Legal Job Market Report February 2023
in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report February 2023

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

Locum Recruitment – Quiet
Locum work has dramatically declined in the last 8 weeks, although it does seem to have got very busy in the last few days! There are considerably lower numbers of assignments being registered with us at the moment. Between December 1st and January 31st we had 24 assignments added. The previous year the figure was 52, which means that numbers have more than halved. Most of this decline is down to the property market, as one of the biggest sectors for locum work in the legal profession is conveyancing cover. We have seen increased numbers of locums register with us (mostly conveyancing lawyers). The regularity of these candidate registrations has not been seen since 2019.

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

Permanent Recruitment – Quiet
Salaried work has not seen the same drop in jobs being registered, but we are still over 25% down on last year. There are more candidates looking for work at the moment, and indeed our specialist permanent consultant expressed surprise last week at the numbers of applicants for a couple of recent roles. There has and remains a reluctance to move jobs in the current climate, which is very understandable. Uncertainty leads to a preference from a lot of lawyers to understandable stick with a job they may not like for now on the basis of its ‘better the devil you know’!

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

Law Firms for Sale – Quiet
Traditionally this is the quietest time of the year for law firm sales & mergers, and this has remained the usual drop over Christmas and into the new year. We have not seen any large increases in firms looking for quick sales, but then the law firm market never seems to mirror the economy. We do however anticipate an increase in interest from property-orientated firms in other types of firm as they seek to branch out. Similarly we will be seeing an increase in bargain hunters out to acquire property firms at low prices/nothing.

Full list of firms 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 December 2022 – January 2023 (previous year in brackets)

New contract roles added – 24 (52)
New permanent roles added – 52 (78)
New candidates added – 43 (67)

KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK January 10th 2023

Summary
Permanent placements decline again
Temp billings continue to expand modestly
Softer rise in vacancies, as staff supply declines at weaker rate

Commentary from Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK
“The challenging economic environment continues to constrain the jobs market, as December’s data shows. The ongoing industrial relations turmoil in many sectors, along with the scarcity of available staff in all sectors, means that wage inflation may soften only slightly in the near term. Yet, at the same time, vacancy growth rates are trending down again this month from a historically high peak in July 2021, as employers continue to rein in permanent hiring
and employees choose to stay put. Overall, the jobs market looks less than rosy at the start of 2023, so employers who hold their nerve and continue to invest in skills in particular are likely to benefit most when the economic upturn comes.”

Commentary from Neil Carberry, REC CEO
“A slowdown in permanent placements is not unusual in December, but this one comes as part of a wider softening trend in the permanent market. Recruiters tell us that this was enhanced by firms pushing hiring activity back into January in the face of high inflation and economic uncertainty. The big test of the labour market will come this month. But overall activity levels remain high, with vacancies and starting rates of pay still growing. There is also plenty of demand for temporary workers, which is less affected by employer’s long-term confidence. The overall picture is still of a robust labour market, although contraction in sectors such as construction is a particular concern given its significance to the health of the economy. As we move into 2023, the need to ensure our labour market can deliver economic growth and prosperity should be a critical concern to politicians. People telling recruiters that they are increasingly anxious about moving jobs is a concern in this regard – as a move is a great way to boost pay and build up skills. If people are less willing to move jobs, this could make shortages worse in the near term.”

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