Legal Market

Staff spurts

One of the outcomes of mergers between law firms this year was the establishment of a number of staffing records: in particular, the partner membership of a Ukrainian law firm exceeded 25 persons for the first time. The number of transitions and promotions reached a historically high level as well. At the same time, the requirements for lawyers is constantly increasing, and the list of competencies required for employment is expanding.


The year 2018 appeared sufficiently saturated in terms of human resources, with a large number of partner level transitions (including sensational mergers of law firms), mass internal promotions, and migration of lawyers to the authorities and then their return. The blurring of distinctions between classical and business attorneys is continuing, which is facilitated by the demand for the services of criminal law practice and the introduction of the exclusive right of attorneys to acts as judicial representives. Advocacy in the  business segment of the legal market is carried out both by means of involvement of attorneys in law firms and thanks to the activity of lawyers of law firms in obtaining the right to practice law, insofar as permitted by the capacity of qualification bodies of the Bar. The quality of legal education and transformation of the profession under the influence of rapid IT-ization of the service sector remain on the agenda.

According to the data obtained in the course of the "Top 50 Leading Law Firms of Ukraine in 2018" survey, 54.1% of top lawyers have been working at the present place of work for more than three years, and every third — more than five years. 19.4% lawyers have been working in present positions for less than 12 months; this is more than in the previous year, which means that the personnel market has become more active. At the same time, there is also a staff growing of leading law firms in Ukraine — 62.3% of lawyers have total legal experience of more than five years, and 36.1% of them in excess of  ten years. The number of specialists possessing more than 15 years of experience reached 15.9%. On the other hand, the market is actively fuelled by young members of staff; 19.7% of lawyers of leading law firms (that is, one in five) have less than three years of professional experience.

By the way, the requirements for lawyers on the personnel market have not for a long time now been limited to purely legal competencies and knowledge of foreign languages. A modern lawyer should be not only a specialist in a particular area of law, but also a professional who understands the peculiarities of the client's business well. An increasing number of tasks put before lawyers lie in the cross-functional plane. Today, it is not enough to know only the "letter of the law". In addition to specific knowledge, any specialist in the labor market (and lawyers are not the exception) should possess certain personal qualities, so-called soft skills (negotiation skills, business communication skills, teamwork, personnel management, work with an array of data). From among the factors influencing the development of the legal profession, there is also the noticeable impact of information technologies, including mobility, volumes and speed of information exchange, distribution of Legal Tech solutions. It is not only futurologists that think about what the lawyer of the future will be like, and in what proportion of his competences between actual law, management, engineering, programming, etc. will be divided.

Getting back to statistics, we note that one of the outcomes of high-profile mergers between law firms this year was the increase in the average number of lawyers in a law firm. Moreover, the number of partners of Ukrainian law firms exceeded 25 people for the first time. Ten law firms reported having more than 50 lawyers. But due to the fact that market conditions have changed little, a team with 25-30 lawyers will be enough for successful conduct of legal business in Ukraine, and half their number will be enough to succeed in boutique specialization.

The firms listed in the top 50 leading law firms in Ukraine have an average of five to six partners. Seven firms announced partnerships with ten or more partners. One law firm has nine partners. There are also five teams on the market, each with eight partners and eight with seven partners. At the same time, the top 50 includes law firms with two or three partners.