April 2015 Legal Recruitment News

April 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the April 2015 edition of Legal Recruitment News, including a Legal Job Market Update, current locum hourly rates and articles. Legal Recruitment News is written by Jonathan Fagan, MD and non-practising solicitor of the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment group (Interim Lawyers and Ten-Percent).

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Legal Job Market Update
March was busy. This is quite normal as we get near to Easter and the end of the financial year for a lot of firms. The locum market picks up with a good number of short term assignments coming in as well as more summer bookings. Permanent vacancies also increase annually at this time as partners have time to reflect on staffing levels and make plans for the coming months.

Permanent vacancies have been of good quality – the average job strength has increased to 3.5 for March and this is a good sign of a healthy recruitment market.

We still think that in 2015 we will be seeing salary levels going up, although a number of firms seem to be living in the 1980s at times when it comes to job offers and hourly rates. Last week we received a telephone call from a law firm based at a home office in a London house worth £3 million looking to avoid paying £35 an hour for a locum to cover for a few weeks.

Conveyancing has gone a bit quieter although still made up 33% of our vacancies for March. Locum roles were busy for a week or two before Easter but have now dropped off again. Locum availability is currently quite good although we expect this to change as the month progresses.

Wills & Probate is a difficult area to recruit for on the permanent side unless at NQ level. On the locum side we have seen an increase in availability from consultants, which is the first time this has happened since 2012.

Commercial property is very similar. I sense a growing number of vacancies going unfilled as there is such a dearth of candidates for them. In particular there is a dearth of applicants prepared to work for the wages being offered. We have seen some availability increases on the locum side.

Family law remains quiet for permanent roles. Locum work has increased a little bit in the last few months.

Crime is almost non-existent. However this month we have a two year contract just in for the Falkland Islands, starting in September. A few brave firms have registered requirements for duty solicitors before the next rota deadline (May 1st) but not much movement at the moment.

Litigation – both civil and commercial still very quiet. The same applies for corporate commercial.

Employment law work has picked up a little. A few vacancies have trickled in but sitll not much.

March 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up

* Conveyancing vacancies busy, Commercial Property vacancies very busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies up
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – still very few
* Family vacancies – up
* Market outlook – increasing.

Current live vacancies: 562
New permanent vacancies added last month: 39
New locum vacancies added last month: 36
New candidates registering: 129
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies last month: 3.5 (strong)
Increase/Decrease in new vacancies from previous month: +50%
Increase/Decrease in new candidates from previous month: +33%

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 cv@ten-percent.co.uk or visit one of our websites.

We have over 11,000 lawyers registered with us. To request CVs for a specific vacancy please register your vacancy – Locum or Permanent

Hourly Rates of Pay for Locum Solicitors and Legal Executives
Locum hourly rate payment varies widely according to the demand, length of assignment, level of experience and advance notice available. Hourly rates go up during the summer (June-September). NB: These rates are intended as a guide only. Hourly rates can vary according to the location, duration and level of expertise.

March 2015 Private Practice Law Firm Rates:
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-5 years PQE, handling residential standard sale price only – £25-28 per hour (slight variation for central London – £25-30 per hour).
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors & ILEX – 5-35 years PQE, handling all levels of conveyancing including managing a department – £30-37 per hour, including central London.
* Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE – usually mainly light commercial conveyancing rather than light and heavyweight. £35-48 per hour.
* Wills & Probate Solicitors and Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £30-42 per hour.
* Family Solicitors – 4-40 years PQE – £24-30 per hour. Very occasionally this goes up to £35 per hour for short notice or a few days cover.
* Civil Litigation – 1-35 years PQE. £25-35 per hour. These rates cover mainstream litigation – eg county court and small claims matters. Rates considerably higher for high court work.

Hourly Rate, Weekly Rate and Salary Equivalents:
£20 per hour = £750 per week or £36,000 per annum (assuming a 7.5 hour day and a 48 week year).
£25 per hour = £937.50 per week or £45,000 per annum.
£30 per hour = £1,125 per week or £54,000 per annum.

We have over 10,500 lawyers registered with us. To request CVs for a specific vacancy please register your vacancy – Locum or Permanent

Locums Available Immediately
We have over 700 candidates registered for locum work. Register Vacancies – Locum or Permanent

Mothers returning to work – a missed opportunity?
The legal profession very often lags behind other sectors for recruitment practices and HR trends. Firms have tended to be inflexible about hours, reluctant to recruit part time staff and hesitant to offer alternatives to salary increases.

It is not surprising therefore that parents returning to work have traditionally found it difficult to get a suitable position and in a good number of cases have given up trying. Over the past 15 years we have seen a thawing in attitudes towards anyone who has a gap on their CV, but it
will still count against a job applicant regardless of the circumstances. For example, quite a few conveyancers have gaps or alternative work on their CVs between 2008 and 2011. Time and again this comes up as a reason for rejecting them for posts, even though it is pretty obvious to all concerned that the candidate was simply trying to survive at a time when conveyancing jobs were virtually inexistent.

Parents returning to work have an even harder job persuading firms to take them back on after a break. Quite often an absence will be about 5-7 years, and at this point mothers (for the purposes of this article assume I am referring to both mothers and fathers!) will still be looking for part time work or flexible hours to enable child care issues to be overcome. Collecting or dropping children off at school is inevitable for most parents and tends to weigh heavily on the mind of candidates at job interviews. More so when the candidate is a returner to work. Mothers are very often nervous about getting back into a job; can they still do the work after all this time out and how will they juggle the work/life balance? This often makes them seem more nervous at job interviews and more particular in their requirements than someone moving straight from one role to the next.

So why is it a missed opportunity? Perhaps it isn’t, but I have noticed the following trend amongst mothers who have gone back to work:

1. They very often do not seem as concerned about salary levels as those who have had a consistent career to date.
2. Benefit packages tend to be considered more carefully, particularly flexible hours and annual leave.
3. Loyalty levels are higher. The returner to work tends to be grateful for the opportunity to get back in again.
4. Levels of experience and ability are quite often higher for a lower salary than another fee earner at the same PQE level. The returner to work will be older (and hopefully that bit wiser!).
5. Returners to work have significant commitments to a particular geographical area and are less likely to be able to relocate to work. This ties them to firms in specific areas and reduces their opportunities to move.
6. Returners to work have strong networks in the areas they are based in which can lead to increased business development potential.
7. Part time and flexible hours returners to work do not seem to do that much less work than full time staff – very often they just cram the same amount of work into a shorter period of time. Think about the time you spend between 3pm and 5pm each day. Is it as productive as 10am to 1pm or considerably less so?

Naturally these are extremely subjective and based on our own experiences. It is true that some parents returning to work have such specific criteria that they will have persuaded any potential employer not to consider them even before they get to interview. Generally however we think that parents returning to work offer significant economic benefits for their firms in the medium-long term.

(New for April 2015 – there is a legal career coach based in London and Manchester specialising in parents returning to work in the legal profession. For details please contact us).

The Second Most Unusual Locum Vacancy in 2015 – Crime Solicitor in the Falkland Islands
A new vacancy has arisen with a small solicitors firm based in Stanley in the Falkland Islands. They seek a crime solicitor to join them for a 2 year contract from September 2015. Very similar to the family role we have just been working on, you fly from the UK to Stanley on an RAF flight (I think it was from Brize Norton last time), work in Stanley before flying home again the same way at the end of the assignment. It is a long journey and for anyone not aware of where the Falklands are it is worth looking before expressing an interest… If you are interested please send me your most recent CV to forward across to the firm. The firm will want to Skype interview you and a partner from the firm may also be available in the next 2 months to meet face to face as well.

We have over 10,500 lawyers registered with us. To request CVs for a specific vacancy please register your vacancy – Locum or Permanent

The Death of 20 days Annual Leave
There are still a number of law firms out there who offer 20 days annual leave. Occasionally this crops up and it is probably useful to know that by offering 20 days annual leave you are risking losing staff to the competition and not being able to recruit in the first place.

20 days annual leave has been the standard in the legal profession on the high street for many years. However rapidly increasing numbers of firms now offer 25 days annual leave (plus statutory) and it has become a pre-requisite for many applicants when looking for a new role.

After all salaries have not really moved upwards for a long time and annual leave increases are an alternative option. A 25% increase in annual leave from 20 to 25 days can actually cost you very little indeed.

Lets look at the figures. Say for example you employ someone at £35k per annum. Assuming they work 47 weeks of the year (20 days annual leave plus an additional 5 days statutory), you will be paying them £745 a week before tax. If you increase your annual leave allowance to 25 days, the cost will be £745.

£745 represents a 2.13% pay rise, but a 25% increase in annual leave. If you had to employ a locum to cover the extra week, the cost would be around £1,400, assuming a £35 an hour rate.

A lot of candidates value annual leave increases more than they do salary increases, mainly because so much of the salary increase disappears in tax. Annual leave increases are much easier to see and extremely cost effective for smaller law firms.

Happy and content staff make productive and profitable businesses, something a lot of firms forget…

We have over 10,500 lawyers registered with us. To request CVs for a specific vacancy please register your vacancy – Locum or Permanent

Further Information on the 2015 10% Donations
We now have further information from some of the charities we have donated to this year.
* Unicef – £100. Hopefully not used to help pay the salary of their rather expensive Chief Executive!
* Chester Zoo – £60. Supporting their work with Red Pandas.
* LawCare – £1,000. Money to be used in support of their provision of support for bullying in the workplace and disciplinary issues.
* Y Care International – £300. The money has been used to support vulnerable young people in Guatemala.
* British Stammering Association – £500. Money used to develop their provision to young people who stammer.
* Standalone – £200. Money used to create a support group in the Newcastle area. The charity support estranged family members.
* Hughes Syndrome Foundation – £100. The money was used to help in creating a GP learning module.
* Time Out Group – £200. (suggested by Chafes). Money used to help fund a holiday for adults with learning disabilities.
* St Johns Seminary, Tanzania (providing the funding for 5 students to attend school) – £2,200. We are hoping to develop a strong link with this school and support 5 children aged 14-18 with the costs of their education.

Total amount donated so far in 2015 – £6,460. We have a good chunk of money still in the bank and we plan to work out expenditure of this in mid-Summer 2015. Some of the above charities have been suggested by candidates and clients. Others are linked to our trustees’ own interests.

How to be a Locum – new pdf guide
We have produced a new guide on how to be a locum. This includes sections on getting work, realistic expectations, hourly rates, popular fields of law, payment, insurance, umbrella companies and much more. Available for download at no charge from www.interimlawyers.co.uk – click the link on the left hand side of the page.

About Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment
We are a specialist legal recruiter, covering the whole of the UK. A large proportion of our vacancies are based in London and the South East, but we do assist firms elsewhere on a very regular basis. Over 10,500 lawyers are registered with us and we have access to a range of external and internal job boards and websites where we do not have candidates available ourselves. We also assist with recruitment advice and assistance, regularly advising partners and practice managers on suitable salary and package levels.

Our company is unique for a number of reasons, including the fact that we are not shy to publish our fee structure and also donate a chunk of our profits to charity each year. We offer unlimited permanent and locum recruitment for a fixed monthly fee or one-off fees depending on the job. We donate 10% of our profits annually to charity, hence our name.

At present we have three recruitment consultants, Jonathan Fagan, Clare Fagan and Pete Gresty, together with our finance director Pearl McNamara. Together we have over 40 years of experience in the legal profession. Jonathan Fagan is a qualified solicitor and still (reluctantly!) undertakes litigation on behalf of the company when required.

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment also owns Interim Lawyers, a specialist locum service. We operate an outsourced UK based typing service as well – www.uk-transcription.co.uk and are preferred suppliers to a number of institutional clients and law firms across the UK and overseas.

The Ten-Percent Group of Legal Recruitment websites gives 10% of annual profits to charity (hence our name). We have carried on with this tradition since we formed the company 14 years ago. So far over £66,000 has been donated to charities in the UK and Africa including LawCare and the CAB.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our newsletter and look forward to hearing from you if we can assist further.

Warm regards

Jonathan Fagan

E: jbfagan@tenpercentgroup.com

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Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor, qualified recruitment consultant and Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here – www.linkedin.com/in/jbfagan

Legal Recruitment News is produced by Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment – you can view all versions of the e-newsletter at www.legal-recruitment.co.uk. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment was established in 2000 and donates 10% of profits to charity, hence the name.

Interim Lawyers – www.interimlawyers.co.uk
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment – www.ten-percent.co.uk
Legal Recruitment Newsletter – www.legal-recruitment.co.uk