Legal Recruitment News October 2015

Welcome to the October 2015 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).

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Legal Job Market Update
September has been a busy month, much busier than expected, particularly on legal support roles. The Rugby World Cup has not had the same impact that Football tournaments have on recruitment business (the FIFA World Cup virtually puts a hold on permanent recruitment for 2-3 weeks!). Still a good number of locum roles came in, particularly in conveyancing, and a mass of permanent positions registered in the last 10 days. It is still a busy legal job market although we have availability in most areas of the UK for conveyancing locums now after a shortage over the summer.

Conveyancing – still busy. Some firms still do not bother trying to recruit, although in other areas we are seeing a trickle of new conveyancing candidates looking for permanent work. Salaries have started to increase as firms accept the new realities of the market.

Wills & Probate gone quieter now – still difficult to recruit for on the permanent side and locum rates are still high – a number of candidates are now commanding hourly rates that are usually beyond the budgets of most smaller firms.

Commercial Property remains difficult although locum availability increased. There still remains a gap between the salaries applicants seek and salaries being offered by law firms.

Family Law has picked up a bit but remains fairly quiet for permanent roles. Locum work has been busy in September, although locum rates seem to have put a number of firms off.

Litigation – both civil and commercial still quiet. Employment picked up briefly but then dropped off again without much happening – firms may have been testing the water I think! The same applies for corporate commercial – this has never been our specialism but we do often see a steady stream of vacancies. In House roles have picked up but there still seems to be a fairly high level of uncertainty with jobs being posted but then changing or being withdrawn.

September 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments static
* Conveyancing vacancies busy
* Commercial Property vacancies busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies – some
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – few
* Family vacancies – few
* Market outlook – stable.

Current live vacancies: 537
New permanent vacancies added in September: 47
New locum vacancies added in August: 56
New candidates registering: 83
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies August: 3.5 (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 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 11,000 lawyers registered with us. To request CVs for a specific vacancy please register your vacancy – Locum or Permanent

Candidates Registered in the last 7 days
06101228 Part Time Conveyancing Solicitor looking for permanent roles in Ilford, East and Central London.
30091226 Commercial Property and Development Locum available on the South Coast for locum work. Nov onwards.
06101414 Legal Admin Assistant with 3 years experience looking in London.
06101327 Litigation Solicitor 20 years PQE available for work in London and South. Locum.
06101142 NQ Solicitor with Real Estate, Planning, Pensions and Regulation experience looking for locum roles in London.
05101510 PI Solicitor – Defendant – looking for locum work in North West.
05101258 Commercial Litigation Solicitor with Construction looking around London. Permanent.
04102139 Legal Secretary looking in Hull. Permanent.
04101709 Family Legal Secretary looking in London, West London and Berkshire.
04101344 Conveyancing Solicitor looking for a new post around Slough. 5 years PQE. Permanent.

Things not to take to Job Interviews
As legal recruiters, we regularly hear of interviews that have gone badly wrong and these are some of the things that people have turned up with that have seriously affected their chances of success.

1) Their Mother
We have actually had instances of candidates turning up to job interviews with their mother in tow and both sitting in the reception area of the company or firm they are interviewing with and becoming the source of great fascination amongst the staff. Why on earth would anyone take their mother to a job interview? But it happens. One to be avoided like the plague.

2) A Carrier Bag
Can the choice of a carrier bag really affect the outcome of a job interview? Feedback from an interview in recent times has been that the firm liked the candidate and thought they were very friendly but their appearance was awful. This included the Lidl carrier bag they were carrying their stuff in.

3) Odd socks
Feedback from one interview a few years ago was that the candidate came across well, until he crossed his legs. Odd socks were on show. The firm were not impressed.. Similarly, wearing jeans and a t-shirt to an office based interview is definitely not a good idea, neither is turning up in a cap. However we have had feedback from firms about candidates being overdressed – turning up in a waistcoat, bow-tie and a cumberband.

4) Tattoos
It will probably pain a lot of people to hear this but there are still considerable numbers of employers out there who are very unlikely to employ a candidate if they spot a tattoo. It is understandable that if you have ‘Kill’ tattooed across your knuckles or a picture of an angel tattooed across your forehead it is not going to be very easy to inspire confidence from a lot of clients! However feedback in the past has commented on a tattoo of Popeye on the forearm. No doubt in time this taboo will end – the vast majority of people under the age of 25 seem to have a tattoo somewhere on their person – and employers will have to move with the times.

5) A Big Mac Happy Meal from McDonalds.
When candidates attend a job interview it is more than understandable that they will want to make sure they have got plenty of energy to stay alert & awake and keep focused. But whilst eating a Big Mac meal from McDonalds is probably not going to give you the same boost as a banana & a bag of nuts; there are those who would find this a comfort before attending a job interview. However, walking into the buildings of the company who are interviewing you and asking if there is somewhere you can put your half-eaten Big Mac is not to be recommended.

Possibly the worst thing ever reported (even worse than the Big Mac) as feedback was a candidate who asked for the interview to be paused for a moment whilst they took a call on their mobile.

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.

September 2015 Private Practice Law Firm 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 – £27-£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 – £22-28 per hour. Occasionally this goes up to £35 per hour for short notice or a few days cover.
* Civil Litigation – 1-35 years PQE. £27-35 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

What Makes a Good Job Reference?
What constitutes a good job reference?

A good reference will state the following :

• Confirmation of a start date and end date.
• The reason why the employment relationship ended – e.g. redundancy or end of assignment.
• The employer’s opinion of the candidate’s work.
• The employer’s opinion of the candidate’s ability to get on as part of a team.
• Confirmation that the employer would use the candidate in future should the need arise.

This applies for both types of reference, locum and permanent.

Locum References
For locums, the best references are those where a client emails us as the agents (we run our locum service via to say what a fantastic job the locum is doing and how pleased they are that they took them on.

The reference provided can be the start of lots of work or the end of any work because most agencies have a similar policy to us in that we do not put forward locums to roles if we have had more than one negative reference in the past. Whilst it is quite obvious that there will always be personality issues between employers and locums, and that these can impact on opinions expressed in references, there are only so many times we can allow a locum to go for roles before we have to make a judgement as to whether it was just a personality issue or whether there is something wrong with that locum. As company policy, we are very strict that two bad references spells the end of a locum’s work with us.

Sometimes, we pick up references from our clients’ to tell us about a locum they currently have from another agency. For example, we have recently had an occasion when a client telephoned us to say that their current locum was busy trying to syphon off their clients and was spending the vast majority of his time phoning round other agencies to try and get work and claiming that he had a following of clients to come with him. Naturally, we made a note not to work with this locum in the future!

Permanent Job References
For permanent candidates, the reference serves a different purpose. Firstly, if a firm is LEXCEL accredited then every member of staff, as we understand it, has to have at least one reference, if not two. One of these references has to be a recent employer although not necessarily the most recent.

We have had instances where firms have insisted on a reference from the most recent employer. However the candidate has refused to allow them access to the most recent employer because they have either fallen out with them or the candidate is very aware that the reference is not going to be very good, especially when their most recent employer finds out they are leaving.

We do not recommend that employers force the issue because very often it
a) creates bad will for the new employee just about to start with the firm but already in conflict with their new employer; and
b) such a reference is very unlikely to be either truthful, accurate or objective.

The most recent employer will always feel that the candidate has been disloyal to them and as a result will be reluctant to provide an objective reference.

It is often better to ask a candidate for either a recent employer, someone who has worked with them or seen their work in the past 2 to 3 years. These types of references can be much more useful than one from a bitter former employer. The sole purpose of a permanent reference is really to confirm dates of employment and that there have been no recent issues in the workplace over the past 4 to 5 years.

If the candidate has been with a larger employer then it is fairly common for the reference to confirm dates of employment. Larger employers and more cautious employers will often refuse to give anything other than this and claim it is company policy not to provide anything else. Ironically the same employers will often ask for detailed references from other employers and be quite surprised when they don’t get one!

The best form of reference for a new employer is simply to telephone the reference and have an off-the-record chat with them. This usually results in a straightforward reference being provided and information given that would not necessarily be in writing. However, again we recommend airing on the side of caution when it comes to relying on references because everyone has different reasons for the information that they give when speaking to potential new employers. Former employers may want to be rid of someone and give a fantastic reference knowing that the person is really not a good prospect at all. A quick example of this was a solicitors firm in Nottingham many years ago who actually telephoned round agencies putting forward one of their solicitors as a candidate. A reference was even provided, but left the agents scratching their heads as to why a law firm would want to give a good reference for someone they were trying to get rid of.

Summer 2015 10% Donations – nominations needed
It is time for us to take any nominations for our charitable trust – we were due a trustees meeting last month but it has been carried over. We hope to provide continuing support to a number of our existing charities, including the British Stammering Association, LawCare and a school in Tanzania, but apart from this we are open to suggestions. We do not, as a matter of policy, donate to any charity paying staff more than £75k. Email any suggestions to

How to be a Locum – new pdf guide
We have produced a new 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. 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. 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.

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 –

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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