Legal Recruitment News March 2015

 Legal Recruitment News – March 4th 2015

▪ Legal Job Market Report
▪ Locum Hourly Rates – 2015 Guide
▪ Register Locum Jobs
▪ Unusual Family Locum Vacancy – involves a military flight offshore
▪ The Annual Maternity Phenomenon
▪ Annual donations for 2015
▪ Register Permanent Jobs
▪ Legal Salary Reviews Online

Welcome to the March 2015 edition of Legal Recruitment News, including a Legal Job Market 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).

Legal Job Market Update
February has been a month of two halves as usual. We spend the first week watching the post-Christmas recruitment spike recede and then skiing holidays together with half term breaks kicking in. Locum work has dropped off towards the end of the month, although we have taken a number of bookings for later in the year. Most locum assignments coming in are either firms looking to expand and take on additional fee earners whilst there is plenty of work, or alternatively it is sick leave cover. The winter season generates the largest number of sick leave assignments, although this is probably not surprising.

Permanent vacancies are up, which is always good. However this month we have seen a rise in the number of firms contacting us for self-employed consultant roles – not something that has been very common for quite some time. These tend not to be regarded as good quality vacancies by candidates.

Salary levels are a bit mixed as well. Some firms are expecting candidates to take similar salary ranges to existing staff and are not budging at all on these, but other firms are taking a more pragmatic approach. If a solicitor indicates an interest in their vacancy and is the only solicitor to take an interest, salary levels are probably going to have to match the applicant’s expectations if they want to recruit. There is also still a lack of awareness that candidates do not move for the same salary or less unless they are desperate. Career moves inevitably result in a pay rise.

We think that that in 2015 we will start seeing salary levels going up, after all there haven’t really been any major increases in salaries for solicitors for a good number of years, but this is not evident at the present time in legal job vacancy advertising generally.

Most high street vacancies are still coming in at around the £30-45k mark, even though on £45k you cannot afford a mortgage on more than a single room apartment in most parts of London. We still get firms requesting locally based solicitors for central London and then offering salaries of £30k.

Conveyancing has gone a bit quieter but there is a clear lack of good candidates. By good candidates I mean those that are based locally to the firm, have a steady employment history and reasonable salary expectations. Interestingly this month we have seen a few conveyancing candidates becoming available after their firms have let them go. There is no obvious reason for this.

Wills & probate is busy but there is a discrepancy between salary expectations and salaries being offered. This may well resolve itself later in the year.

Commercial property is very similar. I sense a growing number of vacancies going unfilled as there is such a dearth of candidates for them. In particular there is a dearth of applicants prepared to work for the wages being offered.

Family law has gone extremely quiet. We have picked up a family locum assignment in the Falkland Islands for 2 months in May if anyone fancies it – you fly out on a military plane and stay in Stanley to deal with the work before flying home again 2 months later. Apparently the islands are beautiful at this time of year. See below.

Crime is almost non-existent. In some ways we enjoy this – doing crime recruitment has always been a bit adversarial – partners seem to struggle to switch off from the court room when dealing with recruiters, although I appreciate we must sometimes feel lik the enemy!

Litigation – both civil and commercial – is very quiet. Not a lot going on at all. Corporate commercial comes in bursts for us. We are never going to be the type of agency to recruit partners into city firms and we tend to do more on the high street and in house. Both are quiet at the moment.

Employment law work seems to have all but disappeared. We are starting to see solicitors at all levels of the legal profession seeking work – from partners of city firms down to high street – as the fees for employment tribunals kick in and redundancies occur. Still seems strange that in a time when the economy is picking up there are areas of law where it is a struggle to get employment.

It will be interesting to see how the new court fees for civil claims affect recruitment in this area, although surely the future now has to be alternative dispute resolution for claims over £20k, avoiding the courts at all costs? I seem to recall fee hikes in the 1990s, with warnings of impending collapse of all litigation work, but that never happened.

Work will get very busy in the next two weeks, with the lead up to Easter, but then as we go into Easter we enter the zombie phase of recruitment – this tends to be the quietest time for recruiters apart from Christmas. Firms are too busy dealing with the year end, clients are too busy dealing with the Easter break, and candidates are presumably fairly busy eating Easter Eggs…

March 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments down
* Conveyancing vacancies busy, Commercial Property vacancies very busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies up
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – still very few
* Family vacancies – down
* Commercial Property Solicitors now very difficult to source. Experienced and reliable conveyancers difficult to find for permanent roles. Locums still available in all fields, although getting harder to source for Wills & Probate.

* Market outlook – increasing.

Recently agreed hourly rates:
* London – Litigation Locum – £25 per hour
* Surrey – Conveyancing Locum – £28 per hour
* Leeds – Property Locum – £30 per hour
* Surrey – Conveyancing Locum Ongoing – £30 per hour

Current live vacancies: 546
New permanent vacancies added last month: 26
New candidates registering: 97
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies last month: 3
Increase/Decrease in new vacancies from previous month: +1.9%
Increase/Decrease in new candidates from previous month: -20%

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.

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
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).

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

March 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 – £26-35 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.

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

The Most Unusual Locum Vacancy in 2015 – Family Law in the Falkland Islands

A new vacancy has arisen with a small solicitors firm based in Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

They seek a family solicitor to join them from May 10th to the 17th July. This may be extended by an additional month but at present this is unclear.

We have worked with the firm before a few years ago. Basically you fly from the UK to Stanley on an RAF flight (I think it was from Brize Norton last time), work in Port Stanley before flying home again the same way at the end of the assignment. It is a long journey and for anyone not aware of where the Falklands are it is worth looking before expressing an interest…

The firm have used us before and last time they paid for flights and accomodation. I understand that the Islands are particularly nice at this time of year and you are there before the winter sets in.

If you are interested please send me your most recent CV to forward across to the firm.

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

The Annual Baby Boom Phenomenon and Locum Cover

Every year we see a surge in maternity leave cover and requests for locums. This is known as the ‘Baby Boom’ time slot. For 6 weeks in March and April we go through a time when partners and HR managers call us to enquire about cover. It seems there is a peak time for fee earners giving notice of their intentions to go off on maternity leave in July or August. There is no need for us to go into specifics – one of my children was born in September (!) – but the Baby Boom time slot and subsequent maternity leave always follow the New Year and the Christmas breaks. The colder the winter, the higher the number of pregnancies, or so the theory goes.

The initial maternity cover telephone calls usually sound quite panicky. Partners or Practice Managers tend to instantly pick up the phone to book a locum and seem to think the sky is about to fall on their heads. Quite often we get demands for locums to start immediately even though the maternity cover is not needed for another 3-4 months. Partners panic and think that a pregnant solicitor is instantly going to disappear forever and not return.

So a lot of pressure can be put on us as recruiters to source a locum to start almost immediately and the firm will call us incessantly until we supply a CV.

In about 50% of cases, as soon as we send a CV the partners seem to take a step back from the recruitment (usually when they have had sight of the hourly rates) and decide to put the process on hold. Others will try and get salaried (and hence cheaper) cover, which is very difficult. Some firms actually tell us they are thinking things over but others will simply ignore us for a few months.

By mid-April everything gets back to normal. We enjoy the calm before the storm…

However we then get to June/July time. The phone call at this time of year tends to again by quite panicked. The maternity leave is happening and the partners have become aware that they are going to have to cover the work of the fee earner off ‘enjoying’ themselves on maternity!

We get asked to supply a locum urgently for 9 months starting a week on Monday (in July). This is a nightmare scenario because most professional locums will have annual leave cover already booked in for weeks here and there and most locums remaining are either new to the business or quite junior. Firms always seem surprised when we struggle to source anyone (after all a few months earlier we may have had 3-4 locums available to cover), and hourly rates go higher. This is the 2nd phase of the Baby Boom timeframe and thankfully the end of it until the following March/April.

Are there any lessons to be learnt? Yes.
1. Maternity leave is not the end of the world. It usually lasts 9 months.
2. Admittedly some lawyers will not come back to work, but most seem to.
3. Locums are much better booked in advance.
4. Salaried temporary staff do not really exist unless you are very lucky.
5. Don’t leave arranging cover until a week before maternity leave is due to start.

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% Donations for February 2015
The trustees of the Ten-Percent Foundation (a charitable trust) have met and decided on the following donations for Spring 2015:

Knowsley Domestic Violence Service – £1,000.
Centre 63, Merseyside – £300.
Unicef – £100.
Chester Zoo – £60.
LawCare – £1,000.
Y Care International – £300.
British Stammering Association – £500.
Ace of Clubs – £500 (suggested by Hanne & Co)
Standalone – £200.
Hughes Syndrome Foundation – £100
Time Out Group – £200. (suggested by Chafes)
St Johns Seminary, Tanzania (providing the funding for 5 students to attend school) – £2,200.

Total amount donated so far in 2015 – £6,460. We have a good chunk of money still in the bank and we plan to work out expenditure of this in mid-Summer 2015.

We will get details of how the money has been used by each charity and send out details in the next newsletter. Some of the above charities have been suggested by candidates and clients. Others are linked to our trustees’ own interests.

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


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 –

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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