Legal Recruitment Employers Newsletter June 2012

Legal Recruitment Newsletter June 12th – Ten-Percent Legal


Legal Job Market Report June 12th

May and early June have been up and down like a yo yo, although I have been writing this since March 2008 for every newsletter we have sent out! We see pockets of very frenetic activity, followed up with a long gap without very much occurring.

The main points from the June 12th KPMG report on the jobs market reveals:

Growth of permanent placements eases
The Midlands outperforms the rest of the UK
Engineering/Construction sector sees growth in permanent and temporary vacancies
Weak pay growth signalled
Total number of hours worked per week in the UK increased by 8.4 million in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the previous three months.
Number of people securing permanent jobs has increased for the fifth consecutive month and official figures show a drop in unemployment.
If you would like to see a full copy of this report, please let us know and we will send it over to you.

In June 2012 we had 121 new candidates register with us. We have seen another round of redundancies, mainly in the larger firms, as management appear to be trying to streamline operations. Most of the redundancies appear to be for senior and middle level employed solicitors, which was the pattern emerging back in 2008 when the recession started to bite.

We have seen a large increase this month in the use of contractors (aka locums) by law firms, which appears to be the new trend. There is an article below outlining the benefits of using contractors as opposed to permanent staff to cover any busy periods of work.

Register Vacancies with Ten-Percent or Interim Lawyers – click here. Ten-Percent offers law firms unlimited permanent and locum recruitment for 5 years at £60 per month. Interim Lawyers offer locums and contractors on hourly rates.

How to Recruit in an Unpredictable Market

In today’s fluctuating economy, a flexible workforce is key. We hear so many times of firms where they have put all their permanent staff on 3 or 4 day weeks because the level of work has dropped to such significant levels that they cannot afford to keep everyone on and justify the wage bill.

Over the past 25 years of industry the methods of employing staff have changed quite considerably as specialist management consultants have identified that using a flexible workforce can be considerably more cost effective than having permanent staff.

If you have a contractor (or locum) in place, when the work drops off you simply dispense with their services and wait until the work picks up again before employing another contractor to take their place. This means that your firm can budget for times when the work is not sufficient to justify employing considerable numbers of staff. If you have permanent staff and the work drops off you have to go through the whole process of making redundancies, reducing their hours each week or be re-assigning staff to different areas. This all requires cost, effort and considerable amounts of time and leaves you open constantly to the chances of an employment tribunal claim, which can be every employer’s worst nightmare.

Using contractors means that not only is it tax efficient, but also you do not need to risk any liability for redundancy or employment claims when a permanent member of staff decides that you have targeted them for redundancy and not followed the correct procedures.

Ten Percent and Interim Lawyers provide an alternative solution to firms who find their case load has picked up or they need covert for maternity or sickness. You can book a contractor simply by visiting one of our websites and entering your requirements.

You cannot get contractors to work on a fee sharing basis as this defeats the whole purpose of the exercise, but you can get them to work on a fixed hourly rate. The usual sort of fixed hourly rate can be anything from £14 per hour for a recently qualified solicitor up to about £35 per hour for a very experienced contractor or somebody covering a very short holiday leave. Some contractors charge upwards of £60 per hour. All contractors will provide you with two references, their practising certificate (if relevant) and proof of ID on their first day of employment and it is always open to employers to speak to the contractors on the phone and face to face before they commence work.

Contractors work on a self-employed basis and invoice your firm at the end of each week for the number of hours they have worked during that week. When you decide that the contractor is no longer needed you can simply ask them to leave and that is the end of their assignment with you. When your work picks up again you can either book the same contractor if they are available or alternatively look for a new one. This means that at all times your work load can be covered but your overheads stay at a minimum level.

By utilising this method of employment your firm can stay competitive without needing to budget for leaner times. There are law firms out there with over half their workforce being employed on this basis, which means that at any time the extra workforce can be asked to stop and the permanent work force can deal with the diminished caseload if work drops off.

Register Vacancies with Ten-Percent or Interim Lawyers – click here. Ten-Percent offers law firms unlimited permanent and locum recruitment for 5 years at £60 per month. Interim Lawyers offer locums and contractors on hourly rates.

Online Locum and Contractor Register

You can access our Contractor Register at

There are over 600 locums/contractors on our books so if you have a specific requirement please reply to this message with further details or register the post online with us.

Removing the Minimum Pay for Trainees – A Good Thing?
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority have recommended the removal of the training contract minimum salary, something that appears to have been broadly welcomed by a large number of organisations which include a significant number of vested interests, such as LPC providers.

Is this a good thing? I don’t think so. Probably a very controversial opinion, but I don’t think the legal profession as a whole can be trusted not to exploit potential trainee solicitors and take advantage of large numbers of desperate students and graduates who believe they need a training contract at all costs.

Furthermore, what on earth is the point of permitting law firms to effectively take on large numbers of low paid workers who can then be permitted to carry on and qualify as solicitors? Where does this leave the status of a newly qualified solicitor? Already in debt to the tune of around £25,000, NQ salaries in non-commercial practices are almost certain to plummet.

There are a good number of law firms out there whose sole purpose is to exploit just about everybody they have any contact with including their own workers, their clients and any third party such as the Legal Services Commission. These firms have to be regulated and monitored closely and the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority appears to spend its vast majority of time trying to avoid undertaking too much work and keeping very close tabs on firms.

One area where a vulnerable workforce is in dire need of an external organisation keeping close tabs on their employer is trainee solicitors. Trainee solicitors are particularly vulnerable because they invariably have large debts, are in need of a training contract in order to progress their career and fairly naïve in terms of the work place and any work they are asked to do.

By removing the minimum salary cap from trainee solicitors the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority will be giving these firms carte blanche to recruit as many trainee solicitors as they wish on a ridiculously low salary, provide a so-called training contract which in reality is anything but and to send these people out into the work place 2 years later as fully qualified solicitors.

The SRA have had no thought at all into the future large numbers of trainee solicitors who are going to struggle to get a newly qualified position. Furthermore they have had no thought at all to the likely future salary of any newly qualified solicitor as chances are firms will be able to drop newly qualified salaries even further than they currently have because there will be so many desperate trainee solicitors looking for their first newly qualified position.

We already have a profession where entrants into the profession are some of the lowliest paid. It made me laugh recently to hear of the Police Federation vehemently protesting that they thought a fairly recently qualified police officer could be earning as little as £22,000, when I am regularly dealing with 5 year PQE conveyancing solicitors who earn less than that because their firms have either taken the opportunity to mercilessly exploit them by claiming they cannot afford any more or because market forces dictate that there is so little work out there at present, they simply cannot justify a salary higher than this.

I don’t think the legal profession is responsible enough to regular itself with minimum salaries for trainee solicitors and I think the removal of the minimum salary is nothing short of a catastrophe for generations of younger potential solicitors to come.

Jonathan Fagan – MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment

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