Welcome to the December 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).
Legal Job Market Update
November has been a mixed month, with the usual locum assignments ending as work drops off for Christmas and permanent roles increasing. We have started to see the longer term locum roles coming through and some unexpected permanent recruitment – maternity leave cover and departing candidates contributing to this.
The demise of Blavo & Co and the sudden influx of candidates onto the market around London has been interesting, mainly because a lot of the solicitors out of work are from legal aid fields and the market is such a mess courtesy of government & LAA cuts and changes. Some candidates have experienced a reluctance by other firms to recruit them – presumably for fear of any future possible action arising from the closure – but others have found it relatively easy to get alternative work.
It will be interesting to see what happens to personal injury work with the new Small Claims limit proposals. We have seen a number of firms and companies close down in the last 6-12 months and I suspect this will continue.
Conveyancing locum work has now dropped off completely – which is quite normal – and other locum work is mainly litigation with a bit of wills & probate.
On the permanent side we have seen a few crime posts coming in as firms who have been awarded contracts are looking for supervisors (this is exactly the same pattern as occurred when the family contracts were awarded – basically a number of smaller firms who have not done much crime are now doing it and medium sized firms who were doing crime for many years are probably no longer doing it!). We have availability for conveyancing and commercial property locum work in most areas (short term easier to get than long term) but wills & probate remains difficult.
Conveyancing – still busy and difficult to source candidates for at the moment. Hopefully this will change next year, but unlikely. Salaries have still not gone up enough to lure candidates away from secure permanent roles. The Law Society have today released a report showing that the top 1,000 conveyancing firms have seen property transactions increase in the third quarter of 2015 by 20% – could this be related to pension releases and the right to buy schemes? Private Eye have compiled an interactive map of all overseas owned property in the UK – can be viewed here – http://www.private-eye.co.uk/registry – quite fascinating to look at – is it evidence of overseas investors driving the market or simply existing owners adjusting their ownership to be more tax efficient? Will the stamp duty changes on 2nd homes and buy to let properties slow the market down in 2016 or will it go completely mad in the first quarter as potential purchasers get in there quickly to avoid the additional charge?
The property market has certainly changed and now seems to operate with a London bubble at one set of prices (mostly unaffordable to anyone on an income of less than £200k) and the remainder of the country completely separate to this. In recent times we have spoken with a candidate who spends his time flying to Singapore and Shanghai to attend property investment seminars and sign up investors to purchase blocks of flats in London, with a solicitors firm linked to him undertaking the related conveyancing transactions. A good amount of work around London appears to have been with overseas investors purchasing properties and conveyancing undertaken at high speed to accomodate the demands of the investors.
Wills & Probate – still difficult to recruit for on the permanent side – salaries again are not doing enough to tempt candidates away from current roles – and locum rates are still high.
Commercial Property remains difficult although locum availability has increased. There still remains a gap between the salaries applicants seek and salaries being offered by law firms.
Family Law has been surprisingly busy on the locum side. Permanent roles not really cropping up.
Litigation – both civil and commercial still quiet but locum work has been surprisingly busy (although we have to say that some of the assignments have been poor in quality). In House roles quiet.
November 2015 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies up
* Locum assignments up
* Conveyancing vacancies busy
* Commercial Property vacancies busy
* Wills & Probate vacancies – some
* Commercial and Civil Litigation vacancies – few
* Family vacancies – few
* Market outlook – rising (it has remained busier this year than it has been since 2006).
Current live vacancies: 578
New permanent vacancies added in November: 46
New locum vacancies added in November: 42
New candidates registering: 100
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies November: 3.5 (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 sized 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of our websites.
How to cope with sudden redundancy
A slightly unusual article, but a subject that crops up every year just before Christmas when firms finally get round to making a senior member of staff redundant after 20 years..
Losing your job without any notice can be one of the most stressful things you will ever experience in your working life. The thought of waking up in the morning without a job, without any money coming in at the end of the month and without anything to do can fill people with horror and cause serious damage to anyone’s mental health.
So what are the best ways of coping with the unexpected?
1) Check your finances
This may seem like common sense but so many people just panic without actually looking to see how much money they have in the bank, how much they are owed (there are various statutory obligations on the government to support you if you suddenly lose your job and have wages owing) and any likely future expenditure in the next couple of months. Work out how much you are going to need to spend to survive over a period of say three months, and calculate whether you have the money in the bank to cover these overheads. Look at any money you plan to spend in the next 3 to 6 months but are not yet obliged to spend it. For example, if you have thought about booking a holiday or planned to purchase a new car it is important to look at these costs carefully and decide whether or not you still feel able to afford them in the worst case scenario.
2) Think of the worst case scenario
Some people put their heads in the sand and do not consider what could happen in the short-term and long-term future if they do not find another job quickly. If you are highly experienced with lots of skills that other employers are going to want to see, then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem finding another job even if the pay is less. However, if you are in your late 50s, early 60s with skills and experience etc, you may find it a bit harder because of the subconscious age discrimination that will no doubt follow you around as you make job applications. Think of what would happen in 6 months if you haven’t been able to find a job and calculate what expenditure you are going to need to find in the meantime.
3) Falling into a new job by mistake.
Quite a few people take roles quickly in the same way that people have relationships after ending a previous relationship and regret it after a few weeks because they have jumped into it too quickly without thinking of the consequences. Think carefully about a job move and having calculated the financial position and thought about the worst case scenario, do you still need to jump into the first job that comes along or have you got some time to think about it first?
If at all possible try to think about it first.
4) Don’t panic!
Do not panic. This has to be the best advice to give you. People lose their jobs all the time and it is quite common. Do not think you have done anything wrong – sudden redundancy is often caused by a system failure rather than a personal failure. Try to concentrate on the positives that are going on in your life and do not think about the negatives. Although there is stigma attached to not having a job, it is so common these days for people to move jobs every few years rather than stay in them for long periods of time, that no one is going to particularly hold it against you.
Best Advice for Securing a New Role
Don’t forget to contact your ex-employer to ask one of the managers or anyone at the business if they will write a “to whom it may concern” reference for you. This reference should confirm the dates you worked for the business, the opinion of the manager or writer as to your experience & skills and whether they would be of benefit to another employer, and confirmation that they would most certainly employ you again given the opportunity. The letter should finish by explaining why the employment has been terminated suddenly and apportion no blame to you.
This one piece of advice will be very useful for you in applying for other roles as you can send the reference with the CV to anyone you are making a job application to so that they could see the circumstances surrounding your sudden departure.
Finally (and in summary) – don’t panic. Really. It is not the end of the world – it could be the start of something new and exciting…
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. NB: These rates are intended as a guide only. Hourly rates can vary according to the location, duration and level of expertise.
Nov-Dec 2015 Private Practice Law Firm Rates:
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-5 years PQE, handling residential standard sale price only – £25-30 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 – £25-£35 per hour, including central London.
* Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE – £30-45 per hour.
* Wills & Probate Solicitors and Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £30-40 per hour.
* Family Solicitors – 4-40 years PQE – £22-28 per hour. Occasionally this goes up to £35 per hour for short notice or a few days cover.
* Civil Litigation – 1-35 years PQE. £25-33 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
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CV Writing Tips for Senior Solicitors
Senior solicitors deciding to try out locuming or looking for roles after a long time in the same post tend not to have a CV prepared. It is very easy to do, although if you want a template you can purchase one at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. If you want to prepare your own CV from scratch these simple guidelines ought to enable you to do it and to make sure your CV stands out and presents you in the best possible light. Each section is described in detail.
This section goes at the top of the CV and contains all the information the reader needs to instantly see, which includes your name, your postal address, your email address, landline phone number, mobile phone number, nationality, confirmation of a driving licence.
For a locum, it is very important to have a summary of who you are and what you are looking for and capable of offering. This is usually a very simple two or three sentence paragraph outlining what you are able to offer. A quick example of this would be :
“A conveyancing solicitor with over 30 years’ experience in a range of law firms from small to large, dealing with both residential and commercial conveyancing. Able to assist with registered and unregistered land, leaseholds, full high value property development work and most other aspects of conveyancing. Available to cover across the country for both short and long-term assignments with an hourly rate of £35”.
This summary means that the reader can instantly see what experience you have and what you are able to offer without having to read the whole of the CV.
The education section comes next and this needs to be fairly brief if you are looking at locum work. The first entry needs to be the fact that you are a solicitor or legal executive and the date you were admitted to the roll or gained your legal executive certificate. Underneath this you need to have confirmation that you have completed the professional skills courses, the law society management courses if relevant together with your undergraduate university degree, legal practice course/law society finals and the CPE/GDL if relevant.
The class of your undergraduate degree can be very useful particularly if it is a 2:1 or 1st Class. Confirmation of A Level grades can also be good if you have straight As or Bs, but GCSEs or O Levels simply need to be stated and the number. Make sure this section is in reverse chronological order.
The next section is your work history and this needs to be in full from the moment you left school through to the present day. Professional locums will often have a list which is at the end of the CV detailing every assignment they have been on in the past 10 to 20 years. This does not always work well but it’s usually recommended by ourselves and other recruiters. Start with the most recent first and work backwards and ensure that you include plenty of detail about the work that you are actually able to do.
A good way of doing this on a locum CV is to have an extensive list of bullet points broken down into different sections covering all the different work that you have undertaken and are capable of assisting with, and then underneath this having a reverse chronological list of all the assignments you have undertaken, and permanent roles covering the whole of your career back to school years (or university).
It is an ongoing theme of recruitment that a couple of words on a CV can catch the eye of the recruiter and make the difference between you being booked for an assignment and you being ignored. Information that is of particularly interest is the number of files worked on at any time, confirmation of the different types of law within your field that you’ve covered, any evidence of other areas of law that might be of interest to a recruiter (e.g. wills and probate for a conveyancing solicitor) and exact examples of types of cases dealt with (whether contentious or non-contentious law).
The next section should be your computer and language skills which for a locum is of extreme importance. So many locum assignments now require locums to be able to handle their own IT and admin work – the CV needs to confirm that you are able to undertake your own typing or are prepared to deal with your admin work, or that you can handle a case management software system. Include the name of the CMS If you do not know your typing speed it can be worth going online to do a typing test. The easiest way of doing this is just to type “free typing test” into Google and seeing what speed you get. For a fee earner anything over 40 words per minute is quite good. A good secretary ought to be able to type at about 70 words per minute.
Activities and Interests
The next section is activities and interests and again this is not one of the most important sections on the CV when locuming but it can be of use because it identifies you as a human being rather than an automaton. A quick few bullet points detailing what you like doing in your spare time can make the world of difference.
Finally you need two references on the CV if possible. Better still is to have two “to whom it may concern” reference that you can send out in full with the CV every time it goes to a recruiter. However if you do not have these then full names, addresses and contact email/phone numbers will be very useful as well.
There is no such thing as a perfect length of a CV but we usually recommend making sure your CV is at least 3 pages long, if not longer, in order to get the information into it that we would like to see.
Finally always send the CV as a word document and not a PDF. PDFs cause terrible problems despite looking more professional than a word document, but considerably harder to use across differing systems.
How to be a Locum – pdf guide
We have produced a 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 www.interimlawyers.co.uk – 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.
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment also owns Interim Lawyers, a specialist locum service. We operate an outsourced UK based typing service as well – www.uk-transcription.co.uk 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. 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. The next round of donations are due in Jan-Feb 2016.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our newsletter and look forward to hearing from you if we can assist further.
T: 0207 127 4343
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Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor, qualified recruitment consultant and Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here – www.linkedin.com/in/jbfagan
Legal Recruitment News is produced by Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment – you can view all versions of the e-newsletter at www.legal-recruitment.co.uk. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment was established in 2000 and donates 10% of profits to charity, hence the name.
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