Legal Information hiring trends - Interview with Tim Palmer

Posted 31/5/2023 by Tim Palmer

Interview with Tim Palmer – Tim has been with CB Resourcing for six years. He works with a wide range of the UK’s legal and professional services employers on their knowledge and information management assignments.


What’s been the story so far in 2023? Any noticeable themes?


Most of the work I’ve been attached to in the early part of the year has been within the legal industry and going into 2023 I was feeling pretty pessimistic about the Outlook. But this really hasn’t been the case, certainly from a demand perspective. Although it’s been noticeably slower than 2022, which was a fairly exceptional year following the pandemic.


We have seen considerable demand for legal information professionals which has been fuelled by growth, the need for broader skills in teams, and by people moving between firms. In terms of noticeable themes, I’d say that hiring times are becoming longer. I think it’s fair to say that it’s much rarer to find a strong legal information professional between jobs than it might have been in the past.


How would you describe the current market for information professionals?


Right now, I’d say it’s a great time to be a legal information professional with a couple of years of experience. There are lots of opportunities right now and it’s likely to be the same going forward.


If you’ve acquired some strong research skills and enjoy the stakeholder interaction in your role. There are a lot of firms that will hire candidates who have room to grow in a role, which is great for those seeking professional growth.


From the hirer's perspective, it’s challenging, perhaps more so than ever. There are a few factors behind this, but I’d say almost all hires that we make come from pitching opportunities to candidates within our network.


To be effective at attracting talent, roles, and firms need a USP. Part of this is financial, candidates want to be paid fairly but there are many other factors that are considered.


What have been the challenges for firms recruiting in this sector?


In 2022 there was a lot of movement, taking law as an example, perhaps 40-50 people from one firm to another, which is a noticeable percentage of an already small potential candidate pool that probably won’t move again for 18-24 months.


Candidates have many different motivations for making a move such as more flexibility in working practices, opportunities for professional growth, and money. There are some firms that offer some really innovative reasons for candidates to move.  It’s rarely as simple as a pay rise and offer of flexible working. Candidates are looking at working conditions, learning opportunities, and firm culture.


I’d say that finally and probably most importantly, there aren’t enough new professionals being hired by legal and professional services firms as information graduates. I look back on the past 6-7 years and see graduates we’ve placed or worked with flying up the structure of firms. There are some really great opportunities in this sector. I recently spoke with students at CityLIS about the fabulous opportunities in legal and professional services.


Where do you see the opportunities?


“About 2 years of experience in a similar setting..” This is without doubt the single most common brief we get in legal information. If you’re a law firm right now I’d say that’s a process in which factoring in search, interviews and notice periods will take considerable time and effort perhaps a few months until a candidate starts and if you’re not offering a competitive salary with strong USPs it can take longer.


Personally, for roles at this level, I’m always suggesting clients also consider training a graduate who is perhaps limited by environment than capability.  More grads going into information roles helps to stimulate the industry as a whole in the long run too!


What is your big prediction for 2024?


Based on what I know about salaries people earn and what firms will pay, I am going to say that £50,000 will be the baseline salary for a law firm in London that wants to hire an experienced information professional in 2024.  


CB Resourcing


We work with a wide range of law firms across the UK on knowledge and information management assignments and can offer salary guidance and insight into the availability of talent. Contact us for more information.


More broadly we work with a huge range of organisations from financial services, private equity, charities, government, and industrials.


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