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Hiring in Legal: Flexible work arrangements key to attracting skilled legal talent in 2023

With the reopening of international borders in 2022, Malaysia’s legal market was impacted by a shortage of skilled talent, as many looked to job opportunities that provided them with flexible work arrangements and/or are based overseas, such as Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong that come with wider cross-border exposure. While more local legal consultancy companies opened in the country, there was a rise in demand for professionals with regional exposure as well as pressure for companies to offer flexible or remote work arrangements to attract and retain talent in the local market.

“Flexibility is one of the main considerations as a number of candidates were still looking for hybrid, flexi-hours or rotations as compared to traditional pre-pandemic working arrangements,” explains EuJinn Teo, Manager of Legal & Corporate Secretarial, Robert Walters Malaysia. The need to balance between candidates’ and clients’ needs will continue into 2023, he adds.

Read on as EuJinn shares his expectations about the labour market and hiring trends for legal and corporate secretarial professionals in 2023.

Technical skillsets in high demand

In 2023, companies in FMCG, IT, and telecommunications for example will be hiring in-house legal professionals with experience in specific / niche industry / legal specialisation and procurement experience, to name a few. Fund management or financial services related industries are highly likely to activate hiring as well. Dual-qualified professionals in legal and corporate secretarial, legal and compliance, or legal and data privacy will also be highly sought after in the market, shares EuJinn.

In the arena of private practice, professionals with experience in corporate mergers & acquisitions, venture capital, and/or capital markets will see high demand.

Technical skill sets in legal compliance such as data privacy, corporate commercial and corporate secretarial will be in demand across both in-house and private practice companies alike.

“Companies also tend to hire based on potential and they are looking for professionals with strong commercial acumen and communication/stakeholder management skills,” he adds.

Retain talent with growth opportunities and flexi-work arrangements

Clarity in organisational or department directions and career growth within teams will be a crucial factor in keeping employees engaged and motivated.

Companies looking to retain employees in 2023 are advised to offer more growth opportunities, such as exposure to more interesting portfolios or bigger projects. EuJinn shares that benefits such as flexi-work arrangements will remain a key consideration for many employees, but clarity in organisational or department directions and career growth within teams will be a crucial factor in keeping employees engaged and motivated.

He adds that companies should look at offering competitive salaries to potential candidates that are based on market rates – this will help secure the right talent amid a potential recession in 2023. 

Increments for legal professionals to hold steady

EuJinn expects salary increments for legal and corporate secretarial positions in Malaysia to continue into 2023 at approximately 20% to 30%, coupled with attractive benefits entitlement, as the market continues to recover amid economic uncertainties. 

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