June 2009 Legal Job Market Report from www.ten-percent.co.uk

May 2009 has probably been one of the most disappointing months we have had in the last 4 years. The reason for this is because traditionally May, June and July have been our busiest months each year, but this year nothing much has happened. We often see dips in the level of business in the May bank holiday weeks, but this year it has simply been very quiet.
We have had 5 interviews, 1 job offer and 8 new vacancies since our last newsletter in April. 80% of these interviews have been for for employed positions with salaries.
In the recruitment press at present we keep reading of agencies who are bucking the trend, doing business in new areas, and taking the time to develop other fields. All of this is simply code for “we are not doing very much”. Similarly we would like to pretend that business is booming in legal recruitment, but it is not. If you look in the back of the Law Society Gazette recently, the amount of vacancies has dropped, and only 2-3 of the larger agencies are still advertising, possibly because they have tied-in contracts.
However – it is not right to say that as a result of this the market has completely collapsed. We are still getting vacancies into us and there are still fields of law and geographical locations where firms are short of candidates.
We are aware that there have been large numbers of staff laid off, but the vast majority of these have been from medium to large firms who have taken the opportunity to reduce their wage bill (rightly so as otherwise staring bankruptcy in the face!), and not necessarily because the work is not likely to be there in a few months time (or when the market picks up).
So in summary, the market is not good but similarly not completely gone. We are hearing of lawyers finding jobs across the UK in a range of fields whether by agencies or direct applications. Some firms have indicated that work has picked up and they will be looking to take on staff in the next few months. We have also assisted in the recruitment of conveyancing and private client solicitors where firms have struggled themselves to recruit, as finding quality staff is always different to finding quantities of staff..
As a guide on the recruitment front it has been reported recently that permanent recruitment across the UK is down over 50% in terms of level of turnover for recruitment consultancies.