What does 2023 hold in store for freelance lawyers?

Freelance lawyer? Top trends and growth areas in the flexible legal sector

As we look ahead to a new year, Laura Vosper, Head of Talent at Obelisk Support and Jane Leader, Recruitment Manager, look at some of the trends and growth areas for freelance lawyers in the flexible legal service sector.

# Keeping businesses safe: data privacy and data protection

With GDPR in force and further developments in related legislation in other jurisdictions – and post-Brexit – on the way, almost all businesses need help from lawyers with experience in data privacy.

We predict that this will only continue in 2023 and beyond, as the increase in the use of automation means that businesses host an increasingly complex range of stakeholder data.

As well as specialist advice, we are also seeing demand for data protection experts who are able to manage compliance programmes and the implementation and maintenance of tools such as One Trust and the processes and policies that underpin them.

# Helping clients exploit IT/technology to its fullest

Post-pandemic and in a time of economic uncertainty, companies are increasingly looking to automate and invest in technology. This means that there are lots of projects involving complex purchasing and contracting, where mixing commercial acumen with specialist knowledge of IT/technology best practices will enable freelance lawyers to help clients get the best from their suppliers.

In particular, developing an understanding of the legal considerations in projects involving emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain will help increase the marketability of any commercial lawyer looking to specialise in this area.

# Delivering company secretarial and governance work

Whether it’s by supporting teams post-acquisition with the company secretarial work involved in running a growing group of companies or taking the pressure off for smaller in-house teams by taking over board minutes etc, lawyers with a corporate law background and experience of delivering company secretarial procedures are very much in demand.

Strong stakeholder management skills are essential here, so professionals who can evidence high EQ and influencing ability can boost their earnings.

# Boosting busy finance in-house teams

With the largest UK banks running in-house teams that are larger than most law firms, we predict that there will continue to be no shortage of opportunities for banking and finance lawyers in 2023.

We’ve seen growing demand from retail and investment banks looking for lawyers with experience in structured finance, structured products and derivatives. Freelance lawyers in this area are typically valued not just for their niche expertise but also for their ability to pick up new systems and procedures at pace.

# Powering financial crime and fraud investigations

One of the less pleasant consequences of the pandemic has been a rise in financial crime and fraud, leading to increased demand for lawyers who specialise in contentious financial services regulatory matters, conducting internal investigations and advising on processes to minimise future risks.

# Working as an all-rounder rather than a specialist?

The good news is that there is still strong demand for general commercial lawyers with strong in-house experience. Working with freelance and consultant lawyers, either on a secondment or project basis, is a great way for clients to maximise their budgets and manage work without losing time to extensive recruitment processes.

Consultant lawyers who make sure their CV highlights two or three significant achievements from their in-house experience and put the stress on their adaptability and open mind will unlock the opportunities that are out there. Those who can commit to roles on a four-day a week plus basis and have the flexibility to work at least part of the week onsite with clients will increase the range of opportunities available.

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