September 2015 Legal Recruitment News

Welcome to the September 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).

Register Vacancies – Locum or Permanent

Legal Job Market Update
August has been fairly predictable – plenty of locum roles coming in, a few permanent positions starting to be registered (this will pick up in September) and still a busy legal job market. It has been very difficult to source conveyancers for immediate starts over the summer, but we have availability immediately now with a few of our regular locums.

Salaries remain at levels that haven’t yet moved but we remain optimistic that things will change shortly if the economy stays strong.

Conveyancing – still busy. Some firms seem to have given up even trying to recruit, although in other areas we are seeing a trickle of new conveyancing candidates looking for permanent work.

Wills & Probate has picked up a bit in August – still difficult to recruit for on the permanent side – and locum roles are now difficult to fill at the usual rates – a number of candidates are now commanding hourly rates that are usually beyond the budgets of most smaller firms.

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

Family Law has picked up a bit but remains fairly quiet for permanent roles. Locum work has been busier this year than last.

Litigation – both civil and commercial still quiet. The same applies for corporate commercial although locum commercial roles have increased a bit. In House roles have picked up but there seems to be a fairly high level of uncertainty with jobs being posted but then changing or being withdrawn.

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

Current live vacancies: 512
New permanent vacancies added in August: 40
New locum vacancies added in August: 70
New candidates registering: 50
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies August: 3.6 (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 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 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
02091811 Residential and Commercial Conveyancing Locum Solicitor available from the 7th September for 2 weeks and then from the 28th September onwards.
02091740 Wills and Probate Solicitor Locum available 2-3 days per week until the end of September and then full time.
01092030 Commercial and Residential Property Locum Solicitor available for cover in November – 4 weeks.
01091303 Conveyancing Lawyer looking for Permanent posts in Lincolnshire – Skegness and Boston areas. Reasonable salary expectations.
28081210 Conveyancing Solicitor available for locum work – national coverage. Can start 21st September.
01091741 Conveyancing Paralegal available immediately for permanent work in the West Midlands. £18k salary.
31081421 Locum Legal Cashier available for assignments around London.

Top 5 Tips for making sure you get the most out of candidates applying for your posts.

These tips apply as much to senior members of staff and managers as they do for junior staff. They are designed so that you get the most out of the recruitment process when they apply for jobs with your firm.

1. Make sure that the candidate is aware of the role he or she is coming to interview for.

This might seem fairly obvious. After all your practice manager telephoned the agency and told them you needed a conveyancer to work full time in your Chipping Camden office and this is what the candidate has come to be interviewed for.

However, does the candidate know that you start work in the morning at 9.30am and expect everyone to stop at 6pm? Do they know you want them to spend a day a week at your other branch 20 miles away? Have you told anyone that you close for an hour at lunchtime from 1-2pm? Are they aware that you make pension contributions each year of 3% of salary, offer a bonus structure of 20% of salary over 3 x salary and shut down between Christmas and the New Year? Have you indicated that part time work is available if wanted?

One of the main reasons candidates cancel interviews before they get there is because they are wary of exactly what is being offered and doubt it is going to be worth their while. Very often this is caused by a lack of information from the employer. We have often seen candidates turn down good roles because they have not been given enough information.

Think about preparing a pre-interview information pack for future employees. You only have to do this once but it can save time in interview and mean a candidate has lots of information available to consider before attending.

2. Ensure that the CV you have is complete and up to date.

I have to admit that sometimes, and only sometimes, we send out CVs that lack the full information they ought to have. Not necessarily our fault – quite often it is because a candidate has decided not to tell us everything we would like to know.

Take a CV for a conveyancing solicitor for example, applying for a permanent job. Chances are, as the employer, you would like to see some or all of the following:

1. Current salary levels.
2. Salary levels required.
3. Notice period.
4. Confirmation of exactly how much experience the candidate has in terms of years.
5. Types of conveyancing undertaken – eg have they covered new build, development work, staircasing, right to buy, shared ownership, freehold, leasehold, unregistered, agricultural, high value.
6. Number of conveyancing files open at any one time.
7. Billing targets and levels.
8. An indication of what they are looking for in a new role – ie career progression, partnership, reduced or increased hours, etc..

As well as all this just about everyone wants to see all the qualifications leading up to being admitted to the Roll or becoming a fully fledged legal executive. This includes A levels, degree, postgraduate courses and professional qualifications. So many people leave some or all of this off their CV when it makes a real difference to the overall impression.

3. Do not mess them about.

A real bugbear for us. If you are going to use an agency make sure you are aware of the terms before making an offer. Just occasionally, and it is very occasionally, we get a firm contacting us after an offer is made, a start date agreed and a candidate has handed in her notice.
“Please note that we are concerned about your fee and wish to negotiate…”

Wonderful. Whilst it is most commendable that you want to keep down your overheads and reduce the fee, doing this makes the firm look very unprofessional, untrustworthy for the candidate (who after all has just handed in her notice) and not likely to develop into a long lasting and fruitful career move. It is a bit like going into Tescos and trying to haggle with the cashier.

Similarly we have had offers by firms that are adjusted downwards when in writing. Never good practice.

4. At interview give them the opportunity to shine.

So many law firm interviews consist of the interviewer talking at the interviewee and not actually asking them any questions. Partners seem to think it is important to explain their ethos, where they see the firm going and their own plans for global domination. Interviewees really do not care. All they want is the chance to impress.

Make sure that when interviewing you let the interviewee speak and explain their talents. If they are a fee earner ask them to outline their caseload. Produce a file and ask them to go through it and explain what work is outstanding. Ask them some technical questions, but do not make them longwinded (I once sat in an interview where one of the interviewers had to explain to another interviewer what their question actually meant).

If you want to see how they react in a stressful situation make sure you put them under pressure during the interview, albeit in a friendly way, but it can be done easily with technical questions that probe experience and knowledge.

5. Ask them to produce a presentation/plan for the interview

It is standard practice in some industries, although not common in the legal profession, for the employer to request that the interviewee brings some sort of plan with them to the interview and present it. For senior lawyers this can be a new business plan, a plan to increase productivity in the firm, a plan to save costs for the firm. For more junior staff it can be a personal development plan – where do they see themselves in say 5-10 years time?

This can be a useful exercise for the employer – partly because it makes you think about your own plans and whether there are some ideas here that could be utilised, but also for the candidate, who then thinks about the interview in a business-like way and doesn’t just think about themselves when planning what to say.

For a senior candidate make sure you get an idea from them as to where they expect their business to come from and where it has originated from in their last role. Has someone else generated leads that they have been responsible for servicing? Have they been expected to go out and get work? What is their preference? I can think of plenty of candidates who are quite happy servicing work you may generate and others who would prefer to go out and get it themselves. If candidates are generating their own work it is often better to discuss incentives for doing this from the outset as naturally this type of candidate will be looking for a bonus to be paid at the very least.

Be careful not to ask for too much – some firms have been known to expect a detailed business plan and then been surprised when a candidate has decided not to attend the interview… Similarly do not ask for a copy of the plan at the end of the interview – candidates will be very suspicious if you request this.

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.

August 2015 Private Practice Law Firm Rates:
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-5 years PQE, handling residential standard sale price only – £26-30 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 – £30-£40 per hour, including central London.
* Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE – £35-50 per hour.
* Wills & Probate Solicitors and Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £35-43 per hour.
* Family Solicitors – 4-40 years PQE – £23-30 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

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 (hence our name). 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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