in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report November 2011

1st November 2011

October has been a very busy month in legal recruitment. Traditionally the Autumn is the busiest time of year for recruitment, tailing off as we get towards Christmas. During October the job advertisement levels in the Law Society Gazette have reflected the level of business we have been doing. Some weeks the Gazette has been full of adverts and other weeks it has been quite quiet. Overall though business is up.  Conveyancing and Wills and Probate vacancies appear to be trickling back onto the market and we are getting wind of a number of these.

As we approach November 14th and the Duty Solicitor deadlines a good number of firms have been trying to increase their Duty Solicitor numbers within firms. It has to be said that this is a lot less during this year. Part of this I think is related to the fact that business through duty slots is considerably down on previous years.

I can be fairly confident of this because one of the large legal recruitment companies has decided to become an expert in duty solicitors in recent times and have been plastering the Law Society Gazette with adverts for freelance duty solicitors across the UK for a couple of large law firms.  I suspect that these firms are attempting to capture a significant proportion of the market so that when competitive tendering comes in the bigger companies will be in a good position to take a considerable chunk of the work at a low price per case.  I can see a time when the likes of Serco and Capita get involved in the crime solicitor market and one of the big players gets taken over and turned into a call centre operation with freelance advocates being paid a low hourly rate. Freelance Duty Solicitors are strongly advised to think carefully before staying on a freelance basis unless they are picking up substantial work off their duty slots. There have been a number of instances in the last 12 months when freelancers have made very little money and therefore have accepted salaried posts as low as £27,000 to £30,000 as their freelance work has netted them so little over the past 6-12 months.
Other fields have been busy.  We have picked up posts as varied as environmental law consultancy work in the Midlands, mental health, welfare benefit posts (very rare these days), corporate commercial, taxation and commercial property.

The vast majority of the posts coming through to our job board are now being posted by clients who have signed up to the £60 per month scheme. This means that all candidates are guaranteed consideration by the law firm they have applied to, provided they are suitable, and recruitment on the whole tends to occur after the vacancies have been advertised. Over the past 3 years we have had a large number of firms toying with the idea of recruitment and decided the last minute to pull out, wasting everyone’s time and money.  We hope the new scheme has erased this and that when a vacancy is placed recruitment occurs.

In October the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment £720 a Year Service had over 120 new candidate registrations (solicitors, fee earners and legal support staff candidates). The majority of our clients now interview and recruit directly (through our new service), so we no longer have an accurate record of interview numbers. A number of new firms and existing clients have now signed up to the new £60 a month scheme.

Jonathan Fagan, MD Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. T: 0207 127 4343 or email: jbfagan@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 17 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.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk