Job Watch: Telecoms

As other sectors ground to a halt during the economic downturn TMT remained very much alive and kicking. But, within the growing TMT sector, how did telecoms hold up?

“Telecoms lawyers from rated practices have always been in high demand and the downturn did little to change this,” says DMJ Legal’s Gemma Haworth. 

In fact, the majority of recruiters have seen a steady stream of telecoms vacancies and this only seems to have picked up momentum in 2012/13.

“The past 12 months have continued to build on the demand for telecoms lawyers that has been developing for five years,” agrees Tarnjeet Prewal at Redlaw, who places responsibility squarely at the feet of telecoms companies that are becoming increasingly competitive in their bids to create innovative products. Even those recruiters who have seen fewer telecoms roles crop up predict there will be a surge in jobs around the second week of September as part of the seasonal influx of instructions.

Telecoms roles are on offer for lawyers with a diverse range of experience, from tech-focused commercial lawyers to those with expertise in regulatory and competition law, litigation and corporate/M&A.

If telecoms is your chosen sector it is worth giving an in-house role serious consideration. 

“On the in-house side, good quality telecoms lawyers will always be in demand,” notes Michael Page Legal managing director David Forsdyke. “In the past year recruitment activity in the large telecoms companies has picked up, creating opportunities for lawyers with expertise in this industry.” 

Several traditional telecoms operators have also moved into the managed service space, he says, so lawyers with tech outsourcing experience are in demand.

That said, telecoms opportunities in private practice are also on the up. As markets improve and in-house budgets grow telecoms companies are finding the cash to splash on external legal counsel. 

“The most active hiring group is the strong mid-City and boutique firms,” says Anousky Tamony at JLegal. 

The magic and silver circle firms, on the whole, tend to focus more on IT/outsourcing, adds Daniel Smith at Noble Legal.

Demand is highest for junior associates between one and three years’ PQE and for those more senior who have five to seven years’ PQE under their belt. Partners with a good reputation and a strong business following are also particularly sought-after.

The most important thing, however, is to have an in-depth knowledge of the telecoms sector. 

“Traditional telecoms experience including interconnect and dark fibre agreements remains valuable as there are relatively few lawyers with extensive experience in these areas,” says Forsdyke. “Their knowledge is particularly valued.”

General commercial lawyers keen to work in telecoms should have experience in managed services, outsourcing, data protection and projects.