TRU Trends: September 2021

Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS)

The number one trend TRU predicted in January’s “Top 10 Job Market Predictions in Legal Technology” is becoming prominent to the point of hyperbole: 1. Speed Wins War for Talent. ESI vendor hiring cycles have been dramatically shortened in 2021. We alerted “TRU Trends” readers to an accelerated cycle in the May edition of this blog—but the average time from resume submission to offer extended for mid-market talent such as project managers and analysts has shrunk to a lightning-fast eight business days. Cycles for the same positions at law firms are moving the other direction, now taking upwards of six to ten weeks. The reason for this is clear: in January, law firms were 90% work-from-home; that stat dropped to 20% in September.

Simply put, most law firms are expecting staff employees to be in-office some or all of the time; however, the talent pool is largely uninterested for a wide variety of reasons ranging from rejecting vaccine and mask mandates to fear of infection, to simply preferring the WFH lifestyle. Talent willing to entertain offers from vendors and law firms alike is essentially having their decisions made for them—choosing perpetual work-from-home jobs over same or higher-paying in-office jobs. Expect to see law firms leaning on contract talent that can operate outside the in-office and vaccine mandates to bridge the gap.

Finally, yes, more corporations are buying ESI software than ever before. Do not mistake the rapid growth of corporate e-discovery technology adoption as a harbinger of in-house corporate e-discovery hiring to come. TRU’s perspective indicates most of these job openings still exist at vendors and law firms. The common corporate positions available are trending further left: collections, preservations, or processing skill sets, or general project management. Corporate ESI leadership roles are proving rare, with corporations preferring to promote or transition talent internally (taking advantage of existing employees’ knowledge of systems and data practices) versus acquiring external e-discovery talent.

As Q3 2021 closes, TRU can still say that the last nine months remain the most active in history in terms of the volume of opportunities available and the amount of candidate movement in the job market. That won’t change in Q4. Expect more of the same with employers and job seekers slowly finding middle ground to fill all open positions before the end of the year.

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Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS)
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