In the current market it is clear that legal expertise in the insurance sector is more in demand than ever.
There has been a steady demand for insurance lawyers throughout the downturn, notes Christopher Clark, senior consultant at Red Law Recruitment.
“Recruitment has been within firms rated for insurance rather than those trying to break into the area,” he says. “With insurance work generally paying slightly lower fees, firms need to be geared correctly to make this a profitable area. This has resulted in a number of roles, from newly qualified up to senior partner level, for a range of leading US and UK firms.”
On the safe side
Stuart Greenland of First Counsel adds that demand is high for experienced lawyers in the insurance sector.
“As firms are looking to grow there’s a constant demand for partners with key relationships who can develop new avenues and business streams at the firms they join,” says Greenland. “Firms are looking at good lawyers who may be unsettled by the consolidation and mergers going on in the insurance sector.”
As for specialisms, Rebecca Rogers of Shilton Sharpe Quarry says: “Insurance litigators are in high demand at the moment, although corporate insurance and insurance regulatory lawyers also have a number of options.”
When looking to move practice, Greenland urges lawyers to “look at the medium- to long-term picture in terms of career progression, and where they’ll be happiest rather than simply which option pays the most.”
He adds that a quality CV is key to nailing that important interview.
“Focus on putting together a good CV, outlining the matters [you’ve] worked on in bullet points,” he says. “But don’t go overboard and have a CV that’s far too long.”
As for in-house, the demand is clear, says Oliver Popham, a senior consultant at Laurence Simons.
“While insurance companies are by no means immune to the general economic climate, we’ve seen a steady flow of in-house legal requirements, typically around
the three to five years’ PQE level, with firms targeting candidates from private practice and other insurers,” he says. “In 2012 we anticipate that insurance companies will maintain a cautious approach to hiring, but continue to bolster their legal teams in key areas such as regulatory, corporate and commercial.”
Along with London, Clark points to the EU and other less obvious jurisdictions such as Australia for insurance work.
“Australian firms have been willing to hire a broad spread of qualified associates from junior to senior, with a large amount of cross-over into areas such as product liability, coverage and other high-end areas of dispute,” Clark says. “With London being regarded as one of the main insurance hubs, any candidates coming from a leading London practice will have many options available to them.”