Legal Recruitment News February 4th 2015

Legal Recruitment News – February 4th 2015

▪ Legal Job Market Report
▪ Locum Hourly Rates – 2015 Guide
▪ Register Locum Jobs
▪ Paralegals – a nightmare to recruit
▪ Checking and Verifying Candidates
▪ Our 10% donation to charity – trustees meeting 6th February
▪ Register Permanent Jobs
▪ Legal Salary Reviews Online

Welcome to the February 2015 edition of Legal Recruitment News, including a Legal Job Market Update, locum hourly rates and articles on recruiting paralegals and candidate checks. 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).

Legal Job Market Update
Comments on the current market from Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment:
“Since Christmas we have seen a resumption of the recruitment demand that has not really slowed down since the market picked up in 2012. Firms are still recruiting, candidates are out looking for permanent posts and locum assignments have been the busiest for January we have ever seen. The Law Society Gazette has seen an increase in job postings since the New Year and so have we. Locum demand is up (although you would expect this as it really drops off over Christmas), permanent vacancies have been posted in increasing numbers, but interestingly we have also seen a number of redundancies occurring in law firms around Christmas in the Midlands and North West. Family law and support staff seem to have been two main areas for this.”

February 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies still busy, Commercial Property vacancies busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies down
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – still very few
* Family vacancies – down
* Commercial Property Solicitors difficult to source. Experienced conveyancers difficult to find for permanent roles. Locums currently readily available in all fields.
* Market outlook – increasing.

Recently agreed hourly rates and salaries:
* South Coast – Conveyancing Locum – £30 per hour
* London (not central) – Property Solicitor – £35k.
* London (not central) – Conveyancing Locum – £30 per hour
* Wiltshire – Conveyancing Locum – £35 per hour
* North West – Commercial Property P/T – £33k
* Thames Valley – Locum Legal Cashier – £40 per hour
* Anglia – Conveyancing Locum – £28 per hour
* Home Counties – Family Locum – £25 per hour

Current live vacancies: 536
New permanent vacancies added last month: 60
New candidates registering: 121
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies last month: 3.1
Increase/Decrease in new vacancies from previous month: +25%
Increase/Decrease in new candidates from previous month: +133%

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.

Key points from the Markit/CIPS UK services survey for February 2015 are as follows:
* Activity and new business both register stronger rises in January
* Employment rises at near-survey record pace
* Prices pressures dissipate
The UK service sector started 2015 in a strong fashion as activity and new business both increased at accelerated and above survey average rates. Companies were suitably encouraged by these trends to hire additional staff at the joint second-fastest rate in the survey history, using their additional capacity to try and clear backlogs and prepare for further business expansion in the coming months.

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 or visit one of our websites.

We have over 10,500 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 2015
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) and at times when there is an increase in maternity leave cover, which in our experience is usually April/May and October/November.

NB: These rates are intended as a guide only. Hourly rates can vary according to the location, duration and level of expertise, but the figures quoted are quite accurate for the majority of short to medium term locum assignments across the UK. There has been an annual increase in hourly rates since 2011.

2015 Private Practice Law Firm Rates:
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-5 years PQE, handling residential standard sale price only – £20-28 per hour (slight variation for central London – £25-28 per hour).
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors & ILEX – 5-35 years PQE, handling all levels of conveyancing including managing a department – £28-37 per hour, including central London.
* Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE – usually mainly light commercial conveyancing rather than light and heavyweight. £29-40 per hour. Occasionally in the past we have had candidates up to £46 per hour.
* Wills & Probate Solicitors and Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £30-40 per hour. Add on an extra 20% to the price for a STEP member. For a lawyer experienced in tax and trusts add an additional 20%.
* Family Solicitors – 4-40 years PQE – £22-30 per hour. Very occasionally this goes up to £35 per hour for short notice or a few days cover. Family locums tend to be LSC supervisors and/or panel members.
* Civil Litigation – 1-35 years PQE. £25-35 per hour. Really depends on the type of litigation you have – these rates cover mainstream litigation – eg county court and small claims matters. Rates considerably higher for high court work.

Local Authority Hourly Rates
For all areas of law tend to be around £35-55 per hour (£45 per hour salary equivalent to £81,000 per annum). In recent times local authority lawyer locum recruitment has been outpricing the general market due to the questionable practice of using an interim management company to control and restrict the agencies who have access to that particular local authority law department. Hourly rates are preset and those we have seen tend to be well above the levels elsewhere in the profession for the same level of locum. The agencies pay the candidate through interim management software (eg Matrix and Comensura) and get a percentage cut per hour. The interim management company also takes an hourly cut.
Presumably this system is used because the local authorities are paying for the interim management company to do the work they used to do themselves (after all how long does it really take a HR Manager to call round 5-6 specialist agencies to get a locum booked for the following week), but there we go!

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 –

Paralegals are a Nightmare to Recruit
We have always charged flat rates regardless of salary, as for some reason it is usually easier dealing with senior solicitors and executives than it is sorting out paralegals. In fact after our last two experiences on paralegal roles I am wondering about turning our fee structure around and charging more to source paralegals and less to recruit solicitors and senior staff.

Some recruitment agencies (well most actually) charge increased fee structures for higher level appointments. So for example Randstad charge 17% for salaries of less than £20k, 20% for salaries of £30-40k and 25% for salaries of £40k+.

Paralegals are a nightmare.

Every time we get a vacancy in for a paralegal I involuntarily shudder.

Applicants for paralegal roles can be the most wishy-washy, non-committal, half-hearted, barely-interested candidates we have the pleasure to work with. Don’t get me wrong. I know the fun and games of being a paralegal – low pay, debts to service, constant eye out for training contracts and unkept promises of future promotion that rarely materialises. However the vast majority of paralegal applicants are absolutely dire and it is not surprising they do not progress any further in their careers.

Take a recent role we have had with an in house legal department. I should start by saying that they are not particularly going out of their way to be accommodating and offers have been on the lower side, but that is by the by. Looking back at my own legal career, if someone had offered me the chance to interview for a role like this one, I would have been there like a shot.

We take instructions from the client. They are a service company with an in house legal department and looking for a litigation paralegal with at least 6 months experience in defendant civil litigation and good knowledge of CPR rules and the small claims track. Salary levels are up to the mid £20ks depending on experience.

Incidentally the word ‘paralegal’ is defined in general terms as anyone who isn’t a qualified solicitor, barrister or legal executive but who does fee earning work in a law firm. Forget the claims about qualified paralegals and paralegal qualifications – someone will be making money out of it somewhere…

We post the vacancy across our system and email our registered candidates.

Within a few hours – success! Our first applicant. He lives in South London and the post is about 70 miles away. We ask him to doublecheck the location (confirmed OK), we check his salary requirements (fine) and also get further details about his litigation experience. A CV is forwarded across to the client, who immediately gets back to ask us whether the candidate is going to relocate to work. We email the candidate to check on this point – 5 weeks and lots of chasing up – no response.

The second applicant comes from a job board. She is a hairdresser who lives locally to the client. The third is a welder, the fourth works in a conveyancing department and fancies a change into litigation. And so on. In fact I think to date we have had to filter about 50 CVs from candidates who do not have any legal experience at all but thought they would apply nonetheless.

Candidate number 52 looks good. She lives within an hour’s commute, does not have a job after being made redundant and is available immediately. We get her salary expectations and send a CV over. The client immediately interviews and makes an offer at the level requested. The candidate turns them down. Firstly she has decided they are further away than she thought and secondly she has other job interviews to attend and for posts where she may get paid a lot more. Not job offers – just job interviews.

Back to the drawing board.

We send over another 3 or 4 CVs and arrange interviews. Another candidate goes for the post – indicates his salary – looking to return to a litigation role from administrative work. The firm offer him his current salary after interview and indicate that there is future promotion possible. The candidate turns them down. Wants more money and not prepared to give up administrative work for the opportunity to return to a fee earning role.

Back to the drawing board again.

Finally a candidate who had an interview arranged with the client, but then cancelled with 3 hours to spare because her firm offered her a promotion to stay, has got back in touch. She thinks she may have made a mistake – the opportunity may benefit her career more than her current role – and now wants to attend an interview. Can we set one up? The client was slightly hesitant, understandably so, but has agreed to meet. Another candidate also waits in the wings.

I don’t think this attitude is prevalent in many other professional industries, but every time someone posts paralegal vacancies with us this is a fairly common process. Half-hearted applications (so many CVs have spelling mistakes or just miss out basic information – name, current role, qualifications etc..), half-hearted commitment to attend interviews, a complete lack of interest in career progression or planning and no recognition of the need for professionalism. There also seems to be a lot of interest in what employers can do for candidates, but not vice versa. Are graduates encouraged to only think about themselves so much that they fail to appreciate jobs are not offered to them solely for their benefit and not the employers?

Perhaps one of the problems is the general lack of a decent level of salary to justify the expenditure on training? Who knows. I do know that very often there is a reason why some people remain paralegals for a long time and are unable to get a training contract. It involves the words ‘commitment’ and ‘lack of’.

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

Checking and Verifying Candidates
How do we check and verify candidates?
Firstly, the Law Society maintain an online directory of all solicitors with current practising certificates. This means that a solicitor can instantly be identified and confirmed to be holding a practising certificate covering them for the time of either the introduction for permanent vacancies and for assignments on a locum basis. This is a very easy check, and although our terms of business for both permanent and temporary work put the onus of checking onto our clients we do make sure that solicitors have practising certificates in place.

Secondly, because solicitors with practising certificates have had their identity checked, or right of residence and also for proof of identity, we do not need to undertake additional identity checks on solicitor candidates for permanent vacancies. Again the onus is on clients to double check everything, but a practising certificate is usually evidence in itself of identity and residence. Problems can arise with non-solicitor candidates or solicitors working on a non-practising basis.

Are there Dodgy Locums?
There are at least two locums out there who purport to be lawyers/legal executives/executives/legal advisers who have convictions and long spells of detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Both are struck-off solicitors and both are still doing the rounds and trying to obtain legal work. One has covered his tracks so well that it is difficult to work out from his CV that he has ever been a solicitor and spent a number of years in prison having committed a multi-million pound fraud. The other one is easier to spot because the CV does not make sense, but both have altered their names slightly to avoid detection from background searches. We only discovered one after a client tipped us off having received the CV. The other one keeps submitting a CV for various vacancies we advertise from time to time and also calls firms directly on a speculative basis. Because there is no central register for non-qualified lawyers, these types of candidate require us to be a little bit more careful with background checks.

Permanent candidates are very different, basically because there is always time between job offer and a start date to do any background checks or searches, but for locums we have a system in place to try and pick up any issues.

The Locum Verification Process
When a locum registers with us we do a Google search of their name and a few variations – this applies for solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers, as well as non-qualified staff. The Institute of Legal Executives maintains a register of legal executives who have been reprimanded and we consult this from time to time. For solicitors we also telephone the SRA and ask for disclosure of any practising certificate conditions or issues that have arisen. Although the SRA do not keep any records after a certain time, which cleans any solicitor’s record, there is a website that collects the data and keeps publishing the fact that a solicitor has been before the SDT or had sanctions applied by the SRA although they do not appear to be able to give any details anymore. The SRA information online is not always as thorough as one would expect. For example they seem to take a considerable time to publish decisions and also neglect to give information on certain types of sanctions that have been applied.

Every locum is expected to provide us with proof of ID and proof of residence. This is usually undertaken prior to the commencement of an assignment, but in some cases where the placement is urgent we have to source this detail whilst the assignment is ongoing.

References are also obtained or at least set in motion. We usually have at least one reference on file for each locum and we usually get these wherever possible from a recent locum assignment. Again if we have a new candidate then our efforts to obtain a reference can be ongoing at the start of the assignment. A lot of locums keep a ‘to whom it may concern’ reference which makes life a lot easier.

Could we be more thorough?
There are recruitment agencies out there who go through every piece of employment by a candidate over the last 10-15 years. We decided a long time ago that we did not think this necessary and presented more problems than it solved. Firstly a lot of law firms change hands, close down, open up, move on and tracing staff can be difficult. Secondly the administrative burden of doing this would require a considerably higher fee for any placement. Thirdly if you were approached by a recruitment agency about a member of staff you employed 15 years ago would you ever get round to replying to them? I certainly wouldn’t.

We have a system in place whereby a further check is done by way of background check every 12 months on each locum to make sure nothing has arisen in the meantime.

What information do we disclose to our clients?
Everything. Absolutely everything we find. The last thing we want to occur is for one of our clients to discover something about a candidate and call us with the detail. Its embarrassing to say the least. We disclose any practising certificate conditions, details of any bankruptcies, details of any appearances before the SDT or investigations by the SRA. We do not withhold any information, although we do have to find it out first in order to disclose it!

For locums we make our clients aware of anything we come across that might affect their decision to take that candidate on. If a check throws anything up we pass it across to our clients. Sometimes this is easier said than done.

For example one of our locums had an issue occur after our initial check was undertaken and before we conducted our first annual check 12 months later. It was only by coincidence that we happened to look into their background in the interim and discovered something we felt needed to be disclosed. This we did immediately, even though it threatened to scupper a long term assignment. Our reputation as a straight-talking legal recruitment agency is more important to us than short term profit (although it is of course tempting at times to cross over to the dark side and put this first!).

The best type of locum candidate is one who has a wealth of repeat bookings to their name, and the sign of a good permanent candidate is one who has not moved very often in their career. Naturally it is rarely as simple as this, but a few simple checks at our end can really make the difference in ensuring candidates are who they say they are.

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

Our 10% Donation – Friday 6th February decisions
Every year since 2000 we have committed as a company to donate a percentage of our annual profits to charity. This includes any subsidiary companies and operations. For 14 years our board of directors has agreed to 10% (after all, how on earth could we carry on with our business name?). We have now donated over £66,000 to the Ten-Percent Foundation, a small sum in the general scheme of things, but a lot of money for a company of our size. Our trustee meeting is set for Friday February 6th. If you have any suggestions to add to those already put forward by our clients, law firms and candidates, please please feel free to email them across to me at We look for small charities preferably with interesting projects we can support on an ongoing basis.

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 – 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


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

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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