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July Eye on ESI Trends: Job Seekers Grab ‘N Go, Counteroffers Are Nonexistent

TRU Staffing Partners July 25, 2023 at 8:00 AM

This month’s Eye on ESI, a regular panel discussion presented jointly by TRU Staffing Partners and ACEDS, highlighted the key ediscovery industry employment trends happening this summer. The session brought together TRU’s Annette Habib, Sr. VP of Recruitment and Account Management, and Sarah Roberts, VP of Recruitment and Account Management along with ACEDS’ President Michael Quartararo and VP of Strategy and Client Engagement Maribel Rivera, who moderated the session.


Rivera started the session by asking Roberts what the current employment trends were in discovery.

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: If you tuned in last time, you’ll see that a lot of the trends have been pretty consistent, but we have a few new things to mention:
  • First, TRU is seeing that 92% of job seekers now accept the first offer that they're extended. Compared to this time last year, the percentage is wildly higher. 
  • No job seekers who received a job were made a counteroffer in Q2, and that stayed consistent. TRU hasn’t seen any counteroffers so far in the beginning of this quarter. 
  • No TRU contractors have been converted to full-time employees over the last 90 days. Usually, three out of five contractors are converted to full-time employment every month. 
  • •Another big trend that we're continuing to see is that fully remote job seekers are asking for (and expect to discuss) at least a 25% increase in base salary to even consider going into an office in a hybrid work situation of two or more days per week. 
Rivera: We had previously discussed that law firms were going to push more for three to four days in the office or insist that ediscovery pros come back fully back to the office. Are you starting to see that mandate push that out a little bit further?

Roberts: There's a difference between what the policy is and how the policy is enforced. We always recommend people ask those questions on an interview, the first being what is the policy, and then secondly, how is it enforced? We’ve heard that starting in Q4, people will be asked to go back more, but from the job seeker side, there is a barrier for entry for going into an office five days. Job seekers are willing to take less money to have a good quality of life and be able to stay remote. However, law firms are where the opportunities exist. So if you have an interest in pivoting to a new role and compensation is your main motivator, going into an office should be something that you'd expect.

Habib: Even though the law firm may have a policy, let's say, of three days a week in the office, the ediscovery hiring manager or leader may only insist on in-office presence for the first few months. So for that initial period of time, a new ediscovery pro might have to be in the office three times a week. But I think in time, it could be more like one or two days in the office. But they have to make the law firm policy the same throughout the firm regardless of the department or area.

Speed of Hire

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: The speed of hire hasn't changed. It's been consistent since last month. The hiring timeline is still faster than it was pre-pandemic. Most interviews are still being done virtually, even for hybrid positions, which has contributed to the interview process getting done faster. Executive searches are still 90 days from when a resume has been submitted to when an offer is made. It takes 45 days from mid-market, non-contract roles, and then 10 days for contract positions. Because so many people are taking the first offer they get, the speed of hire is important. For hiring managers, if there is a candidate they're really interested in bringing on board, being speedy helps secure a good outcome.

Salaries Remain Steady

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:  Law firm and the vendor average salaries really haven’t changed much over the past months. I think some of this plays a part in the 0% counteroffer trend. There’s the expectation of ranges like those above and there are existing hybrid policies in place. People have a better idea of what new roles in ediscovery look like going in and there’s less back and forth between the hiring managers and job seekers. 

Workforce Evolution Stills Favors Contract Work

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: Our workforce evolution has not changed much since the last Eye on ESI. Contracting now is more than half the market. What we will expect to see is more people willing to take contracts in order to get into organizations where they can't get in any other way. Many companies, in particular corporations, are leveraging contractors more than ever before. There are a lot of candidates who are willing to take that contract to see if they can get into that ediscovery corporate position that might be harder to get into otherwise. As you can see from this chart, there are still very few five-days-a-week positions available, and 96% are still hybrid or fully remote.

Quartararo: Have you observed a sort of seasonal component to contract work? Does it happen at a particular time of the year, or does it go up in certain fiscal quarters?

Roberts: That's a good question. Ever since COVID, this evolution of pendulum swings have stayed pretty consistent. TRU had predicted that contract numbers by now would be closer to 70%. So that's been a little bit lower than we had anticipated previously. In the beginning of the year or end of the year, it may swing up because people have budget left over or a huge influx of work. It depends on how these corporations are delivering budgets as well. 

Habib: There is somewhat of an uptick during the summer months as well as the holidays. I think that has a lot to do with employees being out on vacation during that time. They bring in contractors during that time to help with the workloads.

Rivera: You mentioned corporate roles. What kind of roles are you seeing as contract roles in the corporate space?

Roberts: A lot of roles we’re seeing right now on the corporate side are more privacy-related or there are roles within an ediscovery division of a large corporation. If you're an attorney working at a big tech company, there is lots of opportunity there to hire contract workers. Or if you're a privacy program manager or building out a global privacy division and maybe your headcount is going to open in January, but you have the work now and you need the work now so you can deliver budgets and use that budget differently. Hiring contractors in these situations is very useful. 

Be sure to tune in to the next Eye on ESI in August when TRU and ACEDS revisit all these ediscovery statistics and trends. And if you are ready to begin your next employment search for either full-time or contract work, be sure to check out the open roles TRU Staffing Partners features on our website. If you don’t see a current position that is right for you, submit your resume to start a conversation with our expert recruiters about upcoming career opportunities.

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