple job offers – and this trend looks to build, with more and more firms realising that they need a great company culture and career pathway options offer as well as a good salary.

8. Rise of the Next Generation

Baby Boomers will continue to retire in large numbers as we enter the new decade. This will have an inevitable impact on the legal arena, as an estimated seventy-five million retirees will see a surge in demand for legal services focusing on retirement planning, securing assets for the next generation, and the legalities of living arrangements for old age.

For the younger generations entering the marketplace as high tech and hyper-connected individuals, a rise in employers recognising what drives this generation will enable them to find their place in a forward-thinking law firm with excellent career prospects. And with their passion for innovation, new employees will thrive in their legal career where they are recognised and appreciated for the skills they bring to the workplace.


While it’s impossible to predict the economic future, it is relatively safe to say that advancements in technology, innovation and a Gen Z surge will define recruitment in 2020.

Legal services are one of the most important world markets, and with a demand for legal services comes a competitive race to attract top candidates to firms. Therefore, legal professionals can expect to have a variety of options open to them when looking for a new role and can look ahead to a fulfilling legal career that enables them to achieve their ambitions.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team to stay ahead of your competitors in the new decade, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal IT Personnel to Practice Managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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