Legal Job Market Update April 2015
March was busy. This is quite normal as we get near to Easter and the end of the financial year for a lot of firms. The locum market picks up with a good number of short term assignments coming in as well as more summer bookings. Permanent vacancies also increase annually at this time as partners have time to reflect on staffing levels and make plans for the coming months.
Permanent vacancies have been of good quality – the average job strength has increased to 3.5 for March and this is a good sign of a healthy recruitment market.
We still think that in 2015 we will be seeing salary levels going up, although a number of firms seem to be living in the 1980s at times when it comes to job offers and hourly rates. Last week we received a telephone call from a law firm based at a home office in a London house worth £3 million looking to avoid paying £35 an hour for a locum to cover for a few weeks.
Conveyancing has gone a bit quieter although still made up 33% of our vacancies for March. Locum roles were busy for a week or two before Easter but have now dropped off again. Locum availability is currently quite good although we expect this to change as the month progresses.
Wills & Probate is a difficult area to recruit for on the permanent side unless at NQ level. On the locum side we have seen an increase in availability from consultants, which is the first time this has happened since 2012.
Commercial property is very similar. I sense a growing number of vacancies going unfilled as there is such a dearth of candidates for them. In particular there is a dearth of applicants prepared to work for the wages being offered. We have seen some availability increases on the locum side.
Family law remains quiet for permanent roles. Locum work has increased a little bit in the last few months.
Crime is almost non-existent. However this month we have a two year contract just in for the Falkland Islands, starting in September. A few brave firms have registered requirements for duty solicitors before the next rota deadline (May 1st) but not much movement at the moment.
Litigation – both civil and commercial still very quiet. The same applies for corporate commercial.
Employment law work has picked up a little. A few vacancies have trickled in but still not much.
March 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies busy, Commercial Property vacancies very busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies up
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – still very few
* Family vacancies – up
* Market outlook – increasing.
Current live vacancies: 562
New permanent vacancies added last month: 39
New locum vacancies added last month: 36
New candidates registering: 129
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies last month: 3.5 (strong)
Increase/Decrease in new vacancies from previous month: +50%
Increase/Decrease in new candidates from previous month: +33%
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment publishes the number of new vacancies, new candidates and indicate the increase or decrease from the previous month. We aim to assist the legal profession by showing the market from our perspective. Traditionally our clients have been high street law firms and smaller niche commercial practices.
The average job strength gives a good indication of the market because:
1. A Poor Job Strength on vacancies indicates a struggling market. When trade is bad, employers seek options for increasing turnover which usually also involves contacting recruitment agencies in the hope that they have candidates with their own following and not looking for a salary.
2. A Strong Job Strength on vacancies indicates a buoyant market, particularly if it is in connection with an increase in numbers of new vacancies.
Vacancies are each graded 1-5, with 5 being a very strong vacancy and 1 being a very weak vacancy.
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes for the Ten-Percent website and the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of our websites.
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