HR departments took a hit during the bleak times seen in 2008 and 2009 however the outlook seems positive as the market is without a doubt in a better place now than it was 12 months ago, yet it is still to reach the peak it achieved pre-recession.
The legal sector appears to have suffered the most as HR roles in the market have been few and far between, in contrast the marketing, business development and general management have taken less of the impact.
There is still some hesitation from law firms when recruiting however the vast majority are looking ahead positively. This insecurity has affected employers causing each potential hire to receive a large amount of scrutiny in the recruitment process. However candidates are also nervous about making a move from the relative safety of their current firms. HR professionals have seen the direct effects of cutback and redundancies causing them to be the sector with more caution.
During the tough period of uncertainty those HR teams and individuals who have stepped up to offer proper strategic advice have done themselves and their function a great deal of good. Their key priorities should include; attracting and getting the best talent and building career development to retain the best talent. This will emphasise the affect their role has for the future and ensure their position.
The legal world is about to enter a huge period of change with the implementation of the Legal Services Act. HR will be heavily involved in this as cut backs in legal aid are expected along with the ability for non-lawyers to enter the arena of providing legal services. Despite the issues HR professionals have faced in the last 18 months, they may get a long-term gain in the shape of a higher level of respect for what they do and what they can bring to the law firm management table.