Legal Job Market Update June 2015
This job market report covers both April and May 2015. The two months are usually characterised by large peaks and troughs.
Firstly we get Easter, which generates a large peak of job vacancies followed by troughs around the holiday weeks. Secondly we have May Bank Holiday, which follows the same pattern, and finally we go through Whitsun, which again results in a very quiet week with busy periods preceding it. Not only have we had the holidays affecting the market, but a general election has reared its head as well. Quite a few senior partners contacted us the week after the result came out to say that they had held back on permanent recruitment until they knew the result of the election.
Permanent vacancies coming in have generally been of good quality – the average job strength has increased to 3.6 for May and this is a good sign of a healthy recruitment market. However we are starting to see a few smaller firms trying to recruit solicitors to work on percentage splits, and this is not a good sign. We currently decline these vacancies and refer firms onto other agencies who are happy to work them, as such arrangements rarely lead to successful longer term recruitment.
Salary levels are not yet showing signs of going up this year, although hourly rates for locums are healthy. 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.
Conveyancing has gone a bit quieter – in May conveyancing posts made up 25% of our vacancies. Locum roles have been very busy sporadically for a couple of months. Locum availability remains OK but increasingly locums are getting booked up for the duration of the summer.
Wills & Probate has dropped off – it is still a difficult area to recruit for on the permanent side unless at NQ level. Locum roles are difficult to fill again despite increased availability in April.
Commercial Property is still difficult. There remains a dearth of applicants prepared to work for the wages being offered. In one instance we have a locum working on a fairly long term assignment until a firm recruit a more junior member of staff. There has been a slight increase in locum availability.
Family Law remains quiet for permanent roles. Locum work has increased slightly.
Crime is still non-existent. As you would probably expect we did not see many duty solicitors move firms prior to the last duty deadline. This is looking to be a thing of the past, and I await lots of calls from firms needing crime advocates to work on zero hours contracts and monthly retainers at ridiculously low levels after the LAA award contracts to firms who haven’t actually done any crime work before (as seemed to happen when the family and care contracts were awarded in 2011).
Litigation – both civil and commercial still very quiet. The same applies for corporate commercial although locum commercial roles have increased a bit.
Employment law work has picked up a little.
May 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies down
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies busy, Commercial Property vacancies busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies down
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – few
* Family vacancies – up
* Market outlook – stable.
Current live vacancies: 593
New permanent vacancies added last month: 26
New locum vacancies added last month: 41
New candidates registering: 112
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies last month: 3.6 (strong)
Increase/Decrease in new vacancies from previous month: -33%
Increase/Decrease in new candidates from previous month: -13%
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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