Careers Newsletter for Law Students and Graduates November 2011

Career Coaching in London – slots available on November 16th Training Contract Packs – available to buy online Legal Careers Question – 3rd class degree and graduate from overseas Personal Profile or Summary Sections on a CV – Are they necessary?
CV – what is the best way to send a CV to a law firm Law Student looking to progress career – how?

Welcome to the November Careers Newsletter from Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. We have included a number of articles that might be of interest to anyone looking to start a career in the legal profession. There are hundreds of similar articles available on our website to read through.

Our careers shop is currently offering The Ultimate Training Contract Pack for just £49.99. For details please visit

NB: We have had a few pieces of work come through our Legal Work Experience scheme in recent months. An LPC graduate got 2 weeks of employment tribunal experience through this and a graduate is due to be going to work in house for a couple of months in the North West very shortly. You have received this newsletter because you are already signed up for this.

The company also offers paid legal careers services – for details please visit or

November 16th – Legal Career Coaching Day in London We have a couple of slots available on November 16th in central London for career coaching. For further details please email us at or request a quote at

Legal Job Market Report 3rd November 2011

October has been a very busy month in legal recruitment. Traditionally the Autumn is the busiest time of year for recruitment, tailing off as we get towards Christmas. During October the job advertisement levels in the Law Society Gazette have reflected the level of business we have been doing. Some weeks the Gazette has been full of adverts and other weeks it has been quite quiet. Overall though business is up.  Conveyancing and Wills and Probate vacancies appear to be trickling back onto the market and we are getting wind of a number of these.

As we approach November 14th and the Duty Solicitor deadlines a good number of firms have been trying to increase their Duty Solicitor numbers within firms. It has to be said that this is a lot less during this year. Part of this I think is related to the fact that business through duty slots is considerably down on previous years.

I can be fairly confident of this because one of the large legal recruitment companies has decided to become an expert in duty solicitors in recent times and have been plastering the Law Society Gazette with adverts for freelance duty solicitors across the UK for a couple of large law firms.  I suspect that these firms are attempting to capture a significant proportion of the market so that when competitive tendering comes in the bigger companies will be in a good position to take a considerable chunk of the work at a low price per case.  I can see a time when the likes of Serco and Capita get involved in the crime solicitor market and one of the big players gets taken over and turned into a call centre operation with freelance advocates being paid a low hourly rate.

Freelance Duty Solicitors are strongly advised to think carefully before staying on a freelance basis unless they are picking up substantial work off their duty slots. There have been a number of instances in the last 12 months when freelancers have made very little money and therefore have accepted salaried posts as low as £27,000 to £30,000 as their freelance work has netted them so little over the past 6-12 months. Other fields have been busy.  We have picked up posts as varied as environmental law consultancy work in the Midlands, mental health, welfare benefit posts (very rare these days), corporate commercial, taxation and commercial property.

The vast majority of the posts coming through to our job board are now being posted by clients who have signed up to the £60 per month scheme. This means that all candidates are guaranteed consideration by the law firm they have applied to, provided they are suitable, and recruitment on the whole tends to occur after the vacancies have been advertised. Over the past 3 years we have had a large number of firms toying with the idea of recruitment and decided the last minute to pull out, wasting everyone’s time and money.  We hope the new scheme has erased this and that when a vacancy is placed recruitment occurs.

In October the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment £720 a Year Service had over 120 new candidate registrations (solicitors, fee earners and legal support staff candidates). The majority of our clients now interview and recruit directly (through our new service), so we no longer have an accurate record of interview numbers. A number of new firms and existing clients have now signed up to the new £60 a month scheme.

Legal Careers Question – I have a 3rd Class Degree from the University of Ife in Nigeria.  I have no legal work experience in the UK and I am not qualified.  What are my prospects of finding work?


I think that your chances of finding work are just above zero per cent. A 3rd Class Degree in Law virtually guarantees that you will not manage to qualify as a solicitor or barrister without a herculean effort and lots of extremely hard work.  Most people either give up or attempt to do something legally related but not as a qualified lawyer. Factor in the overseas qualification and you have reduced your chances yet further, coupled with the fact that you have no work experience, just about writes off any chance you have at all.

However, it is not the end of the world.  There are lots of options for you to consider and in the first instance if you are going to go into the legal profession you need to get work experience. I would say that the best way of progressing your career would be to go and get secretarial or administrative work.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to go and attempt to get temping work as a secretary with one of the high street agencies such as Office Angels or Pertemps.  This will give you the opportunity to get some practical work experience and see whether or not the legal profession is for you.

Your best way to progress a career if at all is to go down the Legal Executive route. This will enable you to work and get experience whilst you are studying and is a cheaper option, despite the ILEX (Institute of Legal Executives) becoming more commercialised these days and charging considerably more than they used to.

I think you need to accept that your legal career is going to be very much based on how much effort you put into it. It may also take you a long time to get any kind of progression in place.

If you persevere you may succeed in getting to your goal of qualifying, but this is going to take considerable effort.

Think carefully!

Personal Profile or Summary Sections on a CV – Are they necessary?

The first thing to say about a personal profile section is that if you have nothing to say, the best personal profile section for you would be an empty one and the space used more effectively for something else.

You only need a personal profile section to explain about six points. These are

1. Your job title

2. The number of years’ experience you have

3. Any particular tempting assets for a prospective employer

4. The location you seek work

5. How much you want

6. When you are available.

An example of this in a legal career context would be :

“A conveyancing solicitor with 5 years PQE and a personal following worth £120k, looking for a suitable post in North West London. Salary levels £40-£50k, notice period 2 months”.

By including this information it makes it possible for anyone looking at the CV to immediately see who the person is, and whether or not they wish to continue to read the CV or move onto the next one.

This section is one of the hardest to get right because if the personal profile is no good then it is highly likely that anyone looking at the CV will immediately form a negative perception of the writer.

The personal profile we have included above complies with the three second rule.

The three second rule is the theory that you have three seconds to impress the reader of your CV before they give up and move onto the next one or fail to take in exactly who you are and what you are looking for.

A personal profile that just contains a load of buzz words and subjective information is completely useless and a total waste of time and space.

An example of this would be

“A gregarious and outgoing law graduate with a can-do attitude to work. Possessing a sense of humour and an ability to achieve great things. Looking to progress career and demonstrate my great ability to any prospective employer”.

We see so many of these on CVs and it is sad to think that it is possible that someone somewhere is advising people to include this nonsense.  I would imagine that pretty much every employer would agree that this type of entry is a complete waste of time and effort and should be avoided like the plague.

If this is all you have to write on your CV leave the personal profile section off. Profiles are only really relevant if you have something specific to the post or type of firm you are applying to and if not then it is best to let the employer simply read what you have done to date in your work experience and your academic career.

How should I send a legal CV to law firms?

If you are making an application for a legal job or speculatively approaching a law firm for any type of position including solicitor work or paralegal/work experience, you need to make a decision on how you send your details over. Do you need to handwrite a covering letter, send a covering email or print out a covering letter to send with the CV? Is it better to post, email, fax or turn up in person? The answer to this is that it probably depends on the employer in question.

Howsoever, as a rule of thumb we would recommend sending your CV by email wherever possible. This is because it is easier to circulate in the office and to file, instead of posted copies which will just go in a pile or be thrown in the bin.

Attach your CV to the email and actually write the covering letter in the email. Do not attach the covering letter as it is unlikely anyone will read it and instead simply go for the CV directly.  This is particularly important if you have specific circumstances that need attention and you draw attention to those circumstances in the covering letter.

There is plenty of advice on this website as to how to write covering letters but in a nutshell keep it to 4 paragraphs maximum and don’t spend the time telling the employer about what a good opportunity it will be for you to join them. Instead spend the time telling the employer what the benefits are for the firm employing you.

Do not simply send the CV and then ignore the fact that you have sent it. Always follow up your CV with a chasing email followed by a telephone call within 7 days.

The telephone call is the hardest bit of looking for work and something the majority of law students find very hard indeed. In fact law students find this so hard most of them do not bother doing it.

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment – recruiting for the legal profession since 2000, donating 10% of profits to charity. Visit our website for details of our integrated recruitment service <>  for law firms and in house departments, our Vacancy Database <> , our Legal Careers Forum <>  and our Legal Careers Shop <> .

Head Office:
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment
Village Road

London Office:
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment
2nd Floor
145-157 St John Street

Although limited believes that this e-mail and any attachments do not contain any viruses or other defects which may affect your computer, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it does not contain viruses and limited does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from its use. Limited, registered in England and Wales, reg. no.3985515. Registered under the Data Protection Act.