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February Eye on ESI: More Job Seekers Are Looking, More Contract Opportunities Are Open

TRU Staffing Partners February 9, 2023 at 7:30 AM

Each month, the dynamic trio of TRU Founder and CEO Jared Coseglia, ACEDS President Mike Quartararo, and ACEDS VP, Strategy & Client Engagement Maribel Rivera discuss key ediscovery industry hiring metrics from the previous month and predict future trends they see coming to job seekers and hiring managers. The middle of Q1 2023 showed little change since the last discussion but the news was good for many who are looking to move into their next roles. 

Updates to the Speed of Hire
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Jared Coseglia: As you can see, Q4 of last year and Q1 of this year were similar in terms of speed of hire. It takes most vendors hiring mid-market professionals around 25 to 35 days from start to finish, and law firms hiring similar professionals around 90 to 120 days. This is because most of the law firms have in-office requirements between three and five days a week. If you are in the office, it's taking longer to hire candidates despite whatever recessionary fears or backdrafts from vendor layoffs.

Contract staffing has sped up because most of the jobs out there have shifted into contract or contract-to-hire versus full-time in this period of uncertainty. It's like what happened in 2020 and what we've been going through for the past four months, which is right about when Meta laid off 11,000 people – hiring managers started taking calibrations to prepare for a recession.

However, I think we are going to have a soft landing, instead of a full-blown recession. But that may mean some of the job market has to get worse before it gets better. By the time we get to Q2, you will see a lot more jobs flood onto the market. A lot will still be contract based, but there will be more full-time jobs as well. Most of these jobs will be mid-market positions and the speed of hire won't change. We think this tempo is the new normal speed of hire:

  • 30 to 40 days for vendors
  • About 90 days for law firms
  • A couple of weeks for contractors, and
  • Fewer than three months for executives

The other thing that hasn't changed is how many offers a candidate is getting when they go to market. Fewer candidates are willing to change jobs, and as a result, the market remains competitive.

Maribel Rivera: We've got a great question in the chat. There are many people left behind at companies after layoffs. Do you anticipate some will jump because of increased workloads? Are you seeing that now?

JC: More candidates are definitely reaching out, but it's not just increased workloads. What we're experiencing from job seekers is a real reflection on things like not being behind the mission of a company or that they don’t fit in culturally or feel good about the people they work with. We hear it from one out of every three people who are seeking new roles. For some, it's in-office mandates. People need different kinds of flexibility. They need to know the purpose behind rules and how companies structure their businesses

New Salary Averages by Region

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In salary numbers for law firms, the second to bottom line is where most of the market is hiring at law firms right now. We're starting to see this as the new norm, which is about 40% higher than 2019. Most of those jobs require an in-office presence, and these people are not going to come in without more money.

Here we have vendors’ salaries. They're broken down with a little more specificity because the ecosystem there is a little broader. 

Screen Shot 2023-02-08 at 4.59.50 PMThe difference between analysts at a law firm versus a vendor is that law firm analysts are still involved with cases in meaningful ways. Analysts at vendors are like paratroopers. They parachute in, add value, then move out. But we are starting to see that pick up a little bit. Very little at the upper middle management level anywhere in the market right now. Lots in the middle and at the bottom. We've seen more hiring at the bottom in the last two months than we have in the last two years.

MR: Interesting. I'm also hearing a lot of new companies popping up, which is interesting to me. I don't know if either one of you see that, but in our space, legal technology, we hear more companies are starting up.

JC: Yes. We're tracking more than 650 private equity or venture-backed software companies in the data privacy and security space. And it reminds me of ediscovery back in 2002 when I first got into the game. These startups won't last forever, they're going to get rolled up. Some of them are looking to do this as part of their exit strategy.

MR: We have an audience question: Any guidance for ediscovery positions in-house?

JC: They don't exist, and when they do, they are generally far left leaning in forensic collection investigation and are low level. They are always paying less than what a law firm or vendor will pay. Corporate America is not in the business of running expensive ediscovery departments despite how much cost savings they might provide the organization. 80% of the jobs in this industry are at vendors and consulting firms and software companies, and the other 20% are at law firms with sprinklings at corporations.

My advice is if you want work at a big corporation, figure out how to reinvent yourself into a cybersecurity, data privacy, or governance professional because that's where the jobs are.

MQ: I'll point out the exceptions to Jared's rule are the massive corporations that are in serial litigation. Expect to be paid a lot less, though. The other way into that market is through secondment. They do this a lot with lawyers.

JC: Secondments are the only way in. It's not just the big four doing secondments, it's lots of different companies. Even some $10-to-$20 million ediscovery companies have secondments in some of their core customers, where they have embedded talent. But remember, you don't work for the corporation. You don't get the corporate benefits – so if that is what you're looking for, I'd expand your knowledge base and look for other ways to join corporations using the skills you have in a slightly different manner.


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