Meanwhile, corporate legal departments are expanding to support new business activities and address complex data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union and California’s Consumer Law.
Larger offices like Benesch also hire or promote executive-level talent for non-lawyers to keep up with trends that have dominated the industry for decades. President and CEO Kevin Fitzpatrick came to Benesch 35 years ago with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and established the company as a construction management consultant in the city of Chicago. Former production manager John Banks has been appointed Chief Operating Officer at Benesch’s Cleveland site, underscoring the expanded business focus across the industry.
“Every large company does things the way a business school would teach a company to operate,” said Gross. “Lawyers have run their own law firms for the past few years, but now business aspects are being taken over by people with these skills.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for legal professions was $ 81,820 in May 2019, with associate-level positions, including paralegal and paralegal, over $ 51,000 annually. While Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Dean Lee Fisher expects companies to remain conservative in hiring until the pandemic recedes, the next wave of non-attorney jobs doesn’t necessarily require a law doctorate.
“Students could review documents as opposed to jobs that require a JD,” Fisher said. “They don’t need a degree, but they do need these organizational, project and technical skills.”
Freelancers complement the existing workforce, allowing workers to work from home and employers to move up or down quickly. Benesch hires electronic discoveries and research in large cases and hires consultants for other projects.
“There’s no guarantee that a project will last more than a few years,” said Fisher. “Work is dwindling, so it makes more sense to hire employees based on temporary customer needs.”
When hiring resumes after COVID, organizations seeking skilled workers will resort to fit and culture, said Olbinsky of Pivot Growth Partners.
“It’s the idea of being in crisis and the tough choices you have to make,” she said. “The coronavirus highlighted this. ‘These are our values, we have to do this.’ “”