Legal Recruitment News Employers January 3rd 2012

Legal Recruitment Newsletter January 2012
Sponsored by Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment

Legal Job Market Report 3rd January 2012

November was a very busy month for Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. We had over 20 firms sign up to our £60 per month service from 1st November to December 20th and post over 50 vacancies between them. Part of this growth was fuelled by the need to recruit LSC family supervisors for the new contracts. There appear to have been a large number of new providers awarded a contract by the LSC and I wonder how many medium and larger sized firms have pulled out of LSC funded family work in recent years to allow such rapid expansion to occur…
December is always very quiet, although thanks to two of the LSC deadlines falling in the month we did not slow down until the 3rd week.
We are seeing a large increase in the numbers of firms looking to either replace staff or expand by using profit share or fee split schemes with any new recruits. Whilst this is a good way for expansion to occur without risking the overheads, I suspect it will continue to contribute to the exodus from the profession of solicitors in certain fields of law.
Locum posts remain fairly active, although these have dropped off in recent months. I suspect the market will get very busy in January.
Recent vacancies across all fronts have included: Personal Injury – senior and junior levels, Mental Health, Compliance Manager, Family, Immigration, Housing, Employment, Education/Employment, Commercial Contracts and Crime.
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.
In December the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment £720 a Year Service had 101 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.

Jonathan Fagan, MD Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. T: 0207 127 4343 or email: jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk

Candidates Registered December and January 2012 – A Selection

0301121 Locum Family Solicitor – Surrey and Hampshire. 6 years PQE. £20+ per hour.
0301122 Private Immigration Solicitor – London. Salaried. NQ.
0201121 Insurance Solicitor, Leeds or Manchester. £30k salary.
0201122 Prison Law Supervisor, London. JR experience.
0201123 Compliance & Regulatory Manager, Cardiff. 10 years experience.
0101121 Private Family and Wills & Probate Solicitor. West Yorkshire and Mancs.
3112111 Police Station Accredited Rep and Court Clerk. Telford and surrounds.
3112112 Commercial and Construction Solicitor, Guildford or London mid-sized firm.
3012111 Duty Solicitor, Crime. All locations. Salary from £32,000.
2912111 Family Solicitor with online operation experience. Swindon and surrounds.
2912112 Duty Solicitor with HCA, looking for a central London firm. Salary but may consider consultancy.
2912113 Family Solicitor with panel membership looking in the North East.
2812111 Personal Injury Solicitor looking to join a firm as marketing manager or consultant.
2812112 Crime Solicitor or Regulatory. Duty Solicitor. Exeter or further afield. £30-35k.
2812113 Conveyancing Lawyer, looking around Bath.
2212111 Crime Solicitor, Duty status, relocating from Manchester to central London. £30k min.
2212111 Commercial Contracts Solicitor, looking around the Home Counties. 15 years experience.
This is just a sample of the candidates registered in the last few weeks. Member firms get full access to our candidate database by paying just £60 a month.
To access the 8,500+ Candidate Database, please visit www.ten-percent.co.uk/membership-services

Predictions for 2011 – we rate the experts – how accurate were they?

Each year we see predictions for the coming year from the ‘experts’. It is rare to see an article tracing back and looking at how accurate they were, so this year we have included our own predictions and those of a few experts for you to see how accurate they actually were.

Ten-Percent Predictions – from our Jan 2011 newsletter:
1. The job market is going to heat up, with demand particularly strong for experienced career paralegals, support staff and legal cashiers. The reason for this is that a lot of firms are finding the need to take on more staff but feel that they do not necessarily need to recruit solicitors to undertake fairly straightforward transactional work and instead can get paralegals and unqualified executives for a lot less money.
Verdict: Sort of! The job market did heat up and start to go absolutely crazy in March/April/May, but unfortunately it went downhill again as the year progressed! Non-qualified demand has remained the same and our prediction re the lack of recruitment of qualified staff has not materialised.

2. Salary levels are going to stay low for solicitors. I do not see any improvement on salaries within the next 2-3 years.
Verdict: Correct! Salary levels have remained extremely low. In fact for some types of roles there are no salaries paid anymore.

3. The majority of experienced unemployed non-qualified fee earners will find work very quickly, and as this happens more firms will then have to look at recruiting solicitors again.
Verdict: See 1. Not really!

4. We think that by the middle of 2011 legal recruitment will be at similar levels to 2007-2008 and a lot of firms will be struggling to recruit good quality candidates in most areas, apart from NQ level in and around the South East and London.
Verdict: Wrong! Recruitment levels according to the various job boards who monitor this have increased back to 2007-2008 levels, but not for the legal profession.
5. The Legal Services Commission random changes will continue to affect legal aid fields, but we still expect to see a very busy period in April and October when the duty solicitor rota deadlines come up.
Verdict: Half right! Random changes have indeed occurred and seismic changes are possible in 2012, but hasnt this been the case for about
6. On the commercial side it will remain fairly busy but only at 2-7 years PQE. Anything too junior and too senior is not going to attract very much interest.
Verdict: Wrong! Commercial law has been very, very quiet this year and redundancies have continued.

7. Hotspots for 2011 will be: London, Kent, Yorkshire, South Wales and East Midlands. Coldspots: North West (especially Manchester), South West, East Anglia
Verdict: Half right! Yorkshire and South Wales have been very slow. East Midlands has not been much better. London and Kent have been our busiest areas. The South West, North West and East Anglia have been cold, but the North East continues to be suffering from a mini ice age!
Expert Predictions for 2011 – how accurate were they?
The CBI
The CBI forecasts two per cent growth in 2011.
Verdict: Wrong! 0.6 percent growth in 3rd quarter, 0.1 percent growth in 2nd quarter and 0.5% in 1st quarter.

The REC (Recruitment and Employers Confederation)
“Our market assessment for 2011 is that the recruitment sector will start to grow again following the 30% reduction between 2008 and 2010. We think the market will recover slowly driven by two factors the desire of individuals to change job – a factor which we know has been suppressed during the recession and secondly – many employers not just replacing those leaving but hiring to help meet increased demand from customers.”
Verdict: Correct. Shame this did not occur in the legal profession, but other sectors have grown dramatically – IT and Finance being the two main areas.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)
1) Another eurozone crisis – Spain and Italy have to refinance a combined €400bn of bonds by Spring, which could be the catalyst for the break-up of the Euro. “If the euro doesn’t break up, this could be the year when it weakens substantially towards parity with the dollar,” according to the CEBR.
Verdict: Spot on!
2) Slower economic growth – a double dip recession is unlikely on a global scale because of the strength of emerging markets. However, fiscal retrenchment in the UK will cause a significant drag on economic growth.
Verdict: Correct!

3) Germany will be the Western economic superstar – The CEBR believes German performance will be ‘stunning’ in 2011 due to the fact it is ‘in some senses subsidised by the Euro,’ and therefore well-placed to ‘set the pace in Europe.’
Verdict: Completely wrong! Not sure why the CEBR predicted this when in 1. they predicted a eurozone crisis!

4) A serious economic crisis in Japan – Japanese debt now stands at 200% of GDP. The need for fiscal retrenchment, a slow down in the growth of the Asian export market and an aging population paint a disturbing picture for Japan.
Verdict: Not really.
5) Inflation will be lower than expected – a curb on the price of commodities, and the reluctance of the US, the eurozone and the UK to raise interest rates will keep inflation in check.
Verdict: Wrong! Interest rates have not been increased in the UK – mainly because of the political backlash when 1000s of homeowners are repossessed?

6) A tough year for consumers – consumer spending will be flat at best thanks to a rise in VAT, depressed earnings and falling employment.
Verdict: Correct!

7) Two new technologies will rise to the fore – ‘cloud computing,’ which in effect is renting access to your server, and ‘telepresence’ whereby conferences are held in high definition and are so realistic you never have to leave the office.
Verdict: Hmm. Not really…

8) UK banks to start lending again – after successfully recapitalising, UK banks will start lending again in earnest in 2011 in part due to pressure from the government.
Verdict: Wrong!
9) A year of two halves for the housing market – weak disposable income will mean a weak housing market in the first half. In the second half, though, lending will become cheaper as competition to provide mortgages heats up. Prices will be broadly flat by the end of the year.
Verdict: Hmm.. not really!

10) Manchester United will win the league (Correct), New Zealand will beat Australia in the final day of the rugby (Wrong), Real Madrid will win the Champions League (Wrong) and India will win the cricket World Cup (Correct).
Verdict: Not bad!

New £720 a year Recruitment Service
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment is now a service for member firms and employers. A good percentage of our clients are high street firms, sole practitioners and firms with less than 5 partners. £720 a year covers all your locum, permanent, temporary and contract employment, legal support staff, qualified or unqualified fee earners. You get full access to our CV database and a range of job boards as part of the service. Further details by return email or on our website at www.ten-percent.co.uk/membership-services.

6 reasons given in December for moving firms
Our anecdotal evidence for staff remaining with firms or moving on is usually fairly simple, and not necessarily financially motivated. In a nutshell, if you have contented and motivated staff, they tend to stop with their firm for long periods of time, whereas if you don’t, they tend to move on. So what does this mean in practice? Our recent candidate registrations have had the following reasons for upping sticks:
1.       Redundancy or threat of redundancy. Still the main reason for looking for a move. Some candidates perceive the threat when there isn’t one.
2.       No prospects of career advancement or possible partnership – this can be a real issue for someone 4-7 years PQE.
3.       Distance commuting to their place of work – it may be that this person only took their post as a stopgap..
4.       Opportunity to cover a different angle in their legal field.
5.       Salary levels increase – existing firm should have been aware of this before the solicitor considered options.
6.       Personality issues with one of the partners – basically the candidate didn’t like the way they were being treated.
Apart from the move to a different approach to the law (ie private practice to government), the others can be avoided. Firms sometimes forget that that the cost of recruiting a new solicitor whether through legal recruitment consultants or the Law Society Gazette is at least £4,000 in time spent interviewing, training and the start up period… Certainly makes interesting reading. I am sure that often every employer takes their employees for granted (myself included), and this can have an effect on their attitude towards them over time.
Locuming as an alternative career for solicitors
At some stage in a solicitors career, this conundrum will almost always arise. It usually follows the stint of a locum in a firm for a longer period of a few weeks, and someone in the firm discovering that the locum is getting paid more than one of the junior partners for doing a much lower role within the organisation. Locum work is something of a legend in law. It is said that locums can be millionaires, and that they are constantly in demand, jumping from one post to another, generating vast amounts of income on a £60 per hour rate. The reality of the situation is somewhat different, although there is some truth that locum work is quite rewarding financially.

Most locums I come across fall into one of the following categories:
a) they want to find a permanent job, but havent been able to.
b) they are professional locums, just taking assignments to book up their year as wanted.
c) they have other interests – eg wanting to ski for 4 months each year, and work the other 8 months to pay for this.

Every year as well we get enquiries from candidates and sole practitioners who have got a bit despondent in their current post/set up, and then speak to a locum as above, finding out the vast rewards available to them. Usually on the high streets of England and Wales the locum rates fall between £18 per hour and £45 per hour, dependent on the length of assignment, the type of law and level of seniority. If an assignment has the potential of going permanent the salary is usually a lot lower, and also if it is long term – eg 6, 9 or 12 months, the money tends to be less.
Short term assignments tend to attract higher monetary reward, as they usually mean a firm is desperate for someone to cover so it is more of a suppliers market. Most of the professional locums work on a rule of thumb that they will probably get about 8 months locum work in every 12 months, although in recent years this has probably dropped to around 6 months. Locums have to be a certain type of person – there is no security in the work – and sometimes what is billed as a 12 month assignment ends up a 3 day contract due to other factors. Locums get no notice, and have been known to leave firms at lunchtime because the senior partner has changed his mind on their appointment. If you want to have a regular income and be able to pay your mortgage and outgoings every month from a set amount, this particular career path is definitely not for you.

How to save money on advertising – online and offline
This article is from one of our sister companies – http://www.chesterwebmarketing.co.uk/ – SEO and Digital Marketing Consultants for firms across the UK and overseas.
Firstly, try to get away from adwords. We see so many law firms using adwords to get themselves onto Google, but probably 60-80% of their clicks are going to be from competitors curious to see their website, or job seekers looking for work. The cost is tremendous, and you will probably be throwing money around for no apparent reason. Particular examples include low cost conveyancing, when the profit margins are slim anyway, or crime firms advertising for clients.
Secondly, watch your advertising in hard copy. Yellow Pages ads are vital to any law firm, and generate constant traffic. Do you really need a full page ad to attract in customers? Would you be better redesigning your current advert and including more content, making it look more professional and checking your keywords? There are countless examples of large high street firms with full page ads that look like a work experience student has designed them.
Thirdly, think about ways of advertising that cost next to nothing. The most important two of these are Blogging and Press Releases. In our local paper, one of the local solicitors firms seems to issue a press release if so much as a spider crawls across the floor in the office. The local paper is so desperate for cheap news, they print almost anything, and as a result the firm get infinite amounts of free publicity for their various services!
Blogging can cost very little. Invite work experience students in to the office to shadow you for a week, and in return ask them to prepare two articles for your online blog. Make sure the articles are relevant and based on keywords – eg if you are a firm in Littlehampton, you could get them to write an article on the law firms in Littlehampton, or even the nightlife.
These last two tips alone could save your company a lot of money and generate new business in ways you never imagined possible.
Contact http://www.chesterwebmarketing.co.uk/ for details of how we can assist you with the above and your organic search listings on Google, Yahoo and MSN. For evidence of our service in practice type “locum solicitor” or “solicitor recruitment” into Google, and see where Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and our Legal Recruitment BlogSpot sites are ranked (hopefully!).
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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 free 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/
Please email us details of any vacancies to cv@ten-percent.co.uk or register the vacancy online on our website.

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