Job Market Update – March 5th
Also viewable as part of the Legal Recruitment Newsletter at www.legal-recruitment.co.uk
The job market has been hijacked in February by outstanding skiing conditions in France. I have to confess spending a pleasant week in the Alps enjoying the steady fall of fresh powder every morning and discovering the joys of French wi-fi in the evenings to keep up with clients and work. At the same time recruitment is never helped whenever politicians talk about the prospects of a triple dip recession. I wait with great excitement for 2015 to arrive so I can hear politicians talking about a quintuplet dip recession…
This month’s market report is broken down into four sections, as there is quite a wide disparity between our various lines of work.
LSC areas of work
There are still plenty of firms out there struggling to survive on the various trainee plumber rates being paid by the LSC for highly qualified legal work (not that any bias has crept into this writing). A whole tranche of smaller firms signed up to the most latest round of family contract awards and ended up with a miniscule number of matter starts. I doubt very much whether a lot of firms will have been able to arrange for an LSC family supervisor to actually work for them in view of the small number of cases they have been given.
With redundancies in the past 6 weeks at a number of larger firms still paying salaries of £35k or more to senior crime solicitors, I suspect we may have reached the end of the line for LSC funded work to be a viable career option for more junior solicitors to even contemplate.
We have been through deadlines for LSC contracts in the past two months in family law, housing, debt and immigration. The supervisors required for immigration law contracts are virtually impossible to find (IAAS Level 3). Housing and Family supervisors still exist in good numbers, but the number of firms who can actually afford them is another matter entirely! If you have a need for a contract supervisor, let us know.
Crime is coming up again and the next CDS12 duty solicitor deadline is May 14th (as far as we know). Duty solicitors are finding it increasingly hard to get salaried posts at any firm in the country now – most firms are trying to either comply with the LSC terms for salaried duty solicitors only, or alternatively they are just ignoring the LSC and continuing with the self-employed staff on a monthly retainer plus hourly rate. I remain sceptical as to whether the LSC actually have the resources left to bother going after firms who supposedly ‘flout’ their unworkable regulation. We have a large number of duty solicitors available this year including those looking to work in other industries for the majority of the time and just do the minimum required to retain their duty status. This is almost certainly the future for most lawyers.
Property and Private Client
Finally we have seen sustained recruitment for conveyancing and wills & probate in a range of law firms across the UK. There appears to be a renewed drive to expand teams and replace departing staff at a number of law firms. Locum and permanent have yet again picked up for the third month in a row. We are noticing more firms taking increased care over employing staff who have moved around in recent times and recruitment is not (or likely to be) the free for all it was in 2006.
The commercial arm of the industry is fairly steady. Although recent adverts have increased in number for a range of medium to larger sized firms, I would estimate that at least 75% of vacancies are being advertised across a range of employment agencies, meaning that the numbers are somewhat misleading. Redundancies are still occurring as firms offload aging staff (and better paid), still a very common practice.
Still quiet – occasionally ebbing and flowing. Now is the time to start getting bookings in for 2013, particularly summer holiday cover. A number of our locums have their years fully booked already, but we have plenty of capacity. Employing locums or contractors is a way to expand or cover busy periods without committing to a new member of staff. The only downside is that locums can be slightly more expensive. In the current market this is not so much of a problem because there are plenty of them out there, which is keeping the price down.
Jonathan Fagan, March 5th 2013.