In-House Legal Talent Trends: Data Privacy and Security

May 24, 2024

A Closer Look at Recent Legal Talent Trends in Data Privacy and Security

In the fast-evolving world of legal services, staying ahead of trends supports effective decision making. As leaders in corporate legal departments, it’s beneficial to understand the dynamics shaping demand for legal talent. Early indication of trends allows for proactive strategy development, ensuring that organizations are well-equipped to handle emerging legal challenges and opportunities.

As a provider of flexible contract attorneys, Latitude is in a unique position to observe talent market patterns before they fully develop. This advanced insight allows us to help our clients navigate dynamic demands swiftly by providing highly skilled, top-quality attorneys on a flexible or permanent basis.

Recent legal talent market observations from Latitude’s first quarter of this year, for example, revealed an intriguing trend: a slight decline in demand for flexible data privacy and security engagement attorneys compared with the same period last year. Yet, anecdotal evidence suggests the ongoing importance of expertise in data privacy and security within corporate organizations.

Data privacy and security is a complex and constantly changing regulatory environment and companies need to ensure that they remain compliant. The increasing incidence of data breaches, the introduction of stricter regulations, and new risks from technologies like artificial intelligence further amplify the need for in-house attorneys skilled in data protection, cybersecurity, and privacy law.

Examining both the quantitative data from Latitude’s first quarter and qualitative anecdotal evidence together suggests to us data privacy and security attorneys remain in high demand, but the strategies that organizations are using to meet their legal talent needs in this practice area are evolving.

Below, we explore some possible explanations for these shifting dynamics.

1. Level-Setting After Initial Demand Surge. Anecdotally, we saw a boom in demand for data privacy and security attorneys in the lead up to the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2020. As the compliance deadline for each regulation approached, companies needed to ensure they met the required compliance standards.

It’s possible that as more time passes following an initial boom and adjustment phase, the market is stabilizing. With GDPR and CCPA now firmly established, the specialized skills and experience initially sought after may have become integrated into broader role responsibilities of existing team members.

2. Preference for Full-Time In-House Expertise. Another plausible explanation could be growing emphasis on building long-term relationships and trust in this area of law, which is highly complex, continuously evolving, and subject to significant enforcement actions. In-house legal leaders may prioritize hiring full-time employees who not only possess the legal expertise but can also grow to have a deep understanding of the company’s business operations, helping navigate complex compliance requirements and mitigate risks long-term.

Cost savings may also be a factor. A growing percentage of legal departments are electing to insource work in an effort to control costs, and with the continuously shifting and growing nature of data privacy and security, legal department leaders may determine that having a full-time employee in-house is more cost-effective than outsourcing the outside counsel, depending on the nature and scale of work required.

Investing in internal talent that meets both the technical qualifications and aligns with the company’s culture and long-term goals offers additional advantages. This approach fosters a collaborative environment between legal and other business functions. When we work with clients for their direct-hire placements, we vet candidates for the clients’ desired experience and also for judgment, temperament, and cultural fit, because we’ve seen how these “soft skills” are equally important for both individual and team success.

While the recent data from Latitude saw a slight decline in demand for flexible data privacy and security engagement attorneys compared with early 2023, broader context and anecdotal evidence suggest that the need for expertise in the area remains robust. From this, we believe the market dynamics are shifting, with companies possibly stabilizing after the initial surge as new data privacy regulations came into effect or preferring to insource talent for long-term cost-effectiveness and integration.

As data privacy and security continue to be important concerns amid evolving regulations and technological advancements, corporate legal departments must strategically navigate these trends to ensure they remain complaint. Being attuned to evolving talent market dynamics can better position legal department leaders to support their organizations in navigating the complexities of data privacy and security in the years ahead.

Looking for top-tier data privacy and security attorneys for your legal team? Contact us to find the legal talent you need with Latitude.

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