in Legal Job Market Reports

October 2013 Legal Job Market Update

Job Market Update – October 8th
September has remained a busy recruitment month, with increasing numbers of locum assignments coming in, coupled with increasing numbers of permanent posts. For example, on one Friday morning in the last few weeks we took details of 7 permanent vacancies from law firms across the UK. Last Friday we took 6 new locum assignments in the space of a few hours.

Main area has remained residential conveyancing with some commercial property. Wills & probate has not picked up as much as we thought it was going to, but vacancies still trickle in from time to time. Litigation has gone very, very quiet indeed.

Crime vacancies have not really materialised this year – the rota deadline is less than 6 weeks away but nothing has cropped up in any serious quantities compared with times gone by. Duty solicitors have only been requested by three of our member firms this year. Contrast this with vacancy numbers a few rota slots ago where we had over 50 separate law firms asking for duty solicitors.

Family law is now a bit of a dead zone. Absolutely nothing going on really. LSC work is the same – apart from a few very brave firms opening offices across the country to try and take advantage of the legal aid deserts that are now clearly in existence – it is not an area for high levels of recruitment.

We have seen an increase in corporate commercial and in house roles, which marks a bit of change as these areas have traditionally been very quiet indeed recently.

So in summary we are seeing a very busy market still, mainly fuelled by the property sector again and recruitment back to levels not seen for over five years.

If you are thinking of undertaking conveyancing locum work, now would be a good time to start! Let us know. We have been keeping a couple of our regular property locums in constant employment since the start of the summer with short term assignments. This was until recently a very rare thing to do.

The new KPMG report on the UK job market confirms our individual agency findings. This shows:

  1. Marked increases in both permanent placements and temp billings
  2. Permanent salary inflation sharpest since February 2008
  3. Vacancies continue to rise at marked pace
  4. Candidate availability falls further

One of the partners at KPMG, Bernard Brown, comments:

“With another month of data showing a strong rise in the number of appointments and job offers on the table, it seems that business is warming to calls for investment from Mark Carney. Improved market conditions, higher activity levels amongst clients and generally stronger levels of confidence amongst employers are certainly one of the major factors underpinning the latest rise in placements. Only last week the Bank of England argued that recovery will only be sustainable over the long term if regions beyond London grow strongly. The North is showing strongest growth, with the Midlands driving a rise in temporary placements. It’s a sign that local economies are picking up and gives hope that economic recovery is not dependent on one area or sector.

He expresses concern that employees are clearly still not sharing employers’ growing faith in recovery. Demand for staff may be up, but the number of individuals putting themselves on the market has dropped for the fifth consecutive month. He goes on to say “perhaps the pay on offer has to rise to encourage staff to ‘make the move’. If it doesn’t we could be about to witness a growing gap between what the employers need and what employees are prepared to do.”

We have noticed this ourselves. For example, one of our member law firms is recruiting for a private client solicitor in the Leicester area, and applications have been very sparse. Last year we would have had a good number of candidates applying.

The job market is changing…..

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at or visit one of our websites.

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 17 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 You can contact Jonathan at