Legal Recruitment News January 2016

Welcome to the January 2016 edition of Legal Recruitment News, including a Legal Job Market Update, new candidate 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).

If you have locum requirements in 2016 now is a good time to book – annual leave cover for the summer months is particularly worth doing as early as possible… – reply to this email with dates & types of law or visit

Legal Job Market Update (full list of monthly updates here)
December to January is a difficult time to give a job market update for. Basically just about everyone is off enjoying the festive season and very little happens! Locum requirements were up on previous years and some permanent recruitment occurred, but very little really to give any indication on the state of the market.. A summary of work is below.

December 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies down
* Locum assignments down
* Conveyancing vacancies – busy
* Commercial Property vacancies – some
* Wills & Probate vacancies – some
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – few
* Family vacancies – few
* Market outlook – will be increasing in January 2016.

Current live vacancies: 571
New permanent vacancies added in December: 16
New locum vacancies added in December: 17
New candidates registering: 99
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies December: 3.3 (OK)

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 sized 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 involve sourcing candidates with their own following and no 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

A Psychic’s 2015 New Year Predictions Revisited (article published here)
Every year we carry an article in our January Newsletter about predictions for the previous year by an expert online psychic, Craig Hamilton-Parker (from We have also included his 2016 predictions below to see how he does when we revisit in 2017. In 2014 Mr Hamilton-Parker scored 1 out of 16. Mr Hamilton-Parker charges £1.50 per minute for his services via telephone consultations.

Online Psychic Craig Hamilton-Parker’s Predictions and Results for 2015
1. Prince Harry will get engaged (correct)
2. Major volcanic eruptions in Japan and Hawaii (correct – although Hawaii volcanoes have been erupting constantly since 2008!)
3. National Health and Police strikes with riots in London (incorrect on all three)
4. Joan Collins dies (wrong – although Jackie Collins died)
5. Royal family death (wrong)
6. Strange fluctuations in the Earth’s Magnetic Field Detected (too vague to check!)
7. A Nuclear submarine will get into serious problems (wrong – although a UK sub did get a £500k dent in April according to the Daily Mail)
8. 2015 will be a year with a lot of Maritime problems and there could be a very serious disaster – akin to the sinking of the Titanic. (correct in a sense – migrant vessels sank in the Mediterranean in 2015 with large death toll).
9. Economically, India will rise faster than China in the coming years (too vague to check)
10. Josefina Vázquez Mota will become the first female president of Mexico. (wrong)
11. There will be a bad earthquake during 2015 in Mexico City (correct – sort of – lots of earthquakes hit Mexico City).
12. Many countries may see terrorist attacks from loan gunmen. I ‘see’ Berlin, Rome and Paris as targets but a simultaneous London attack with be thwarted. (partly correct)
13. There will be a celebrity kidnapping and an attack on a member of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family (wrong).
14. The Conservatives will win the UK election by a whisker. Cameron will be ousted just after the election despite his electoral success. (correct and wrong at the same time!).
15. During 2015 Jeb Bush will gain popularity and will win the American Election in 2016. (wrong so far – 29% and dropping).

Score: 5 out of 16, although 3 of these relate to common events occurring regularly – eg earthquakes in earthquake zones. Much better than 2014 though..

Mr Hamilton-Parker’s Psychic Predictions for 2016
1. Massive earthquake in Himalayas causes dam to burst.
2. Japanese island sinks beneath the sea – this will be a year with many sudden environmental changes. There will also be a bigger than ever disruption to the ice sheets.
3. Unprecedented rainfall disrupts some of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
4. A comet/asteroid is missed by most astronomical observatories and comes close to Earth.
5. EU referendum brought forward and leaves EU (presumably this relates to the UK)
6. Large fire in historic Dutch building sees many masterpieces destroyed.
7. Extensive flooding in UK during winter with tidal surge causing extensive damage in Southern England. Dates to watch 11th and 29th November and February 23rd
8. New refugee wave from Ukraine and Georgia as Russia tightens its grip on dissidents.
9. Rise of right-wing politics in Spain, France and Italy sees rioting on streets and mosques burnt.
10. Turkey will invade Kurdish areas of Syria.
11. Massive increase in use of drones in Syria quell ISIS. Britain puts some troops on the ground.
12. New form of nanotechnology used to track terrorists.
13. Commonly used food additive is conclusively proven as a cause of cancer.
14. Prince Phillip is taken seriously ill and has major life and death operation.
15. There is an attempted behind-the-scenes coup in China as Chinese currency collapses.
16. An alleged naked picture of Kim Jong-un causes a political row.
17. Donald Trump’s bid for the Whitehouse if thwarted by illness. The last battle is neck and neck between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. The republicans win after a sudden last minute change of republican candidates.
18. British Labour Party splits in two with one section joining the Liberals. British Labour Party make big gains in Scotland.
19. India’s economy surges forward. New deals made between UK and India

Mr Hamilton-Parker also talks about World War III starting, although not clear what this relates to – I would have expected World War III to include the end of humanity but there we go.. Perhaps we will not be around next year to find out the results of his predictions?

SmallLaw v BigLaw – the differences (article published here)
The US has a slightly different definition of the two types of law firm operating in each jurisdiction. In the UK we call them High Street law and Commercial law firms, although the two overlap a bit. In the USA they term the two types of firm SmallLaw and BigLaw. This makes a lot of sense. The larger law firms in the UK are predominantly based in the city of London and employ literally armies upon armies of lawyers & support staff and work with huge state institutions and corporations. Billing levels for paralegals start at a rate higher than a lot of partners in high street firms. High street firms operate on tight budgets and commonly have less than 20 employees.

The difference in the approach can be demonstrated with these two examples:

The New Client
A solicitor at a law firm gets a call from a new client asking to retain him. The solicitor is over the moon. “They want to hire me,” he’s thinking. “How flattering! And the partners will be really pleased that I’ve managed to attract new business at my tender age.”

At a small firm, the partners are indeed impressed: “That’s great! Congratulations! We’re delighted to see that you have an eye for generating business..”

At a large firm, the partners may react quite differently: “What’s the matter worth? Maybe ten grand in fees? It’s not worth running a conflict check for ten grand. Call the client back and refer her to the little firm down the block.” Or, if the matter is more substantial: “That sounds like an interesting matter, but it’s a one-off situation. We don’t do any other work for that company, so this isn’t an important institutional relationship for us. And the potential new client is a big company, which implies that it will create a lot of conflicts. We can’t do one-off litigation for a big company, because that will prevent us from suing that company on behalf of our many existing clients (who are worth much more to us). You can’t take the case.”

Conflict Checks
At a small law firm, “conflict check” means a call from a long-time client in a litigation matter against a company called BigCo. The solicitor puts his client on hold, does a quick look at the firm’s client database and says “I’ve checked conflicts. We can handle your case. Feel free to tell me the details.”

In large firms the solicitor will get the call and say “Thanks for calling me about this. I’d be delighted to represent you, but I can’t commit to handling the case until I check conflicts. Please don’t tell me anything more about the case. I’ll run a conflict check and get back to you as soon as possible.” The solicitor asks a conflict-checker to do the necessary search of the conflicts database. The computer searches for “BigCo” and “Big” and “Co”; and all corporate entities that have those words (or fragments) in their names; and parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates of all those corporate entities. Two hours later, the solicitor receives a 53-page spreadsheet with the names of all current clients, former clients, and potential future clients whose names the computer generated. The list is broken down not just by client name, but also by individual matter, and many matters were handled by different “responsible partners” at the 30 offices around the globe. The solicitor dutifully sends out emails to the partners responsible for every matter that might create a conflict. A couple of those partners are in trial, and a few are on annual leave and one no longer works for the firm. The partner in the Hong Kong office naturally refuses to answer emails, despite many nudges.

Three weeks later, the solicitor returns the call to his client, happily reporting that he can take the case.

(I’ve borrowed these examples from Mark Herrmann, a US lawyer with experience in both types of law firm in the USA (see for the full article).

London Law firm pays NQ Solicitors £100k (article published here)
One of the US law firms in London has now decided to offer NQ solicitors £100k salaries, which is about £22k more than Clifford Chance NQ solicitors get, and about £75k more than most NQ solicitors get on the high street..

The website is a very good source of all information and data about the larger law firms in the UK, including an indication of opinions of salary levels on their forums. Apparently NQ solicitors and associates at the top UK law firms in London look enviously across at their counterparts in the US firms in London because salaries can be around 25% higher at the US firms. Naturally no thought is given to the fact that these solicitors are being paid over 3-4 times as much as their counterparts in smaller practices!

We occasionally get solicitors from Clifford Chance and other large practices wanting to return to the real world and go home at 5.30pm. They are astonished when they hear how much high street firms actually pay their staff and tend not to proceed with applications.. However they are similarly amazed at the notion of leaving the office before 7pm each day, which seems to frighten some of them! Discontent with earning huge salaries is usually caused by the billable hours required. According to the RollonFriday website, Clifford Chance expect their solicitors to bill 1800 hours a year, which according to my calculator is 37.5 hours per week billable time, or 7.5 hours per day. 50-60 hours work per week would be required as a minimum to achieve this (Yale Law School have a very good example which can be found here).

In fact what solicitors fail to realise is that the hours required at city firms are so huge that the salary levels are not that different to the high street.

Paul McCartney works in a high street conveyancing firm. He works a rigid 7.5 hours per day – 9am to 5.30pm including a 1 hour lunch break when the firm closes. His salary is £35,000. Assuming 4 weeks annual leave, his take home monthly rate of pay (net of tax) will be £2,240.60. His net hourly rate is £15.

Ringo Starr works in a large city practice. His salary is £98,500 at 3 years PQE. He works 12 hour days – from 8am to 8pm together with 2 x 8 hour Saturdays each month. Lunchbreaks are non-existent. Assuming 4 weeks annual leave and bank holidays, his take home monthly rate of pay (net of tax) will be £5,371.31. His net hourly rate is £21.

So the difference in reality, when you look at the hours worked, is somewhat negligble compared with the huge discrepancy in salary. When you factor in the fact that Ringo is probably taking twice as long to get to work as Paul (he will have to commute into central London every day and Paul probably works in the suburbs) the £98,500 really doesn’t sound as good!

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. NB: These rates are intended as a guide only. Hourly rates can vary according to the location, duration and level of expertise.

Dec 2015 – Jan 2016 Private Practice Law Firm Locum Rates:
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-5 years PQE, handling residential standard sale price only – £25-30 per hour (slight variation for central London – £29-35 per hour).
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors & ILEX – 5-35 years PQE, handling all levels of conveyancing including managing a department – £25-£35 per hour, including central London.
* Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE – £30-45 per hour.
* Wills & Probate Solicitors and Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £30-40 per hour.
* Family Solicitors – 4-40 years PQE – £24-28 per hour. Occasionally this goes up to £35 per hour for short notice or a few days cover.
* Civil Litigation – 1-35 years PQE. £25-33 per hour. These rates cover mainstream litigation – eg county court and small claims matters.

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 11,000 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

Charity Suggestions – deadline 6th January 2016
Our trustees are meeting at lunchtime on the 7th January 2016. If anyone has any suggestions for charities we can donate to, please let me know by replying to this email. We particularly like smaller sized charities and do not, as a matter of policy, donate to charities who pay any member of staff more than £75k. Don’t worry about checking – we vet all charities to make sure!

How to be a Locum – pdf guide
We have produced a 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 – click the link on the left hand side of the page.

About Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment
We are a specialist legal recruiter, covering both permanent and locum roles across the whole of the UK. Over 11,000 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.

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.

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. We have carried on with this tradition since we formed the company 15 years ago. So far over £66,000 has been donated to charities in the UK and Africa including LawCare and the CAB. The next round of donations are due in Jan-Feb 2016.

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

Warm regards

Jonathan Fagan

T: 0207 127 4343

Register Vacancies – Locum or Permanent

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

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