Legal Job Market Report January 2024
in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report January 2024

Legal Job Market Report from Ten Percent Legal Recruitment and Interim Lawyers Locum Legal Recruitment.

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

Locum Recruitment – Quiet

Locum work remains quiet, and looking at the statistics below new vacancies into us have halved compared with the same period last year. Conveyancing roles are few and far between still, but we have started to see an increase in assignment registrations. Now is a very good time of year to get assignments booked in, as locums seek to fill up their calendars. It doesn’t necessarily follow that locums are filling in their calendar with assignments – a lot of locums have a very good work/life balance and fill their time with non-work activities, but in order to get bookings confirmed as much notice as possible is always helpful.

If you are a locum with less than a few years’ locuming under your belt, it may be worth considering looking at permanent roles as well as locum, particularly for residential conveyancing. Alternatively, if you are keen to progress a locuming career, it may be worth thinking about taking roles requiring hotel stays, rather than just looking at remote or local assignments.

For employers it is interesting to note that we still have problems attracting candidates for office-based work, even when locums are chasing limited numbers of assignments. Remote and hybrid working assignments are considerably easier to fill, and at lower rates.

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

Permanent Recruitment – Busy

Busy in one sense, but again permanent recruitment is being affected by the huge gulf of expectations between candidates and employers. Candidates still look for a strong indication of a) flexible working patterns and b) some remote working. A good proportion of employers are still looking to recruit full time employees working 9am to 5.30pm in offices. Until this gap is bridged, recruitment is going to remain difficult. Remote and hybrid working has a huge difference in response rates.

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

New Candidate Registrations – 100% increase

Candidate registrations are a very good indicator for market conditions. Increasing numbers of candidates register with us when the market is going down, and drop when the market is on the up. Numbers remain up by about 100% compared with the previous year. New locums have remained high in number.

Law Firms for Sale – Busy

Usual story – everyone has thought about buying law firms over the christmas break, so lots going on! Deals going through, advanced talks are progressing and the market is now busy. 55 law firms currently for sale, with a few more coming through the pipeline.

Full details of firms currently for sale on our website – list updated daily. 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 Nov 1st to Dec 31st 2023 (2022 figures in brackets)

New locum roles added – 23 (42)
New permanent roles added – 48 (47)
New candidates added – 92 (41)

KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK – January 2024

Slower falls in both permanent placements and temp billings
Rates of pay growth pick up from November lows
Candidate supply continues to rise sharply

Commentary from Justine Andrew, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK
“It’s a muted end to the year for the labour market, which despite some loosening during 2023, continues to be tight. While the data for December shows hiring activity for both permanent and temporary roles fell at a softer rate than the previous month, businesses are still making redundancies and pausing hiring due to a lacklustre economic outlook. This has driven a further decline in permanent job opportunities, while we continue to see a rising number of people looking for new work. For those lucky enough to start a new role there was another sharp increase in starting salaries due to competition for skilled workers. But the rise wasn’t as high as those seen in recent months as businesses face ongoing pressure on
their budgets. Recruiters tell us this pressure is now impacting temporary contracts, with fewer
people employed on a short-term basis.”

Commentary from Neil Carberry REC CEO
“The slowdown in our labour market seems to be easing a bit. Given that December is a time when employers generally postpone activity into the new year, this is a positive sign that the labour market is weathering the current economic storm. Recruiters went into 2024 with hope that an upturn is coming, based on feedback from clients.”

Hourly Rates of Pay for Locum Solicitors and Legal Executives

January 2024 Locum Hourly Rates – Solicitors and Legal Executives

NB: Remote Working Role rates are about 10% lower.

Civil Litigation – £30-£40 per hour
Commercial Contract – £35-£75 per hour
Commercial Litigation – £35-£75 per hour
Company Commercial – £50-£90 per hour
Construction (non-contentious) £60-£75, (contentious) £45-£60 per hour
Conveyancing – £35-£45 per hour
Commercial Property – £35-£50 per hour
Employment Solicitors – £45-50 per hour
Family Solicitors (Legal Aid) – £30-£35 per hour
Family Solicitors (Private) – £35-£50 per hour
Family (Child Care LA) – £35-£45 per hour
Immigration Lawyers – £30-£55 per hour
In House Counsel: 0-3 years PQE – £35-£50 per hour
In House Counsel: 3+ years PQE – £50-£95 per hour
In House Interim Lawyers (SMEs) – £60-£85 per hour
Insolvency – £50-£55 per hour
IP – £55-80 per hour
Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence – 3+ years PQE – £35-£50 per hour
Professional Negligence – £45-£55 per hour
Property Litigation – £40-£50 per hour
Wills & Probate – £40-£55 per hour

We have an online calculator to convert hourly rates to salary equivalents – click here.

NB all rates exclude agency fees. The rates are for self-employed locums billing firms directly on a weekly basis. These are the ranges we have seen over the last 30 days from assignments.

Salary Guide – January 2024

Each month we publish a list of any salary levels we become aware of from employers in relation to jobs offered and salaries indicated.

January 2024 Guide

These are the salaries we have had indicated by law firms to us for 3 years PQE and upwards. London figures in brackets where relevant.

Commercial
In House Solicitor (General) – £80k – £120k (£85k-140k)
Commercial Litigation – £45-£65k (£50k-£90k)
Corporate Commercial – £50k-£150k (£65k-£175k)
Construction – £65k-£95k
Commercial Property – £55k-£85k
Insolvency – £55k-£75k
IP – £50k-£90k
Professional Negligence – £45k-£65k

High Street
Crime – £40-45k
Civil Litigation – £40k-£60k
Conveyancing £35k-£55k
Employment Solicitors – £35k-£55k
Family Solicitors – £35k-£50k
Immigration Lawyers – £35k-£45k
Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence £30k-£55k
Property Litigation – £45k-£60k
Wills & Probate – £45k-£60k

Support Staff
Office Manager – £40-60k
Legal Cashier – £30-35k
Senior legal accounts professional – £35k-45k
Secretary – £22-28k
Paralegal – £22-27k

Candidate Salary Expectations

Candidate salary expectations are very often higher than salaries being paid to existing staff within a law firm with less than a £2 million turnover. We regularly view staff lists when valuing law firms via our business broker service, and the salaries being paid by law firms to existing staff are invariably lower than candidate salary expectations for similar roles.

Salary Level Assistance

If you would like assistance with salary levels, please contact our specialist permanent recruiter, Peter Gresty FIRP. Email pete.gresty@ten-percent.co.uk

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