Legal Job Market Update – August 5th 2015.
This is our first update since the start of June, so the job market report covers two months. June and July are very busy times for us, both on the locum side and permanent. The locum side remains very busy going into August. Conveyancing and commercial property are still the key areas. During July it has been difficult to source conveyancers for immediate starts but now we are into August conveyancers are starting to indicate availability again.
Permanent vacancies have been more mixed in June and July. The average job strength has decreased slightly to 3.4 for July, which is still healthy. However a number of firms have indicated vacancies that failed to materalise or were adjusted downwards (ie we want a solicitor but only want to pay paralegal rates). There are also still firms trying to recruit solicitors to work on percentage splits, and this is not a good sign. This type of arrangement seems to work for a couple of larger companies (although their staff include a number of our locums who do small amounts for them) but rarely leads to successful longer term recruitment in our opinion.
Salaries still remain at levels that haven’t moved for some time in a lot of sectors but I remain optimistic that things will change shortly if the economy stays strong. The election and the legal aid uncertainty have both played a part in the profession not seeing an increase across the board.
Conveyancing has been busier – since the start of July conveyancing posts have made up 48% of our vacancies.
Wills & Probate has dropped off – it is still a difficult area to recruit for on the permanent side unless at NQ level and I think some firms have given up. Locum roles are now difficult to fill – very few good quality private client locums currently available.
Commercial Property remains difficult. There still remains a gap between the salaries applicants seek and salaries being offered by law firms. There has however been an increase in locum availability.
Family Law has picked up a bit but remains fairly quiet for permanent roles. Locum work has been busier this year than last.
Litigation – both civil and commercial still very quiet. The same applies for corporate commercial although locum commercial roles have increased a bit. In House roles have picked up but there seems to be a fairly high level of uncertainty with jobs being posted but then changing or being withdrawn.
Employment law work has remained pretty poor. No change here for some time. Tribunal fees being reviewed by Michael Gove, but presumably this will be to see whether he can make money for private companies out of them rather than actually improve access to justice..
June/July 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies busy
* Commercial Property vacancies busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies down
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – few
* Family vacancies – up but low number
* Market outlook – stable.
Current live vacancies: 474
New permanent vacancies added in June/July: 71
New locum vacancies added in June/July: 94
New candidates registering: 311
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies June/July: 3.4 (OK)
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. Traditionally our clients have been high street law firms and smaller niche 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 usually also involves contacting recruitment agencies in the hope that they have candidates with their own following and not looking for a 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 email@example.com or visit one of our websites.
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