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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Axiom research reveals half of corporate lawyers are seeking a career change

Axiom research reveals half of corporate lawyers are seeking a career change


Almost three-quarters were considering joining a flexible legal talent provider

Almost half of corporate lawyers in the UK (48 per cent) are actively looking for a new position, or are planning to exit their current role within the next two years (51 per cent), according to research from Axiom Law. The research also found 72 per cent are considering joining a flexible legal talent provider.

The ‘New Life in the Law’ study was conducted by IRN Research. 150 UK-based corporate lawyers across all levels of seniority were surveyed. 46 per cent were employed in a top 100 corporate law firm, 19 per cent were employed in other corporate law firms and 35 per cent were in-house. Post-qualification experience ranged from two years to more than 20 years.

The research found lawyers have a growing interest in alternative career journeys and are seeking news ways to amass diverse skillsets and expertise. “Lawyers are looking for a new life in the law,” said Daniel Hayter, Axiom’s vice president and managing director (Europe).

“Our survey uncovered a host of changes in attitudes and aspirations about traditional career paths. While some of the shifts have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the overall trend is consistent with what we’ve witnessed in the legal services marketplace for a long time: a growing desire among legal professionals to gain more control and autonomy over their careers and build personalized paths that align to their interests and individual aspirations.

Survey responses revealed flexible talent providers have become an established part of the legal services sector and an attractive and long-term employment option for corporate legal professionals.

While increased flexibility and work-life balance have become increasingly important considerations, most lawyers surveyed weren’t looking to ‘downshift’. Material rewards and a progressive career path are still requirements for the majority.

Axiom said the growing interest in joining a flexible legal provider is an important acknowledgment these models can meet those requirements, while offering a steady stream of rewarding, diverse, and challenging work with leading clients.

61 per cent of respondents believed lawyers at flexible providers are well-utilised, working 70 – 90 per cent of available hours. Axiom said this statistic is in line with its talent pool, most of whom work at 100 per cent capacity, or proactively opt for fewer engagements in order to better achieve work life balance.

Sara Morgan, senior vice president (legal talent) at Axiom commented: “Everyone knows that the legal profession is changing by embracing digital transformation and adopting techniques from other sectors such as agile working.

“It’s happening as part of a wider effort to align with changing client-side demand for increased focus, flexibility, responsiveness and proof that legal services deliver quantifiable value. Flexible talent providers are at the intersection of critical these shifts in how lawyers want to work and how clients want to procure legal services.”

The Axiom research highlighted two other notable themes:

·       The client gap: Lawyers believe traditional in-house teams often lack multi-disciplinary skills, and as a result they aren’t seen as vital to achieving business outcomes. 48 per cent of lawyers in practice believed there was a disconnect between the work they do for clients and their client’s business strategy.

·       The office exodus: Lawyers have realised they can work just as effective from home as in the office. A clear majority (61 per cent) preferred to work from home rather than return to the office. Three quarters (75 per cent) agreed working from home has shown them that working for a flexible provider could be a career option.