in Careers Advice, Employers, Job Applications, Legal Profession

General Practice Solicitors – do they exist?

Do General Practice Solicitors still exist?

At one time general practice solicitors (ie a solicitor who is able to work in a number of different areas of law) were scorned and firms avoided recruiting them. Times have changed and they are back in demand. So do they still exist? Yes, in a nutshell, but they tend to fit into the following three categories:

1. Solicitors who qualified pre-1990.
2. Solicitors who have worked for/as/with sole practitioners in small high street firms.
3. Solicitors looking to change areas of law and seek to ‘big up’ experience they have of other types of law they may have covered a bit in their career to date.

When you look at legal CVs there is quite clearly a change in approach from the 1990s and onwards. Before this it was very common for solicitors at a good number of practices, large and small, to undertake work in a range of fields of law. So for example a good number of conveyancing solicitors also dealt with wills & probate.

However since 1990 there are very few solicitors who are genuine all rounders – ie carry a mixed caseload of two specific areas of law.

Quite a few firms are starting to advertise roles like these with us – it seems to be centred around not having enough to justify a fee earner in one particular area of law, but if they take on someone able to deal with two they can keep them occupied. Alternatively we quite often get asked for locum solicitors who can cover more than one area of law.

Both of these types of recruitment are hard to deal with. Candidates exist, but not in great numbers. We have just under 300 locum conveyancing solicitors and ILEX registered with us, but probably only 5 of these are able to cover conveyancing and wills & probate vacancies. There are around 250 family locums but only 2 of these can do family and conveyancing. On the permanent side there are over 950 wills & probate candidates registered with us but only about 50 of these do wills & probate and litigation.

A better way of recruiting for general practice is to consider taking on part time staff. After all, you get a lot for your money with part timers – they usually put more into the hours they work than full time fee earners – mainly because they have to!

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk