The past year was a busy one for Totum, partly because of the number of assignments we worked on (both new and replacement roles), but also because the business services market in law always keeps us on our toes, as trends fast develop and change.

At the leadership end of legal business services, there is a growing number of roles offering genuinely interesting opportunities for ambitious management professionals. The most senior placements cover a broad array of titles including Head of Change, HR Director EMEA, Chief Information Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Head of Operational Risk and Compliance, Business Development Director – Asia, and Director of Knowledge. Not only are the roles varied but, as is clear from this list alone, their remit is getting wider too, often including international responsibilities.

Looking at specific functions, we have seen a rise in both senior risk and IT roles. Both reflect the rapid changes impacting the legal profession and the need to embrace innovation and new technology, as well as ensure business compliance and resilience. Earlier in the autumn of 2017, we were delighted to talk to Kevin Harris, IT Director at Taylor Wessing, who we think reflects a new wave of technology leadership in law. As a member of the firm’s operational board – a step that’s still relatively rare for technologists in law – he is integral to the management of the firm, including helping to build the firm’s brand and understanding its business development practices. You can see the full interview with Kevin by clicking here.

Innovation titles continue to loom large – with more firms creating dedicated roles and/or innovation hubs. A current typical example of this is the Process Improvement/Innovation Manager role we are working on, which offers the right candidate the chance to be an ambassador for change while delving into the specifics of process improvement projects. Roles like this, as well as others in growth areas such as pricing, project and process management, communications, digital marketing and general management, continue to blur the boundaries between different business services functions, reflecting rising levels of integration across all divisions and the trend towards more joined-up thinking (look out for more from us on all these key roles in the weeks ahead).



We’ve seen a welcome uptick in senior HR roles after a relatively quiet period earlier in 2017. A number of new HR Director roles have come in to cover retirement or back fill, as well as new appointments. Director level roles across all functions are always exciting as they bring with them broader opportunities as new directors establish themselves, their team and the on-going role of the function.

In fact, HR has seen a healthy rise in roles across all levels – and particularly in learning and development (L&D), with more firms investing in this area, for example, by bringing in Heads of L&D, who can drive this function forwards. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is also a growth specialism with more firms launching their first dedicated D&I role in 2017. Together with an increase in recruitment roles, it may also be an indication that the market is improving (click here to see our more in-depth HR autumn update).

Marketing & Business Development (BD)


Marketing and BD has remained a busy function generally – we have seen recruitment ramp up across all BD and marketing jobs and locations. Some are replacement positions but there are many new roles too, reflecting just how valued BD and marketing skills are in the legal sector.

There is a continued trend for firms to invest in BD and comms, with firms seeking those who can act as business advisors understanding clients and using the right tools and research skills to spot opportunities and respond to market change. More firms are focusing on content and campaign roles too – often comprising a strong digital component and offering the right candidates considerable responsibility to coordinate and own large-scale UK and international campaigns (click here to see our more in-depth Marketing & BD autumn update).



In finance, the hot topic continues to be around commercial accounting, including pricing. There are four new heads of pricing roles in the top-30 law firms and others are following. Previously, these specialists only really featured in top-10 UK law firms; now the majority of firms with turnover of £200m+ have them in some capacity. This has created an opportunity to develop a team of pricing specialists and they do not all need to have a legal or accounting background – it is fast becoming a relevant career path for non-accountants too.

There is a strong and consistent demand for good finance candidates in both London and the regions, and we are always looking for those who are qualified and part-qualified from within or outside of law. Law firms are often generous in providing financial support as well as time off for those studying towards professional qualifications (click here to see our more in-depth Finance autumn update).

UK-wide opportunities


Across all functions, we are seeing a rise in opportunities for business services professionals outside of London (click here to see our recent 'Regional Powerhouses' article). Law firms are increasingly willing to move operations to other parts of the UK. At the same time, firms headquartered beyond the capital’s boundaries have also proved able to hold their own, often working with major clients every bit as attractive as those boasted by City operations.

This has resulted in a growing demand for business services professionals at all levels of seniority to develop their careers in locations across the UK. Examples of recent regional job titles include Senior Digital Executive, Account Manager, BD & Marketing Coordinator, Head of Operations, HR Manager and Group Financial Controller.

The US proposition


US firms continue to offer good prospects for business services candidates. US firms with offices in London have stormed up the legal league table in recent years, and business services roles have grown with them (see our recent article on advice to candidates interesting in joining a US firm).

But in 2017, we also worked on more business services placements based in the US too, as UK business services professionals come into demand for their ability to develop functional expertise – particularly in areas like BD, where firms require sophisticated skills to help build their international profile. Our work here has also been aided by our close partnership with US consultancy Calibrate Legal – with whom we have worked on recruitment and research across UK/US markets. We look forward to working together more in 2018.

Beyond law


Across all functions and all levels of seniority, we are seeing a growing willingness among firms to consider candidates who come from outside of law. This is partly because law firms need new skills and capabilities – and they know that means looking more widely to find them. But in certain cases, a shortage of candidates is also prompting them to be more open to different backgrounds. For candidates too, there is increased awareness of the great career opportunities the legal profession can offer. We welcome this broader view as we see new ideas and skills coming into law, to join an already impressive cadre of business services professionals thriving in today’s legal profession.

New roles for Totum


In 2018, we look forward to working across all functions on both growing law firms’ existing business services strengths as well as focusing on new areas. In particular, we recently welcomed Julius Reeves to the Totum team. He is working as a consultant on emerging roles including project management, process innovation, change management, programme management, and project and business analysis (click here to see Julius’s bio).

In addition, we are increasingly supporting firms with roles encompassing broader remits including titles such as Business Manager, Office Manager and Practice Manager. These vary hugely with each role having its own bias towards, for example, HR, recruitment or facilities, depending on the unique requirements of each firm we work with. We look forward to reporting back on progress in all these areas in 2018.

2017 was an exciting year for Totum, not just in terms of the on-going demand for business services professionals, but also in view of fast developing trends that will continue to shape and change law into the future.

We wish you all a very happy year ahead and look forward to working with you to make a success of 2018.


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