Legal Job Market Report – 1st February 2010

The Legal Job Market looked as if it was going to take off quite dramatically as December drew to a close. All the signs were there – firms wanting to interview over Christmas, indications of the recruitment freezes being lifted by some of the larger firms, lack of redundancies and a stop to the large numbers of CVs flooding the market through redundancy, and requests by law firms with posts. January has been a little bit slow as a result of the adverse weather conditions we have experienced, although vacancies have still picked up. We had people about to attend interviews two hundred miles away only to discover that not only was the firm they were going to see closed, but the partners they were due to meet being snowed in at their homes. One company had a whole days worth of interview cancelled with people travelling from all over the country to a central location in Derby. This makes it very difficult on the recruitment side as the work that a consultant puts in to set up one days worth of interviewing can take another week to get back on track, once partners have been tracked down, candidates have made travel arrangements etc.. It is all very time consuming and quite frustrating when adverse weather affects interviews. We are still seeing some rogue firms and candidates coming through, which has been a fairly common theme throughout the recession. We have had firms offering ridiculously low amounts of money to well qualified candidates and being surprised when they get turned down, candidates who get offered extremely good deals only to turn them down for spurious reasons and candidates who simply fail to turn up to interviews at all. All of these things have been very rare in legal recruitment during the time we have been involved in it, and thankfully are decreasing as the markets pick up. The other phenomenon is the non-existent law firm or job offer which usually involves a firm claiming to be starting up and with the money to provide a salary plus bonus scheme, only to get to the interview and find that the firm were wanting to see if the person coming to see them had their own following that a) they could potentially “use” and b) they could base their department on in order to pay the candidate to do the work rather than generating any new work. We have seen an increase in the number of non-contentious positions with Wills and Probate and conveyancing slowly starting to get back onto the market. In fact we have noticed in some areas that there is already a shortage of conveyancers with a particular level of experience and I expect this to start to become increasingly prevalent as the recruitment season progresses. The usual litigation positions are there as always although family appears to have died off again, after a surge last year. Perhaps this is a sign of the increased optimism in the economy, as I write this I hear that the country is now officially out of a recession which of course has an effect on people’s financial and personal decisions. The outlook for February is good and we hope that the snow stays off and firms start to look to recruit again. The back of the Law Society Gazette is always a good indication of the market and in recent weeks we have started to see a number of law firms and companies looking to expand departments and increase their teams and we hope that this continues for the foreseeable future.