Exploring trends, developments and issues in the legal recruitment industry


After over 20 years of legal experience as a Solicitor, I noticed a huge gap in the market for a specialist legal recruiter. Cue the perfect moment to start up Zest Recruitment. With over 40,000 recruitment agencies established within the UK, it was essential that Zest stood out amongst the noise.


What was once a sector stuck in its traditional stereotype, the digital age has put the legal division on course for vast change. With the introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABS), as a development of traditional firms – unqualified lawyers are now able to take a seat at the management table by having the ability to own or invest in legal firms. This in turn, has broadened the talent pool for us.


Alternative Business Structures changing legal recruitment


Whilst this presents us with so many different opportunities to place people within the legal sector, it really depends on the type of ABS firm to the type of hiring they’ll need. The positive side is that you can look beyond years of legal experience and rather focus on the alternative experience of the candidate and what they can bring to the company. It’s not unusual now to see investors of multinational tech firms taking seats on legal boards. Transformational skills can prove really useful when looking at a law firm as a business.


However, its highly unlikely that the profession will let go of the reins entirely and we are unlikely to see a law firm completely ran by non-legal professionals – junior lawyers and solicitors still require the intensive qualifications and legal practice to qualify in their profession. Also, the significance of legal mentors cannot be overlooked when training and developing new legal professionals.


It can be argued that the ABS firms are giving the legal sector the opportunity to reach across industries to help build their talent laterally. However, this is not the only alteration in the legal sector that has developed hiring trends.




This relatively new form of hiring within the legal sector is used to move or allocate an entire department – generally from one firm to another – to assist with specialist caseloads. Whilst this may seem like picking up your house to move it across the road, it’s actually giving other companies the legal support they may need to deal with increasing client demands. This is useful when recruiting as we are faced with candidates that are more geographically malleable and open to opportunities, or a change in direction.


Acqui-hiring can also make a huge difference to existing specialist firms looking to expand by giving them the opportunity to specialise in another area of law. For example, if a firm specialised in Family Law and wanted to branch out into Personal Injury Law, instead of merging firms, they could just hire a department to do this – and that’s where we would come in. It’s intriguing because this style of hiring, traditionally, didn’t even exist and we are constantly surprised with the development of recruitment in the legal sector. It’s an exciting time.


Development of our role


With legal and business intertwining, we’ve had to evolve our approach to legal recruitment. A combination of experience in the legal industry and exposure to new forms of hiring has allowed us to build a consultative wing of the business to help and guide other firms.


Believe it or not, recruitment is no longer just about hiring, it’s also about the guidance you can provide. From advising on hierarchies and expansion advice, to assisting on board level management decisions, we have managed to develop our business alongside the needs of our specialist market – allowing that client relationship to flourish and cement also.


The future is not yet set regarding the legal profession. With the adoption of artificial intelligence and the introduction of chatbots taking over mundane tasks, there are some roles that haven’t even been invented yet. We are forever adapting and developing with that market and can’t help but think, what will the future hold for the legal sector?


By Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods


About the author


Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods has been a practicing solicitor for over 20 years and in 2016 she co-founded Zest Recruitment and Consultancy in a bid to fulfil a gap in the recruitment market place for an agency run by experienced legal practitioners serving in the sector not only on the recruitment side but importantly by being able to provide a 360 degree consultative offering which is seeing a significant take up. Zest Recruitment pride themselves in being able to offer holistic advice from personal experiences regarding hiring and legal business processes.







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