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. When the job market is buoyant, candidate registrations go down. Jobs are in plentiful supply and candidates are happy in their current roles unless firms offer more money. Last May, this was the case – the job market was extremely busy.
When job market conditions are poor, candidate registrations & job applications usually go up. In May 2023, market conditions are declining, yet our statistics show a 33% drop in new candidate registrations compared with last year.
This is very unusual – and it will be interesting to see how the market plays out over the summer. It is expected that the mortgage interest rates will dampen the property market, but it is uncertain whether conveyancing work will drop significantly as a result, or just decline a small percentage.
Locum Recruitment – Quiet
May and June are usually our busiest months of the year. We are often flat out handling holiday leave cover, increased capacity cover and extensive recruitment replacement cover. This year the market is very different. Whilst we have picked up regular locum assignments throughout the month we are down about 50% on the same month last year. Whilst 2022 was quite exceptional for recruitment (there was a shortage of locums last summer due to demand), it is still the current trend for firms to be cautious about potential workload when booking assignments in.
Locum assignment updates here: https://www.interimlawyers.co.uk/category/locum-solicitor-updates/
We have just conducted a sweep of old vacancies to update them, which will skew our statistics for June 2023, but in May we saw a steady trickle of new permanent vacancies, but not the anticipated increase in the numbers of candidates applying for these vacancies. Candidates seem to be looking very nervously at the market and thinking carefully before jumping ship. Last person in, first out, tends to be the driving factor here. Until there is a bit more of a settled period, both politically and economically, recruitment will remain difficult.
Vacancies can be viewed here: https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/vacancies/
Law Firms for Sale – Busy
Business brokerage work continues to be virtually completely unconnected to the rest of the economy. The summer is a quiet period of new listings, but we are in the process of completing on a number of deals (10 are going through at present post-HoT signing) and three have completed in the last week. The market remains busy for new enquiries. Plenty of ‘kicking tyres’ enquiries, but similarly a lot of new genuine interest as firms look to expand and individuals seek to build empires!
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 email@example.com
Ten Percent Group statistics for May 2023 (May 2022 in brackets)
New locum roles added – 24 (47)
New permanent roles added – 15 (35)
New candidates added – 22 (36)
KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK 8th June 2023
Permanent placements fall further, temp billings growth eases
Strongest rise in candidate numbers since end of 2020
Starting salary inflation slips to 25-month low
Commentary from Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK
“The jobs market remains subdued, with the latest survey results showing dampened
hiring activity amid ongoing economic concerns. Overall vacancy growth slowed for the third month as businesses delayed hiring decisions, and permanent staff appointments fell for the eighth month in a row as many employers stick to temps.”
Commentary from Neil Carberry REC CEO
“We’ve been hearing more and more about differences between sectors in hiring rates
over the past few months, and today’s data really highlights this. While hospitality, healthcare and engineering remain strong, construction, IT and retail are all weakening. Despite the overall temporary work market continuing to grow – and permanent hiring declining from the sugar rush of 2022 – the story can vary widely across different businesses as their economic outlook remains unclear.”