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Regional Experience, Global Outlook

Janine Clark of Inspire Selection assesses the current legal recruitment market and shares insight on hiring trends, and top skill-sets required in the Middle East

In the first half 2018, we have seen encouraging signs that the Middle Eastern recruitment market is slowly but steadily recovering, suggesting that there is growing confidence from both businesses and firms to invest further into their talent pool. As we know there are several major factors that can affect the Middle East market and with various large-scale objectives across the region now nearer to the horizon, coupled with the advancement of many projects - we are now experiencing a cautious but perhaps inevitable turn in the market. More opportunities are now being presented across a variety of sectors and practice areas for legal professionals. With the unpredictable and cyclical conditions of the last 18 - 24 months, this new wave of opportunities has been welcomed by many ambitious and aspiring lawyers who are looking to further their career in the Middle East.


As demand for new opportunities is high, we are seeing an increasing number of candidates actively seeking work in the marketplace. The result being that competition is greater amongst lawyers seeking a move as businesses are receiving a much wider selection of prospective candidates applying for their jobs. In an opportunity-led market like this, it is typical to see employers raising the bar on quality as well as being far more specific with their search criteria. Requests for specific skillsets, industry experience and first-class education from top-tier institutes are common requirements amongst the mandates we receive now.


In the Middle East, there is a natural appeal for strong bilingual (Arabic/ English) lawyers, but currently there is a growing demand in both private practice and in-house legal teams for these lawyers to have qualification in a common law jurisdiction, as well as any current Arab League state bar they may hold. With the aim to further their long-term career goals, many of these lawyers are now committing to further education by completing a L.L.M in a common law jurisdiction with the goal to later gain admission to a common law bar. Employers also have a keen preference for candidates to have GCC experience and on some occasions more specifically, exposure to the jurisdiction and local laws of the country where they are situated such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, etc.

First-hand experience of working with the relevant local law, dealing with regional businesses and an understanding of local culture is very much valued. A candidate who comes with both work and life experience in the region, is often regarded as being more resilient, able to hit the ground running and adapt to change with minimal risk to the business. That said, there can still be a requirement to source and relocate lawyers from their home countries. This usually takes place when perhaps there is a shortage of a specific skillset here in the region, lack of candidates at the desired level of experience, or in some cases an employer may seek a lawyer with other language skills or exposure to a particular overseas market. As teams mature, there is also an increasing demand for more junior lawyers not only to improve resource and support existing team members but also with more of a long-term view of development and succession planning.

This sentiment is also echoed at the mid-level, with an increase in opportunities for lawyers with 4-7 years’ experience. With downsizing and cut-backs being a common narrative in recent years, perhaps now companies are starting to re-invest into their talent pool. In contrast to the demand for junior and mid-level lawyers, the senior market remains slow at this time, leaving more experienced lawyers to wait it out for further development in  the market.


In a competitive market, the good news is there are steps an ambitious and careerdriven lawyer can take to gain advantage from competing applicants. The first is to really consider what sets you and your skillset apart from other lawyers in your peer group. As well as performing your given duties and responsibilities, how can you add further value to any prospective business or firm? What have you already achieved so far in your career? Whether your achievements include difficult or complex negotiations, large or important case wins, successfully meeting difficult and/or time restricted objectives from leadership or successfully completing a challenging project, ensure that these achievements are clearly detailed on your CV. Be sure to also include key words related to your experience and industry sectors you have had exposure too, as it is very common for hiring managers and recruiters to use key word searches to shortlist suitable candidates from 100’s of applications. This also applies to any professional profiles you have on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, where both internal and external recruiters pro-actively search for suitable candidates.

Familiarise yourself with these unique selling points and be prepared to discuss them in any given interview. Companies and firms often use competency-based interview questions, so it is also advisable to research and prepare for this interview format, enabling you to arrive confident and better equipped to discuss examples of your significant work successes. In interviews, remind yourself that employers are also assessing many other aptitudes such as communication skills, professionalism and the ability to connect and influence so ensure you have taken all the necessary steps to arrive clear-headed, confident and able to give them a clear representation of you and your professional career so far.  Already into the second half of the year, we at Inspire Selection are looking ahead with optimism and looking forward to supporting many more businesses with their legal recruitment needs, as well as assisting lawyers to achieve their long-term career goals.

Read original article here http://www.theoath-me.com/regional-experience-global-outlook/

Connect with Janine Clark, Director, Inspire Selection 


050 935 1255






Posted on Sunday Sep 16