Demand for consultants, lawyers at all-time high as companies chart out business transformation post pandemic


Professional services and strategy companies as well as leading law firms in India are on a hiring spree, as the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic makes it imperative for organisations across sectors to seek professional help to navigate through business transformation.

This is leading to an all-time high demand for consultants and lawyers even as hiring still continues to be muted in several other sectors as an aftermath of the pandemic, said industry experts.

Large professional service firms including the Big Four — Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG — have seen a 15-20% increase in hiring compared with the pre-pandemic times. The Big Four along with other strategy consulting firms such as Grant Thornton, BDO, BCG and McKinsey have hired around 20,000 professionals in the last 6-8 months, according to industry estimates. Top law firms have seen a 15-25% increase in hiring in the last 6-8 months, while the intake for the current year is expected to be even higher.

Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG together employ around 125,000 professionals in India and this is estimated to double in the next 2-3 years. Deloitte is planning to hire around 75,000 people in India in the next couple of years, Punit Renjen, the firm’s global CEO, told ET in a recent interaction.

Additionally, the Big Four are also set to hire around 20,000 executives — including freshers and lateral hires — in their captive units over the next few months.

“As several companies are realigning their businesses post pandemic, there is an increase in demand for talent internally. In the first four months of this fiscal, we have hired over 600 people per month. This includes both lateral and campus hires,” said Padmaja Alaganandan, chief people officer, PwC India. “Going ahead, we will continue to hire laterally while we increase our campus hiring and also engage with talent in the flexi workforce,” she added.

“We expect our hiring trajectory to continue given the optimistic economic environment, clients’ focus on value creation and a buoyant capital and transactions market,” EY India chief executive Rajiv Memani said.

In FY21, despite the pandemic, consulting companies had posted an average 2-3% increase in their revenue and in the current fiscal year, they are expected to match last year’s revenue or post 2-3% growth. This is leading to demand for talent in many of the new emerging areas of transformation.

“The hiring trend has seen a major upswing across levels especially for in-demand skills in cloud, data analytics, platforms, digital, cyber risk, IoT (Internet of things) and also in sector-specific skills,” said Sunit Sinha, partner and head – people, performance and culture, KPMG in India.

At the same time, an uptake in strategic M&A deals and private equity buy-outs, flow of investments into new-age tech businesses, consolidation and restructuring of large established businesses and transformation in employment and people policies and workplace restructuring has led to a big demand for lawyers.

“The entire digitisation process is also creating a new stream of lawyers. The top five law firms have hired over 250 professionals (laterals) in the last six months and partner moves have accounted for over 75 professionals in this period, some of whom have started off new firms,” said Lee Ignatius, partner and cofounder at legal talent management firm Vahura. “The huge demand for talent in specialised areas is also leading to a war for talent. While we’ve seen an average 10-20% compensation increase year-on-year, this year could see a marked correction across all levels,” he added.

Leading law firm Khaitan & Co has onboarded over 200 lawyers in the last six months.

“Our growth, both organic and inorganic, remains on a steady upward trajectory. While this is the primary driver for recruitment, the pandemic has also resulted in a marginally higher rate of attrition at mid to junior levels, so a portion of the recruitment is also to fill those gaps,” said Amar Sinhji, executive director, human resources, Khaitan & Co.

“Regulatory changes, digital disruption and emergence of new sectors such as renewable energy, e-vehicle, OTT and online gaming, cryptocurrency and blockchain have led companies, investors and even regulators to seek legal help, and have emerged as major growth drivers for law firms,” said Padmini Rathore, CEO of DSK Legal.

Some of the areas that are expected to see huge growth and more demand for legal talent include infrastructure (energy, transport, and mining/minerals), environment, speciality real estate, pharmaceuticals, digital media and IT/ ITeS, said Amit Kapur, joint managing partner, J Sagar Associates.

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