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In-house legal departments in the South East energy sector will grow by 50 per cent during the next year, according to a new survey.
The results of the Michael Page Legal Industry Survey conclude that demand for in-house lawyers in London and the South East continues to drive forward. Speculation about an economic slowdown has done nothing to dent the continued demand for in-house counsel as companies predict further growth during the coming year. Of the respondents to the survey, 49 per cent indicated that the intention is to expand their in-house team during the next 12 months. There has been a deceleration in recruitment demands from newly-established commercial organisations, particularly dotcom ventures, but financial institutions are committed to additional hires. Peter Thompson, operational director of Michael Page Legal, said: "We are not seeing a slowdown. It's certainly reassuring that the market is buoyant." The energy sector in the South East is singled out for particular growth. Thompson said that the most common reason for the increase in headcount was growth in companies as a whole, which all but one sector cited as a reason. Other factors fuelling the prospective increases run true to the previous survey's form, with increasing amounts of legislation and regulation and the cost effectiveness of keeping work in-house driving the growing in-house numbers. The number of lawyers seeking to move in-house remains high, especially at the level of between one and four years qualified. Average salaries have also steadily increased, contributing to an in-house package often including bonuses and share options that is luring a number of lawyers from private practice. Across all the industry sectors surveyed, mergers and consolidation were acknowledged to be the biggest threat to in-house growth.