Legal job market report from Ten Percent Legal Recruitment, dated November 2023. Current status of the legal job & recruitment market in the UK, as well as the status of the law firm merger & acquisition market.
Here is our summary of the current state of the UK legal job market.
Locum Recruitment – Quiet
Locum work still remains quiet, although we have started to see the usual uplift in maternity leave cover bookings coming in – much more common between October and February each year for some reason! We have seen a 100% decline in locum jobs posted in the last month, compared with the previous year. Conveyancing roles are still extremely thin on the ground. I covered for a colleague this month, and I was surprised that when we got a conveyancing locum role in we had a lot of applications, but only a few reduced their hourly rates to compete in the current market. This is partly because a significant proportion of locums do not need to work all the time, although interestingly on that occasion the firm went with the most expensive option (quality over quantity rules again). A proportion of locums are still extremely reluctant to attend office-based assignments and are keen to only do remote working assignments. Corporate commercial consultancy roles can still be a challenge to source for when clients have specific requirements.
Locum assignment updates here: https://www.interimlawyers.co.uk/category/locum-solicitor-updates/
Permanent Recruitment – Busy
Busy at the moment, and offers being made for various roles across the board, junior and senior. We are starting to get a regular flow of candidates through for most vacancies, which is a change from 12 months ago, when there was very little in terms of candidate applications. Remote working remains the number one driving factor for most candidate moves at present. If you don’t offer it, a good proportion of candidates will go somewhere that does.
Permanent vacancies can be viewed here: https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/vacancies/
New Candidate Registrations – 50% increase
Candidate registrations are a very good indicator for market conditions. As indicated in the last few newsletters, 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 50%. New locums have remained high in number.
Law Firms for Sale – Quieter
The law firm merger, sale and acquisition market has been extremely busy, but other than a few buyers keen for a deal before Christmas for a number of reasons, the market as ever has started to get quieter as Christmas shopping becomes more interesting that WIP calculations!
There are a number of deals progressing through and we are seeing plenty of new buyer interest for most firms listed with us. PII renewal premiums do not appear to have increased sufficiently across the board to nudge any increases in firms looking for a disposal, which has happened in recent years in October.
We have recently launched an enhanced buyer service, which enables buyers to consult with us throughout, obtain verified buyer status, a featured listing on our buyer databases, early access to new listings and access to our knowledge bank online. For details please click here.
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 email@example.com
Ten Percent Group statistics for October 2023 (October 2022 in brackets)
New locum roles added – 16 (33)
New permanent roles added – 30 (26)
New candidates added – 66 (42)
KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK – November 2023
Softer, but sustained fall in permanent staff appointments
Temp billings rise for second straight month
Candidate availability expands at sharper pace
Commentary from Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK
“The jobs market is facing a cyclical challenge – there are people out there who want to work, and there’s a decent availability of candidates, but they often do not have the right skills for the roles on offer. This means higher starting salaries are still being offered as businesses compete in the ongoing battle for talent. And while the rate of decline in permanent
placements is the weakest since June – this follows more than a year of cautious hiring due to
economic uncertainty and means many businesses are unable to commit to long-term strategies and instead are having to focus on the here and now, by employing temps. The sharper rise in available candidates is good news for recruiters, but this comes at the expense of employers who are making more redundancies as they tighten budgets due to ongoing high inflation. With a weak economic outlook for the months ahead, employers will be hoping next year will bring the expected easing of inflation so they can focus on delivering growth for their businesses.”
Commentary from Neil Carberry REC CEO
“In many ways, the labour market is marking time waiting for the brakes to be taken off growth by the Bank of England. While permanent hiring is now declining more softly, temporary hiring continues to pick up the slack – with billings gently growing for most of this year on the back of rising wages. While the rate of pay growth has now returned to more normal parameters, it is still strong, especially in sectors where staff remain in short supply. That sectoral split is ever more pronounced, with challenging sectors like construction and IT sitting in a very different place to hospitality and healthcare, which continue to be affected by shortages.”