As specialists in business services in the legal sector, we know roles across management functions in law have evolved massively. Since we started recruiting into business services functions over 20 years ago, we have seen HR, BD and marketing, IT and finance functions flourish into sophisticated and often global divisions. We recently conducted a piece of research, ‘Recruitment Trends in Law Firm Business Services’, analysing all business services job vacancies advertised in the sector from 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. Not only that, but further research we conducted in 2018 show that we have also made more leadership placements at Board level – of the top 50 UK law firms, for instance, half now have a chief operating officer (COO) or equivalent. Many of these roles did not exist just 10 years ago, and it is testament to the role business professionals now play in the running of law firms.

Research and findings

In addition, new business services roles and functions have emerged, in areas such as legal operations, training and learning, D&I, transformation, change, technology, data science and product management. Indeed, in the first half of 2018, our figures show that we worked on nearly the same number of operational and change roles as we did for the entirety of 2017. Similarly, in HR functions, while generalist roles still comprise around half of all recruitment in this function, specialist roles have grown rapidly – particularly in recruitment, rewards and mobility, and training/learning. Firms understand the importance of commercial acumen to try new ventures in these uncertain times – but they also increasingly value new and in-depth skills that can support improved firm-wide performance, employer brand, improved client relationships and growth. Our research also indicates that firms are recruiting from a wider talent pool with an increasing number of women and candidates from other sectors being placed in leadership roles. In 2017/18 an equal number of men and women were placed in business services leadership roles in law – that includes COO/CFO/CEO, Director and Head of function roles (click here to see our leadership infographic). At the same time, nearly half (49%) of Totum’s shortlisted candidates now come from other sectors other than law. These statistics suggest that the legal profession is becoming more attractive to a wider group of candidates who recognise it as a sector offering genuine opportunities for interesting work and advancement. Many law firms now come to us looking for support in ways to bring in new types of skills and experience. They are increasingly looking for talent that comes from beyond law – other professional services firms and financial services are popular recruiting ground, but we have also made successful placements with candidates coming from further afield including retail, advertising and the British Army. With their success, firms are becoming ever-more willing to think differently about ways in which to source great business talent. Business services professionals can now enjoy real career development opportunities in law, from entry-level roles right up to board level leadership. And for the legal profession as a whole? This influx of skills and creativity is helping law firms meet the demands of the 21st century with confidence and positivity. If you would would like to receive a copy of Totum's full report 'Recruiting Trends in Law Firm Business Services', which includes detailed data on recruitment across all business services functions in law, please contact [email protected]