Legal Recruitment Newsletter February 2012
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Legal Job Market Report 1st February 2012
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A Day in Court – does the County Court system work?
Low Cost Digital Dictation Outsourcing
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Legal Job Market Report 1st February 2012
January 2012 was a very busy month for Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment, but generally this was a strange time in recruitment. Firstly, although vacancies appear to be growing in number and even conveyancing posts have surfaced, candidates appear not to be responding in the same numbers as they were this time last year. We are getting plenty of new candidates, but a good proportion are outside the premium range of the 1-5 year PQE mark.
We are preferred suppliers to over 45 law firms, and they continued to post vacancies with us in the post-Christmas period. Recent vacancies include a receptionist post in Skegness, housing supervisor role in South London (over 5 applications from SQM LSC supervisors), Family Supervisor in East London, Duty Solicitor in SE London, Probate clerk and accounts manager in West Wales, private crime post in central London, family solicitors in Ashford and Dartford, mental health caseworkers in East London, child panel solicitor in Berkshire, locum conveyancing post in Reading, personal injury dept head in Hampshire, conveyancing in Bognor, family solicitor in Swindon.
The number of vacancies is picking up.
Reed, one of the national job boards we use for recruitment (included as part of the £60 service), have issued their employment market update today. Overall demand for staff increased in January, with a rise across the UK compared to December 2011. This is probably a fairly small increase, bearing in mind December tends to be the quietest month of the year for recruitment (apart from when a Royal Wedding occurs of course!). Month-on-month increases were seen in 20 of the 34 sectors analysed, with Charity & Voluntary, Estate Agency and Marketing performing best. Quite interestingly employer demand for Banking roles continues to decline, however, with a 76% drop in vacancies over 12 months.
Locum posts remain fairly active, although these have dropped off in recent months. The market is yet to get busy this year, despite my prediction in December that it would pick up.
The vast majority of the posts coming through to our recruitment agency services are now being posted by clients who have signed up to the £60 per month scheme for us to be their preferred suppliers.
In January the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment £720 a Year Service had 148 new candidate registrations (solicitors, fee earners and legal support staff candidates).
Jonathan Fagan, MD Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. T: 0207 127 4343 or email: email@example.com
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Our innovative new scheme offering all law firms the chance to cover their legal recruitment costs for just £60 per month for 5 years (and yes, we do mean all legal recruitment costs – there are no charges), enables you to control your recruitment budget whilst filling vacancies.
Some firms use us as sole suppliers, but others purchase the service as an add-on to their existing recruitment provision. After all, what have you got to lose? £60 per month to save thousands, potentially tens of thousands of pounds in recruitment costs? We estimate that since July 2011 firms using the scheme have already avoided recruitment agency fees totalling over £100,000.
We have over 8,500 qualified candidates registered with us. These include:
1,394 crime solicitors, police station reps and legal executives. Of these, at least 307 are duty solicitors and over 1,000 are 1+ year PQE solicitors.
1,988 conveyancing solicitors and legal executives. 1,205 of these have 3 years PQE or more.
891 wills & probate solicitors and legal executives. At least 100 of these are STEP.
702 commercial property solicitors. At least 490 of these are over 3 years PQE.
139 corporate finance solicitors.
126 legal cashiers.
935 personal injury solicitors, legal executives and fee earners.
627 corporate commercial solicitors. At least 360 of these are over 3 years PQE.
643 commercial litigation solicitors. At least 365 of these are over 3 years PQE.
237 solicitors and legal executives who describe themselves as professional locums (at least 500 locums on our books)
1188 civil litigation solicitors and legal executives
667 employment solicitors and legal executives
96 intellectual property solicitors
1,568 family solicitors and legal executives. We recently managed to get LSC supervisors for over 90% of the supervisor vacancies on our books before the December 2011 deadlines and every member firm had a selection of LSC family supervisors from us to choose from. One firm even managed to recruit within an hour of the LSC deadline expiring after signing up with us minutes beforehand. At least 960 of our candidates have 3 years PQE or more in family law.
774 of our candidates are based in the North West
952 of our candidates are based in the Midlands
785 of our candidates are based in Yorkshire and the North East
1138 of our candidates are based in Anglia and Essex
422 of our candidates are based in the South West
279 of our candidates are based in Wales
1765 of our candidates are based in London
1037 of our candidates are based in the South Central region (Hampshire to Oxfordshire)
939 of our candidates are based in the South East (Kent, Sussex and Surrey)
We cover all types of law, from high street through to commercial practice. Our member firms can recruit at all levels, whether permanent, locum, support staff or solicitors, fee earners and legal executives. Each vacancy is sent out to all relevant candidates on our database, posted on a variety of job boards, and via social networking including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Our related site, www.tenpercentfinancial.co.uk can also assist with the recruitment of IFAs and accountancy staff (included in the monthly price).
A full list of our member firms is available on our website. They include Kaim Todner in London, Morgans Solicitors in Cardiff, the Surrey Law Centre, Howells in Birmingham, Cavershams in Reading, Hodgkinsons in Skegness, Cleveland Solicitors in East London, Fosters in Kent and over 40 others.
Interested in finding out more? Reply to this email (firstname.lastname@example.org), call us on 0207 127 4343 or visit our website at www.ten-percent.co.uk
A Recent Day at County Court – is the county court system broken beyond repair?
It is not often that I spend any time in Court these days. As a director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment (and the usual person responsible for suing errant clients who fail to pay) I have made regular forays into County Courts across the UK over the years. However I am involved in a larger case at the moment as a witness. The case is fast track and hence large enough to warrant the use of Barristers and Solicitors, although Ten Percent’s related case is a small claims matter.
I spent a frustrating day observing just how much better the County Court service could be operated. There does not appear to be much justice going on but rather simply an administrative procedure running out of control, without very much thought for the end result.
The Court I was attending, which shall remain nameless, is in the London/South East area.
For example, the case I am involved with is piggybacked onto another matter, which is a fast track matter worth a five figure sum. My own case is a four figure sum and as a result is in the small claims track. Approximately one year ago the trial Judge in the matter we are piggybacked onto gave a direction that our case was to follow on automatically at the end of the fast track matter.
The Court administration staff promptly lost my file and failed to list it for a hearing.
This meant that I had to get up at 4.45 am, drive to Crewe Train Station, park for £8, pay £93 single for a second class ticket and get to Court without actually knowing whether or not our case was going ahead. However, once I had arrived at Court it was pretty clear that the our connected Fast Track matter wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry either.
The Court staff had lost the bundles of documents. There is probably nothing particularly unusual in this.
However I learnt today that the County Court we were in has a policy of disposing of all bundles to do with any case between each Court hearing. This means that if you have a Court hearing that is adjourned the Court will immediately throw away your bundle and expect you to prepare another bundle in time for the next hearing.
The Claimant in the case I am linked to has to pay £500 after each adjournment simply to ensure that this happens. There are over 1,000 pages of evidence in his case, yet the Court Service see fit to throw these bundles away and pulp them after each hearing.
It gets worse. The for the Claimant in the fast track case were aware of the policy of throwing bundles in the bin. At the last trial hearing the case was adjourned through no fault of either party, and the Claimant’s solicitors obtained a Special Dispensation for the bundles to be kept and not thrown away.
However, so distrustful of the competence of the staff at this particular Court were the Claimant’s solicitors that they actually instructed an outdoor clerk to attend at the Court a few days before the hearing to check that the bundles had not been thrown away. This they did, at a cost of c£100. It was duly confirmed that the bundles had not been thrown away.
However, when we attended for the hearing today the Court Usher informed the Claimant that in fact the Court had no record of his bundles and they did not have a copy of them. The Claimant and his solicitor were informed of the Court Policy and told that it was not the court’s problem.
When the Claimant’s solicitor challenged this and said that a Clerk had been paid to come and view the files and check they were there, the Court staff informed him that the files were definitely not there and the one filing cabinet in the building where files were kept had been checked thoroughly (this is a huge Court with many hundreds of cases going on every week I should imagine) by two members of staff and the bundles were not there.
After much imploring and pleading by the Claimant’s Solicitor, the Court Usher walked up three flights of stairs to do a last check herself (bearing in mind this is the third check for these bundles which contain approximately 1,000 pages) and after about 20 minutes she returned with the files.
This may not seem a particularly important point, but the cost implication of this was a wasted 35-50 minutes of Court time, the cost of the Barristers for each side in the case, the cost of the Judge and his court room time waiting for the case to come through, and the potential cost to the Claimant if the bundles had not been there because it would have had to been reproduced and re-printed for later hearings (at a cost of £500). Furthermore, the limited court time available on the day because of this delay and others meant that there was insufficient time to deal with the case as a full hearing even if it did go ahead.
My impression of the staff at this particular County Court is that they appear to be from a generation of civil servants who find themselves in a very fast moving and changing environment without the knowledge, equipment, resources or training to keep up.
The barristers and the judge continually went on today about costs. I kept a note of the time and I think that the time spent by Counsel and the judge going on about costs probably cost more than the actual costs that were being argued about! If I was a lay person attending these hearings, I would be horrified at the thought that I was paying for my barrister to sit and wisecrack with the judge, or discuss their own costs, discuss their own arrangements for getting to court and to hear the Judge’s own personal thoughts on litigation and the costs of it these days.
Images of the Charles Dickens novel, Bleak House, kept going through my mind. Nothing appears to really have changed. I sense that the litigation may have moved more swiftly if two solicitors had been sat there. Whether this is a fair comment based on my own limited anecdotal evidence, I don’t know…
My Suggestions for Improving the Efficiency of the County Court
Remove Judges from Trial Hearings
The Judge in our case seems to have forgotten hearings he has attended before and almost starts again every time we’ve been to Court. For example he’d forgotten today that he’d given a Costs Order at his last hearing 4 months ago, and in fact this was re-opened and argued yet again because of this omission.
In these types of cases, would it not better to have independent arbitrators, appointed by the court, taking the place of the judge? The arbitrators could take depositions from each side, consider the legal points, and make recommendations to the court for disposal. The judge could then read the paperwork, read the recommendations, hear any additional evidence if required and make an informed decision.
Get Rid of Bundles
The very thought of preparing document bundles in today’s modern world just seems completely stark raving bonkers. There seems to be no conceivable reason at all why a Court service charging the fees they do for use by Claimants and Defendants do not have facility for bundles to be put into PDF format. These could be put on computer screens to be viewed by everyone in the Court Room. If this were the case then I suspect the cases could be dealt with so much more quickly. An example of the case today was when Counsel for the Claimant referred to particular points in the case that fell in three different bundles on three different pages. And the Judge was struggling to even open one of the bundles because the file containing the documents had got slightly dented and he couldn’t turn the page over. We spent 10 minutes swapping bundles and working out where these pages were for a point made by Counsel that lasted approximately 20 seconds. I am aware that there are large-scale redundancies going on in the Court Service and resources get less and less all the time.
However my own experience of Courts is that when they are run efficiently they can function well and Claimants and Defendants in cases can get communications through and cases can be progressed rapidly. In Courts like the one I was in today, this simply does not happen and I wonder whether these Courts need to be identified as failure and someone give them a good kick in the proverbial behind.
If trials could be set down to enable applications to be heard within a limited time before they start and then the trial takes place come what may then perhaps speedier justice could be meted out on behalf of Claimants and Defendants. Afterall, the reason parties delay in civil cases is often nothing to do with justice or the case at hand, it is to do with squirrelling away assets so that the other party cannot get their hands on them, if that particular party is unsuccessful in its applications.
I fear that the Court is aiding and abetting Claimants and Defendants in this by failing to ensure that cases are brought to a speedy conclusion and at minimal cost.
What do you think? Is this critique fair or completely misguided?
A full version of this article can be found at http://www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.com/2012/01/day-out-in-court.html
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About Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment
Formed in April 2000, Ten-Percent is an innovative recruitment membership service run online for law firms and employers across the UK and offshore, offering fixed monthly fee recruitment to members. Over 1,300 law firms and companies have used our services, and we have over 8,000 solicitors & legal executives registered for opportunities, as well as other fee earners and support staff. We donate 10% of our annual profits to charity. http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/
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