Legal Recruitment News April 2013

Legal Recruitment News – April 2013

Welcome to the April edition of Legal Recruitment News. We have included our job market update, new candidate lists, articles on how to post an effective job ad and top interview questions for 2013.

Legal Recruitment News is written by Jonathan Fagan, MD of the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment group (Interim Lawyers, Ten-Percent £60, Ten-Percent Legal Careers and TP Transcriptions).

Job Market Update – April 9th
The job market in March has been a game of two halves. In the run up to Easter it was rather quiet, with little going on. The Easter break seemed to have an effect on concentrating the mind a little bit and as we have returned things have got very busy. For the first time as far as I can remember we have a large number of vacancies being posted in April, which is usually one of the quietest months of the year. Conveyancing appears to be busy, wills & probate the same and we have had in house posts coming through as well.

Crime solicitors are not exactly in great demand this year and the announcement this morning that competitive tendering is coming into force this autumn will no doubt send shivers down the spine of many a defence lawyer. I must note that competitive tendering seems to have been coming into force every year since 2005 so whether it actually manages to proceed this time is another matter. It will be interesting to see if the LSC end up awarding contracts to lots of smaller new start up firms or huge operations both going for the cheapest price option. Either way it is pretty obvious anyone running a decent crime firm paying reasonable money to their solicitors is not going to be in a favourable position…

We have recently signed up for a trial with a company who scrape vacancies off law firm websites and send them through to recruiters so that we can see who is looking and for what. This has been quite interesting because it gives a cross section of the market at the moment (assuming the scraping is accurate of course!).

In the last week there have been:

7 Conveyancing Jobs
8 Corporate Commercial Jobs
7 Clinical Negligence Jobs
7 Wills & Probate Jobs
6 Construction Jobs
13 Personal Injury Jobs
4 Crime Jobs
3 Family Jobs
6 Financial Services and Tax Jobs
3 Civil and Commercial Litigation Jobs

Our own numbers have been highest in conveyancing and wills & probate. Most of the personal injury jobs appear to be with law firms with links to to the insurance industry as they presumably tighten their grip on the PI market. Interestingly firms seem to be trying to expand into clinical negligence, perhaps as a way to continue with personal injury work, but concentrating on an area seen to be more profitable with the new limits on RTA matters.

The construction increase comes as a bit of a surprise as reports have recently been bandied about indicating that the construction market is again declining after a short spurt of activity.

Getting busy as we approach the locum season. We have seen assignments both an ongoing basis as firms recruit for 1-3 days per week (locums give you the flexibility to expand and contract as work ebbs and flows) and those more urgently needed to cover annual or sick leave. Now is the time to start getting bookings in for 2013, particularly summer holiday cover. A number of our locums have their years fully booked already, but we have plenty of capacity. is our specialist site for locum and contract assignments.

Any questions regarding the above? Contact me via LinkedIn (, Facebook, Twitter (@tenpercentlegal) or old fashioned email –

Jonathan Fagan, April 9th 2013.

Results from the KPMG Jobs Survey April 9th 2013
The KPMG survey is undertaken by asking 100s of recruitment agencies (including ourselves) to indicate generally the state of the market. This gives a broad overview of the jobs market in the UK in all sectors.

The headlines in March were:
* Permanent placements and temp billings increase, but at weaker rates
* Slowest growth of job vacancies for seven months
* IT & Computing remains most in-demand type of permanent staff
* Nursing/Medical/Care most sought-after temp category
* Availability of permanent staff down slightly; temp availability rises
* Muted pay inflation

The report also carries commentary on annual pay increases which may be of interest. For March 2013 it says:

Data from the Office for National Statistics signalled that annual growth of employee earnings (including bonuses) eased to 1.2% in the three months to January, the lowest since the three months to March 2012. Pay growth weakened in the private sector, but was unchanged in the public sector.

10 New Candidates in last 24 hours
Selection of new candidates registered in the past 24 hours. Got a permanent vacancy or locum assignment? Get in touch and we will send over CVs to assist, sometimes almost immediately. Over 10,000 solicitors and legal executives are registered with us.
Twitter: @tenpercentlegal
Tel: 0207 127 4343

09040931 Family Panel member looking around Harrow and NW London. 4 days pw.
09040039 Wills & Probate Solicitor, 10 years PQE. SE London and Kent. £40k.
08042237 In House Commercial Contracts Manager. £49k, Anywhere.
08041648 Crime Solicitor – Duty, London & SE or Manchester.
08041555 Litigation Solicitor – Civil, Commercial and Debt. 4 years PQE. London and Herts.
08041513 Crime Billing Clerk. London. 2 years experience.
08041335 Wills & Probate Locum or Permanent. 3 years PQE. Oxford graduate. London and SE.
08041208 Crime Solicitor – Duty. Glos, Bristol and Somerset. Relocating.
07042052 PI and Employment Solicitor. Own following 20 new cases per month. London. Salaried.
08041338 Family and Child Panel Locum Solicitor. Chester, Liverpool and North Wales.

Is Postgraduate Legal Education a Rip Off?
I come to this argument slightly biased in favour of saying ‘yes, definitely’. In recent years I have lectured on careers at a university in the UK and for the first few sessions 5 or 6 years ago I have to say that I was horrified at the poor standard of students doing the LPC. How could the university let them on, knowing that virtually none of them stood any chance of progressing in law? Or was it more the case of supply vs demand and this being the students’ choice rather than any fault of the university for allowing them to continue?

In recent months my Google Alerts (very useful tool for following your market – free of charge and available in your google account) have indicated that other areas of the world where cynicsm is setting in when it comes to law schools.

In the USA a book has recently been released called The Lawyer Bubble by Steven Harper – a full extract from the book can be read here:

Law students are encouraged to go to law school in ever increasing numbers. Finance is available to provide the fees and living allowances, and in the USA, like the UK, the costs outweigh any future possible earnings for a good chunk of the profession.

Mr Harper quotes a figure of attending law school of around $100,000 in the USA, where the average earnings of the majority of lawyers is likely to be around $60,000. In the USA it is estimated that only half of all law graduates will ever find a job in law, and this is probably the same sort of level in the UK.

In 2011 less than 50% of law graduates found jobs in private practice. 9 months later only 55 percent held full-time, long-term positions requiring a legal degree.

I don’t think any similar figures have been produced for the UK, but there must be well over 40,000 law graduates in the UK who have completed the LPC and/or GDL and who have never made a single penny back from their investment.

Whilst it could be argued that it is their own fault – going into law without appreciating how tough it is to progress, or failing to get the right academic grades or work experience to be noticed, similarly it has to be said that the law schools must take some of the blame. Particularly so when some advertise in the Law Society Gazette with headlines about increasing job prospects by completing an LLM, which is utter and complete nonsense.

Over the years I have advised so many graduates who are convinced by their law schools that the only way to get a job is to pay £8,000 to complete an LLM which will guarantee them a good career. I have never seen anyone progress their career by completing an LLM and doubt whether anyone could ever prove any benefit at all apart from increased understanding and personal development.

So what can be done about this? I think that the best solution is to combine the LPC with the training contract. If this was the case, no student would ever have to risk paying for the LPC and not qualifying again. Law schools would cease to make huge sums out of students who would be better advised to look elsewhere. Although this would stem the flow of LPC graduates for use as paralegals, it would mean more people would work their way up through the ranks and probably use the ILEX as a much cheaper and more effective route.

I have recently released an article on E-Zine on the cheapest way to get into law, discussing some of the above points. See whether you agree with my (somewhat controversial) advice!

Jonathan Fagan is MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment –

Charity Donations
The Ten-Percent Foundation is in the process of determining its charitable donations for 2013. We now have a pot of about £10,000 to donate. We were hoping to complete donations before the end of March but this has dragged on a little bit into April. We like giving money to legal charities or charities with links to solicitors or charities operated or established by solicitors.

If you have any suggestions please email Jonathan Fagan at The foundation likes to donate sums of around £500-£1,000 although we donate larger sums from time to time. No form filling is required and we prefer specific projects or smaller charities.

The Ten-Percent Group of Legal Recruitment websites gives 10% of annual profits to charity. Apart from a small blip caused by the recession in 2008 (shortly to be remedied), we have carried on with this tradition since we formed in April 2000. So far over £40,000 has been donated to charities in the UK and Africa including LawCare.

Is it Acceptable to Swear in Business?
(extracted from our blog –
Last week I attended the Recruitment Expo, which is a little bit like a day of CPD together with trade stands. One of the seminars was delivered by a very well-known recruitment trainer and someone highly respected within the business, particularly for his headhunting courses. As part of his quick 20 minute presentation, this trainer was giving 20 objections and how to overcome them. (i.e. when clients are prevaricating before agreeing to either speak to you or take on a member of staff through you as a recruiter).

A couple of times in the first 10 minutes he used fairly mild swear words as part of his presentation. These didn’t seem to be out of place per say although they did make me consciously aware that he had just sworn to his audience. However, when he got to his point about clients phoning and giving out vacancies he used the phrase “Well Fk Me”, not once but twice. He then went on to use the “F” word at least twice more.

What made this so unusual was the setting in which the trainer had decided it was appropriate to use such strong language. He was speaking to a room of virtually complete strangers, some of whom are high level HR Directors and recruiters working for multi-nationals. He had no idea who anyone in the room was or what their sensitivities were for use of this strong language.

I sensed that he wanted to use the language to almost stun his audience into waking up or listening more closely or to simply shock us into action.

His point was reasonable and one I had not really thought of before (going off a tangent here – stay with me!) which is that when a client phones us completely out of the blue with a permanent vacancy you can (almost) guarantee that:

  1. The vacancy is complete and utter rubbish and will involve something like a requirement for an Oxford educated solicitor speaking fluent Lithuanian solicitor who wants to work in Bognor Regis and get paid £6 an hour,
  2. The lawyer phoning us will almost certainly have called another 10 agencies who will almost immediately proceed to call the same candidates and annoy them all tremendously and
  3. Even when you find them the perfect candidate (having achieved the impossible) the firm will then decide they don’t wish to recruit because the whole thing was an exercise being run to see what would happen if they did decide to recruit.

However, personally I felt there was no need to use such strong language and although it does not offend me if somebody uses words like that, it made me feel very uncomfortable in that particular setting.

Whilst I would expect that type of language if I was playing cricket with a group of blokes in the changing rooms and after a match where we had just been slaughtered, I would not expect it as an owner manager and director of my own business sat in a room with lots of other similar people. I thought to a certain extent it showed a lack of respect for me and the remainder of the audience and I was not impressed to say the least.

So the question is, is it ever appropriate or acceptable to swear in the course of business?

I used to work as a criminal defence solicitor (when pay was just appalling rather than impossible to live on). The clients regularly sat and went through a pack of cigarettes in my presence, peppering their language with very strong “F” and “C” words every other word and I rarely felt uncomfortable with them doing this because I accepted it was part of their language and the setting we were in. Afterall if I was facing 14 years in prison for armed robbery I would probably want to smoke a pack of cigarettes and swear every other word myself.

However I don’t think I ever swore to a client because I felt (and still do feel) that if I had done this I would have been considered less of a lawyer in their eyes. They hadn’t come to me for advice because I was a friendly person who was on the same wave length as them and could get down with the boys and use as much bad language as they did, they came to see me because I was a qualified professional and respected member of society (regardless of what politicians try to paint as an alternative picture of solicitors).

The same applies when I work as a recruitment consultant. If I know a candidate well then my language may be slightly less formal, but for everyone else I deal with I try to have the same level of professionalism that I did as a solicitor.

I could only see one circumstance when it would be acceptable to swear and that would be when quoting someone else or to get over a particular point in a story. Personally I cannot see any other reason why you would want to use such strong language either with client or with professionals on a training course.

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.

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

Warm regards

Jonathan Fagan

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

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