Legal Job Market Report October 2023
in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report October 2023

Legal Job Market Report – October 2023

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

Locum Recruitment – Quiet

Locum work remains quiet generally. In September 2022 we had 34 locum jobs posted with us, and in September this year we had 11. We have seen increasing numbers of locums register with us, some of whom are looking to drop their hourly rates to be competitive. Interestingly, even though work is thin on the ground in most sectors, a proportion of locums are still very 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 – embrace remote working

Busy at the moment, and offers being made for various roles across the board, junior and senior. There has been quite a bit of movement of staff after the summer, so we are seeing a busy start to the autumn recruitment cycle.

At a recent round table event (see article below on the M&A and PII Market Update) I highlighted the need to embrace remote working in the legal profession.

Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment, mentioned that the ability to work from home is a major consideration for legal professionals when considering a career move, and law firms not offering this kind of flexibility are at a disadvantage in a tough recruitment market. “It comes up every single time”, said Jonathan Fagan, speaking at a recent panel discussion on law firm insurance, recruitment and mergers. According to Jonathan, firms must be able to persuade candidates that they will become an integral part of the practice and that there is plenty of work for them to do. This is particularly relevant for property firms, many of whom are experiencing a downturn in instruction volume, and where potential recruits are likely to have concerns about being ‘last in, first out’.

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

New Candidate Registrations

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, especially compared with the huge shortage of locums for the last couple of years.

Law Firms for Sale – Busy

The law firm merger, sale and acquisition market remains busy. There are a number of deals progressing through and we are seeing plenty of new buyer interest for most firms listed with us. I don’t think PII renewal premiums have been sufficiently higher this year to nudge an increased number of firms into looking for a disposal, which has happened in recent years about this time.

We have recently launched an enhanced buyer service, which enables buyers to consult with us at the outset, 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 jf@jonathanfagan.co.uk

Ten Percent Group statistics for September 2023 (September 2022 in brackets)

New locum roles added – 11 (34)
New permanent roles added – 23 (29)
New candidates added – 59 (40)

KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK – October 2023

Permanent placements decline at weakest rate in three months
Temp billings return to growth
Pay pressures ease as staff supply continues to increase

Commentary from Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK
A concerning feature of this month’s data is that demand for staff is losing momentum, with total vacancies falling for the first time since February 2021 amid a fresh reduction in permanent vacancies. While both reductions are slight, employers are clearly nervous due to the long-term economic uncertainty and budget constraints that are impacting businesses everywhere. This in turn is leading to a continued reliance on temporary staff. For several months, strong pay growth has been a consequence of a tight labour market. But strains
on employers’ budgets are now affecting the rate of starting salary inflation which is at a two-and-a-half year low, while temporary wages increased at the slowest rate in 31 months.
Skill shortages across a range of sectors – from permanent IT staff to temporary nursing roles – also continue to be an area of long-term concern for the economy. The labour market is starting to look slightly precarious again and recruiters will be wondering and hoping that the recent slight calming of inflation rates positively impacts the outlook for both employers and jobseekers.”

Commentary from Neil Carberry REC CEO
“Employers tell us they are feeling better about themselves as the year moves on, and today’s data does suggest the possibility of a turnaround in hiring over the next few months. Permanent placements have been falling for a year now from abnormal post-pandemic highs. While permanent hiring activity continues to slow, fewer firms reported a slowdown last month, leading to a much shallower rate of decline than most months recently. Likewise, temporary hiring remains robust with billings growing marginally in September – as they have most months this year. This feels like a market that is finding the bottom of a year-long slowdown. And the relative buoyancy of the private sector is likely to be driving this more positive outlook – while vacancies are now dropping they remain robust in the private sector by comparison to the public. Some sectors such as hospitality, engineering, logistics and healthcare continue to experience very strong and growing demand. Along with high inflation, this is likely to be contributing to the growth of pay for temps and perms alike.”

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