Legal Job Market Update – September 6th 2016
The legal job market has been very interesting indeed over the last 8 weeks (our last report was on July 6th). Brexit, the Olympics, the Euro 2016 tournament and lots of annual leave for everyone has had an impact on recruitment.
What changes have we seen since the EU Referendum in the legal job market?
* The demand for residential conveyancing locum lawyers dropped. When I say ‘dropped’ we calculated that in June/July our locum business revenue fell by about 75%. It was a fairly large adjustment. In August the demand picked up again, but is still down year on year.
* Permanent recruitment generally has increased.
* The demand for family solicitors has increased. In fact, for the first time in the history of our company we have been unable to recruit for certain family solicitor locum and permanent roles. The roles have been in Milton Keynes, Wales and near London. We are not sure why family work would be affected, unless families have argued so much about the referendum result they fall out and split up!
* Wills and Probate roles have increased – see below.
* Commercial Property roles have disappeared. We have very few indeed – those that exist tend to be a mix of residential and commercial conveyancing for smaller sized practices.
* There has been a general increase in the demand for litigation solicitors. New vacancies coming in have tended to be fairly general litigation.
We cannot be sure what has caused the adjustments to the market (although the uncertainty caused by the political upheaval is very likely to be the main issue). We can say that it has been fairly seismic in the way it has changed. Property legal recruitment has been the mainstay of a lot of business since mid-2011, but this has now altered. There has definitely been a drop in the London market and we have had reports from locums ending longer term assignments that work has fallen. I suspect this was happening before the referendum in any event as we had seen central London vacancies declining since mid-2015. In other areas of the UK property markets are still busy.
We have also seen an increase in enquiries about our fixed fee recruitment – unlimited locum and permanent recruitment for a monthly fee – as firms look to save money and restrict future costs. In the time we have been operating the scheme we have found that membership increases when uncertainty in the market goes up.
Partners’ Annual Leave – the effect on the recruitment market
Annual leave for partners tends to adjust the market. Partners go on holiday and actually have time to think. They think about the business and the future. This year it seems some partners have mostly been thinking about wills & probate and how their firm is missing out on a revenue stream (the back of the Gazette this week is full of private client vacancies). In previous years commercial property and conveyancing have both been high in the topics for partners thoughts whilst on annual leave.
The partners return to work and immediately start planning to recruit a wills & probate solicitor or ILEX. We are called, given a fairly loose job specification, and set about sourcing a wills & probate lawyer for them. Whether or not the firm actually take on a wills & probate lawyer when they discover salary expectations is another matter entirely!
As you may expect, ever since the early 2000s it has been very difficult indeed to source a wills & probate lawyer anywhere in the country. This is because at that time law firms decided the wills & probate law market was probably dead – will writers seemed to be sweeping up vast tracts of business and people were not dying fast enough to generate probate work off the back of the wills. Recruitment levels dropped. In recent years, especially since the changes to Powers of Attorney, demand has increased and wills & probate vacancies can stay live for a considerable time, especially in roles situated outside London.
A summary of work we did in August is below.
August 2016 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies – some
* Commercial Property vacancies – few
* Wills & Probate vacancies – busy
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – some
* Family vacancies – some
* Market outlook – vacancies will increase slightly in September before dropping off for Oct-Dec. This is the standard recruitment cycle.
Current live vacancies: 632
New permanent vacancies added in July/August: 51
New locum vacancies added in July/August: 92
New candidates registering: 174
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies July/August: 3 (Average)
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment publishes the number of new vacancies, new candidates and indicate the increase or decrease from the previous month. We aim to assist the legal profession by showing the market from our perspective. Our clients tend to be high street law firms and smaller sized commercial practices.
The average job strength gives a good indication of the market because:
1. A poor Job Strength on vacancies indicates a struggling market. When trade is bad, employers seek options for increasing turnover which involve sourcing candidates with their own following and no salary.
2. A strong Job Strength on vacancies indicates a buoyant market, particularly if it is in connection with an increase in numbers of new vacancies.
Vacancies are each graded 1-5, with 5 being a very strong vacancy and 1 being a very weak vacancy.
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes for the Ten-Percent website and the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.