Back to blogs

Midwest Legal Recruitment Market Update

Posted on December 2020 By Nesreen Ballut

Blog Img

As we reach the end of the 2020 year, the pandemic and various financial conditions have affected certain areas of the Midwest legal market. However, despite various setbacks, the legal hiring market is showing signs of increased activity in particular markets and is remaining steady during this challenging time. It is without a doubt that businesses and their directors are navigating new, and unfamiliar business-critical matters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Business across every sector have changed the way the work and attorneys (both in-house and private practice) have pivoted slightly with their hiring practices with remote work and virtual interview sessions in order to tackle some of the largest needs that the Midwest is experiencing. With respect to interview and hiring formats, businesses are interviewing and onboarding new associate hires remotely and have gone above and beyond to welcome new hires into their legal departments.

In a recent survey reported from, 20% of reported law firms have either already laid off staff or expect to lay off staff. On the contrary, almost an equal percentage (18%) of firms expect to continue to hire staff as we head into 2021 while the rest remain steady. Although most sectors are sectors are experiencing challenges, some sectors are directly impacted due to physical-distancing measures such as Hotel and Airline businesses as they experience a decline in demand. Additionally, the Oil & Gas industry has always been the foundation of our society’s operations, until the pandemic shifted this industry into one that has become less of a necessity. Other sectors such as healthcare/pharma, sanitation, and grocery are seeing an accelerated increase in demand. In addition to these sectors, we are seeing an uptick in start-ups with strategic and innovative hiring needs. Here are the top hottest markets in legal in the midst of the pandemic:

Labor & Employment

With a number of labor and employment changes happening this year, the need for Employment Law attorneys has spiked across the Midwest and the nation at large. In an effort to keep employees safe, many businesses have implemented new workplace safety protocols as listed in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 control measures.

As we prepare to step into 2021 and the arrival of a vaccine in sight, mitigating risks and evaluating employee leave matters are rapidly changing the way we view our benefits and leave entitlements.

Intellectual Property

When dealing with challenging times and especially during a crisis, there are often innovations that are a dire necessity and thus, new and critical innovations are born. With this in mind, business and cybersecurity insurance, trademarks, patents, copyrights, and contract protection for IP has seen a sharp increase in need across all industries.

As 2020 has proven to many, the Life Sciences industry, particularly the medical technologies and biopharmaceuticals industries, have continued to evolve amidst the 2020 pandemic. This particular industry and the companies within it are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 to create, test, produce and disseminate a vaccine. However, with an increase in remote work, it has been interesting to see the rapid adoption of more telehealth methods and virtual clinical trials, and in turn has increased legal hiring in these areas, making for a brighter 2021 for the industry.


Some firms have conducted layoffs while providing a few months of lead time in order to find new opportunities, while other Midwest restructuring groups have absorbed M&A and finance counsel. This is an excellent opportunity for attorneys to diversify their experience in this particular space and take on new challenges that will better shape them after the pandemic and assist with overall upward mobility in various areas of the law.

If you or anyone in your network is interested in a potential transition or are looking to grow your legal team in 2021, feel free to reach out to Nesreen Ballut or India McGary, or contact the Selby Jennings team for a confidential discussion.