September 2014 Candidate Newsletter

Legal Recruitment News – September 15th 2014

▪ Legal Job Market Report
▪ Search Our Vacancies Online – click here
▪ How to cut a better deal with your current firm

Welcome to the September edition of Legal Recruitment News, including a Legal Job Market Update and a guide on improving your value to your employer. 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.

Job Market Update – September
Summer 2014 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies up, Commercial Property vacancies up
* Crime vacancies gone, Personal Injury vacancies disappearing
* Employment Law vacancies – non-existent
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – few here and there
* Family vacancies – up
* Further increase in proprerty vacancies attracting very few applications. Commercial property solicitors extremely difficult to source. Conveyancers difficult to find.
* Market outlook – still very buoyant. Salaries now rising.

Current live vacancies: 593
New permanent vacancies added in August 2014: 32
New candidates registering: 91
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies in May: 3.8
Increase/Decrease in new vacancies from previous month: -8%
Increase/Decrease in new candidates from previous month: -12%

Key points from the KPMG Job Market survey for August 2014:
▪ Stronger growth of permanent and temporary staff appointments
▪ Record decline in availability of permanent candidates
▪ Starting salary growth close to June’s survey-high

Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, said:
“For the first time in months we are witnessing churn in the labour market. It seems that
employees are finally beginning to wake up to the opportunities available to them, with the
rates of growth of both permanent and temporary placements accelerating simultaneously. Perhaps it’s true that ‘every person has their price’ because the movement in labour is
coinciding with another rise in starting salaries. Just a few months ago employers couldn’t
tempt staff to switch roles, but indications are that employees’ caution over change is being
replaced with hunger for something new.”

This review is undertaken by a market research company who contact 100s of recruitment agencies across the UK to undertake a monthly questionnaire. We are part of the panel and get exclusive access to the report. KPMG report that the Midlands is the place to be for candidates moving and employers paying good money to get them, but this is far from reality for the legal profession – the Midlands is not a prime area for recruitment and never has been!

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.

How to Cut a Better Deal with your Current Firm and Stay Put

Slightly unusual article for a legal recruitment agency, but then we are slightly unusual!
Working in a solicitors firm you like and at the same time being paid the salary you feel you deserve are very often two separate things.

You probably accepted a salary offered when you first started with the firm some time ago and have seen little movement since. Indeed, our own anecdotal evidence from speaking to candidates is that the vast majority of solicitors firms in the UK have not offered their staff pay increases for a very long time.

Quite often the only way to get a pay increase is to threaten to move firms, be seen to be in the market to move firms, or to actually move firms. However once you go down this route it is usually irreversible – even if you remain with your current practice after handing in your notice or looking for other work it is very likely your relationship with colleagues will have deteriorated.

You will be back looking for alternative employment in no time at all (our recruitment software actually has a category for this type of candidate as it is a recognised industry rule of thumb that you will seek alternative work within 6 months).

So what if you could improve your package with your existing firm and not have to bother with the pantomine of pretending to move firms or the upheaval of actually moving firms?

Tips for Staying Put and Increasing Your Worth
1. Make sure you advertise yourself to your bosses. In my local cricket team one of our players always emails the captain at the end of the season to point out how many runs he has scored (if he has done well). He hopes to keep his batting position for the following year. When was the last time you reminded your boss of your value to the business, whether through mentioning a transaction you have just concluded, or the value of a case that has just been costed?
2. Keep an eye on your billing levels and once you are exceeding any targets start to advertise this to everyone else in the firm. The more people are aware of your ability to generate income, the higher the value of goodwill is in your own personal brand (business speak for ‘you’).
3. Insist on an annual or 6 monthly review of your performance. Don’t waste your time in this. Make sure you attend equipped with plenty of statistics and facts to promote your value to the firm. Do not let your boss take it over with comments about your work – make sure you stick to salary levels etc..
4. Work out how much you actually want to earn and aim to get to this level quickly. So – for example – if you want to be on an income of £45k within 5 years – what do you need to do? You will know yourself what billing levels are currently being achieved – how much extra work will you need to get in to generate the required amount? Is it ever going to be possible or do you need a plan B? Does the plan B include becoming a partner or shareholder in the practice? What level of investment will you need to take?
5. Have a long term plan. So many solicitors spend the middle part of their career stuck in a rut and fall into mediocrity without realising they are there. Retain some of your ambition and keep an eye on the future as it tends to be the past before you know it…

If necessary, make a move, but don’t just do it to show your current firm that you are valued elsewhere. Think very carefully before changing firms and ask yourself if you are making the move for the right reasons. Some candidates seem to move simply to spite their old boss, but in fact really like their current place of employment and then start feeling very unhappy in their new firm.

Cut the Clutter on your Desk and save time

I recently read an article about saving time – with tips including outsourcing everything you possibly can, delegating as much work as possible and avoiding meetings. One of the tips was to reduce the clutter on your desk because looking for documents and items can take up so much of your time.

These are the three things to do with paperwork on your desk:
1. Delegate It
2. File it
3. Bin it

Apparently most of the stuff we file away never gets seen again and in fact it would have been better to bin it from the outset. There is a professor in the USA who tips all his paperwork each month into a desk drawer and at the end of the month he throws the whole lot into the bin. I think this is extremely brave and would never dare to be so bold, but it is certainly one way to get rid of stuff off your desk!

There should be no paperwork on your desk at the end of the day – instead it should be in a filing tray, an action tray or the bin. Stationery should be in a desk tidy or drawer. Go and buy some trays at lunchtime and invest in a desk tidy for your pens. It makes the world of difference turning up to work to find a blank slate rather than piles of papers.

The Easiest and Quickest Way to increase your billing levels

There are 5 ways to increase billing levels – increase customers, get customers to buy more, increase the value of each transaction, increase prices or increase efficiency.

By far the quickest and easiest way, according to expert pricing accountant Peter Hill, is simply
to increase your prices. He issues a challenge to businesses – if you want to increase your profits in one, easy step, increase your prices by 5% immediately.

A quick example would be a conveyancing quote I recently had. We contacted three law firms to get a price on selling a field (sale transaction is less than £20k) and got quotes of £475, £400 and £200.

Thinking about it now – if the £200 quote had been £210 it still would have been the lowest price, and if I had been a bit distrustful of the low quote I would still have gone with the medium quote with a 5% increase at £420.

Applying this to our own business does not really work, because in recruitment most of our business is on a percentage basis and varies according to the salaries being paid, not the work put in. However to an hourly rate firm (ie a solicitors practice) this could make a big difference.

Assuming your firm (limited company) turned over £100k last year with £60k profits and paid corporation tax at 20% on the profits, you would have managed to make £48k after tax. If you increase your prices by 5% you would have turned over £105k, with £65k profits and made £52k after tax. The extra 5% price would have generated you £4k in net profit.

Not bad for just adjusting your prices slightly upwards.

The downside is of course the annoyed customer who wants to know why the price has just gone up. Peter Hill suggests that you should ignore them and concentrate instead on the vast majority of clients who are happy with the service and as a result will pay to stay.

Are you brave enough to try it? We are going to give it a go with one of our non-recruitment businesses. I’ll keep you posted with the results in 12 months time.

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 fee of just £60 per month (terms apply) or 15% one-off fees for permanent and 18% for locum. 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. He also provides a career coaching service to qualified lawyers and law graduates, although this is on a very selective basis.

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 £51,000 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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