HSBC’s In-house Legal Team Recruitment
In 2012, HSBC commenced a volume legal recruitment project to focus on Yorkshire for the majority of its legal hiring requirements, in so far as the bank’s global procurement function was concerned. The first phase was to fill 16 technical legal roles. With such a large scale recruitment project, Florit Legal’s legacy business, lead by our MD, was appointed as part of a panel of 3 legal recruitment suppliers based in Leeds and London.
The aim was to recruit an entire in-house legal team of commercial contracts lawyers from either industry or local law firms. This in-house legal team would then work on strategically important, high value commercial contracts across 7 procurement category bands covering corporate real estate, technology, human capital, banking operations, professional services, marketing and advertising.
Initially, lawyers were sought for the bank’s existing in-house legal team premises in Sheffield. This presented 2 principal challenges for us to overcome. Firstly, the scale of the client’s recruitment requirement, was not easily suited to Sheffield’s relatively small legal ‘talent pool’, when compared with the larger in-house legal team recruitment centres of Leeds and Manchester. Secondly, the availability of specialist commercial contracts lawyers in the market is relatively narrow at any given time, regardless of location.
A volume in-house legal team recruitment project of this scale therefore welcomes a good degree of flexibility from an employer, not only regarding a candidate’s technical legal background but also where they can be based. So, following our engagement as legal recruiters, the focus shifted to Leeds as the principal one of a number of locations, and in-house legal opportunities were extended to lawyers with one of a number of legal specialisms – not just commercial contract specialists or procurement lawyers.
Understanding the client’s needs: Recruiters worked to a ‘template’ job description. The common subject matter of each role was obviously global procurement contracts. However, the precise detail of each role and how it fitted within the 7 category bands within the in-house legal team was delivered in group briefings with line managers and ‘master vendor’ representatives. It was then for us to put each individual legal opportunity in its different context for each interested candidate we spoke to. This required a very clear understanding of what technical legal backgrounds would suit each role, and where candidates might suit more than one role within the in-house legal team.
Legal recruitment strategies: Volume in-house legal team recruitment projects are rare for in-house legal functions. Such assignments require a systematic approach – the objective being to make contact with a large number of candidates and the widest possible cross-section of technical legal skills and seniority (PQE) within short period of time. Therefore, Florit Legal recruitment consultants used multiple candidate sourcing strategies concurrently, to engage with the largest possible legal candidate base. In addition to our database of active legal candidates, our approach to in-house legal team recruitment in this instance necessitated advertising on multiple platforms, social media, email marketing, word of mouth referrals and search. This produced a very large number of interested candidates from the Yorkshire legal community, as well as lawyers looking to relocate to Yorkshire from London and elsewhere in the UK.
Looking beyond technical legal skills: Owing to the client’s flexibility on the range of different legal skills they were happy to consider on their shortlist, the roles effectively represented an opportunity to change direction, and to become a commercial contracts lawyer. This career development opportunity was very compelling for candidates who had been seeking an in-house legal team role for a considerable time, but who had been less well catered for by the market. Therefore, our ability to identify candidates with the right qualities and personal attributes was critical, since calibre was of greater importance than a candidate’s current legal specialism (with only a few exceptions).
Since 2012, Florit Legal recruiters are proud to have placed 22 lawyers into what was effectively a new in-house legal team. Unusually, this project allowed us to offer in-house legal careers to lawyers who had, until this point, specialised in banking transactions, corporate finance, infrastructure projects, real estate, regulatory compliance, pensions and employment law – in addition to candidates with the more mainstream in-house legal skills (ie commercial contracts, intellectual property and technology).
Volume legal recruitment: a large scale multi-disciplinary hiring project to create new in-house legal team from scratch.
Geographical issues: these limited the legal talent pool.
Legal recruitment strategy: multi-faceted, concurrent, volume legal recruitment methods.
Master vendor: we were instructed us as part of a panel of legal recruitment suppliers.
Varied appointees: 22 in-house lawyers placed with HSBC’s in-house legal team from a wide range of technical backgrounds.
Location: Leeds, Sheffield and London.