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Questions to our Recruitment Consultants via our Chat Service

Ask a Recruitment Consultant – questions this month on our chat bot

Questions sent to us via our new Chat service online, together with general career questions emailed across. We do our best to answer all queries, sometimes after a fairly lengthy delay if we are busy!

Why is there a shortage of private client solicitors and so many vacancies?

This was a question quite rightly asked by a law student who had noticed there are lots of wills & probate vacancies out there on the internet due to a serious shortage of trained private client solicitors, coupled with a serious increase in the number of people getting LPAs and wills drafted. The shortage dates back to the late 90s and early 00s, when law firms decided that the new legislation that opened up the wills & probate market was going to put them out of business. As a result a large number of private client solicitors and legal executives lost their jobs and retrained. The Legal Practice Course was so geared up for the new market that wills & probate became a short part of a module and not a compulsory subject. Obviously this was all very short sighted as wills & probate is now a very busy area of practice and one where solicitors have identified a fairly undeveloped market with lots of potential. As a result it remains a good area to qualify into if you are looking at high street law as opposed to commercial.

Are Locum Rates cheaper for Maternity Leave Cover?

Usually not. Some law firms try out offering salaries and indicating fixed term contracts, but candidates usually see through this and a lot of locums try to avoid maternity cover assignments in any event as they are too long. Locums tend to do locuming as a lifestyle choice as they don’t wish to work full time anymore. Law firms tend to misunderstand this and think locums will jump at the chance to get 9 months of solid work booked up. Some do, but a good number will avoid these roles. Hourly rates can be slightly lower, however they are rarely noticeably different.

I want to expand my law firm and get consultants working on a fee share. Have you got any?

No. We don’t assist generally with these types of ‘vacancy’ as they are not really job postings in the traditional sense. I would love to expand our business in the same way, but the reality is that although some law firms have been very successful taking on consultants, others have failed. Kaslers in Kent are a good example. Will it really expand your business to take on a consultant, or would it be better to identify a new area of law, move into it and then recruit a junior lawyer to handle the day to day work coming in?

Is there any point taking on LPC graduates after the larger firms have creamed off the top students?

A question from a senior partner of a law firm. In a nutshell yes, because so many are overlooked due to some blip or another – a low GCSE result, an inability to speak business nonsense during interview, or insufficient involvement in the school netball team. There are lots of LPC graduates out there – some truly terrible and others seemingly outstanding future prospects.

When I graduate what career route would I do if I am wanting to become a paralegal?

A query from a law student. My advice was to avoid thinking like this – if your future ambition is to become a paralegal then you are probably wasting your money doing the LLB. You may be better off leaving and trying to get a job as a legal executive, training ‘on the job’. Anyone can call themselves a paralegal, despite the best efforts of larger firms to ‘big up’ the role as a career option. The majority of paralegals spend their time doing very humdrum work that usually involves a photocopier or a ringbinder with lots of pages in it. Aim high and you might get there..

I am a conveyancing solicitor earning £28k and I am billing in the region of £3k per month. What should I get paid?

Firstly you are doing extremely well! Employing the age-old rule of thumb for salaries and remuneration I reckon that you should be getting £9,300 a year. How on earth a law firm can afford to pay a solicitor £28k when they only generate £36k in fees is complete madness. Obviously if you have another role in the business, for example doing non-fee earning work or assisting the partners with their work, then I can see why. Moving to another firm and indicating figures like this will make any prospective employer run a mile (in the opposite direction)..

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 www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk