Legal Job Market Report August 2023
in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report August 2023

Here is our summary of the current state of the UK legal job market.

New Candidate Registrations

Candidate registrations are usually a good indicator for market conditions. As indicated in the last newsletter, new candidates register with us when the market is going down, and that has continued to be the case throughout June and July. Numbers are up, but it is nothing dramatic. In the past we have seen over 120-150 new solicitors a month registering with us – last month we saw 37 new candidates. New locums have increased in number, but as the bellwether indicator for the market, numbers of new lawyers registering for locum work are not yet demonstrating anything of note.

Locum Recruitment – Quiet

July has been incredibly quiet on the locum side. Last year was just crazy, but this year we have seen a decline in the number of property locum roles (usually June and July are the peak months for conveyancing cover), longer term cover in other departments and in particular in house counsel cover. We are not exactly twiddling our thumbs, but the decline in bookings is noticeable. We hear from our locums that this is the same across other agencies, although most agencies are unlikely to admit it if you ask them!

Locum assignment updates here: https://www.interimlawyers.co.uk/category/locum-solicitor-updates/

Permanent Recruitment

Permanent roles remain in the same confused space of candidates looking for work but not committing to roles and firms having vacancies but not wanting to commit to paying the salaries for fear of what may be around the corner! In house roles tend to be a good test – how long a company prevaricate for on a new potential hire. Short term delay means the market is busy and department heads can see the need, long term delay means at least one department is nervous about taking on staff and everything gets held up.

Vacancies can be viewed here: https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/vacancies/

Law Firms for Sale – Busy

Law firm sales remain busy. Lots of enquiries, meetings, offers, counteroffers and new firms enquiring about selling or merging. As we approach the mass PII renewal date at the end of September we anticipate extremely high levels of work and interest for all firms listed.

Full details of firms currently for sale at https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk/law-accountancy-firms-for-sale/. For valuations, exit planning or a confidential discussion about a potential sale or acquisition generally please ring 01824 780937 and speak to Jonathan Fagan or email jf@jonathanfagan.co.uk

Ten Percent Group statistics for July 2023 (July 2022 in brackets)

New locum roles added – 18 (47)
New permanent roles added – 24 (31)
New candidates added – 37 (29)

KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK 2023

Permanent placements fall at quickest rate since June 2020
Upturn in candidate availability gathers pace
Pay pressures ease only slightly amid rising cost of living

Commentary from Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK
“The latest survey results reflect the current Summer weather – damp, but with some possible
bright skies on the horizon. Recruiters told us that their clients aren’t yet confident enough in the economic outlook to commit to permanent hires, leading to the steepest pace of decline in placements since June 2020. Conversely, the growth in billings for temporary workers weakened last month as job hunters hold out for permanent roles. Businesses are also still freezing hiring, with some redundancies, which led to the sharpest upturn in labour supply since December 2020. This is good news for recruiters who have an even larger pool of candidates to place, but with the number of vacancies available increasing at the slowest pace for nearly two and a half years, supply and demand are once again off balance.”

Commentary from Neil Carberry REC CEO
“The jobs market overall remains fairly robust, with vacancies and pay still rising and unemployment low but there is a sense in today’s report that the economy will need some growth soon to sustain this positive picture. Permanent hiring has been slowing all year. To some extent this is normalisation as the post-pandemic boom abates – but it is also driven by uncertainty. This is seen in the scale of companies reshaping themselves while hiring in other areas – recruiters report that the quickest rise in labour supply since the pandemic has been driven by an increase in redundancies. But it is also obvious in the way firms are relying on temporary labour to keep things going in uncertain times. Hiring overall is still at a good level, and some sectors remain under pressure from significant labour shortages, including hospitality and construction.”

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 20 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.ten-percent.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk