Legal Job Market Summary 1st September 2009 from www.ten-percent.co.uk

The summer of 2009 has been one of ups and downs. We have placed good quality candidates into good quality positions, both in house and private practice, and had a busier July than we have had in about 3 years. In the last three weeks of August, we had more vacancies into us than for the previous 4 months, and there are definitely signs now that the market is picking up. A couple of conveyancing positions again were posted, although these were not particularly of a good standard, and the focus remains on contentious work.
 
We have had 17 interviews, 10 job offers and 28 new vacancies since our last newsletter in January. All of these interviews have been for employed positions with salaried roles. Smaller firms appear to be recruiting more than larger firms at present, and this probably relates to the smaller levels of overheads the high street and niche firms have to service. Some frustration on the recruitment side including the Legal Services Commission prevaricating over funding for a couple of clients and leading to the withdrawal of a couple of offers..
 
In fact whilst redundancies appear to have slowed down, some of the volume and insurance client firms are still laying off staff, and I suspect that this will continue for some time until their accounts are more comfortable. A good time to be a small business I think…
 
Recruitment is done in waves, and the next wave always starts in September, finishing at half term in October and then starting again January.
 
www.ten-percent.co.uk/weeklyreport.htm

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.

http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/weeklyreport.htm

2/3rds of Consumers Concerned about the Perceived Quality of Legal Services to be offered by Supermarkets and Banks.

The effect of this headline from the Law Society can be summed up in a few words:

Develop your Brand.

Apart from the actual question being somewhat loaded (respondents “agree that they would be concerned about the quality of services”) so slightly dubious, it demonstrates a key point in the world of marketing – you need to get your brand out there and known to your customers and future customers.

Clearly the word “solicitor” does not immediately dissuade potential customers from using your services if this report is correct, and in fact encourages them.

Are you doing everything you can to do marketing at low cost or for nothing? I recently noticed a press release online (free to do by the way) from a family solicitor discussing the recent split of Jordan and Peter Andre, which appeared to have attracted rather a lot of hits via an online press release website.

Have you issued press releases this month? Are you devising a marketing strategy to use over the next 4 weeks? What efforts have you made to find new clients in the last two weeks when Wednesday afternoon comes and you are bored? What incentives have you given your staff to bring new work into the firm?

Visit www.chesterwebmarketing.co.uk for any online marketing advice you may need including client generating, Google webmaster tools & analytics and online advertising.

How to recruit A List candidates not C List

Hiring is always hard.  One of the hardest jobs within a company is recruiting and hiring the right people.  It was really hard when the economy was doing well, but it can be even harder when times are tough.

Before anyone falls off their chairs in astonishment at this bold assertion, we mean it!  Recruiting in tough economic times can considerably harder than when times are good. In a downturn, the amount of resumes from C List candidates massively increases, whereas the amount of resumes from the A List will remain the same.

Firstly, assuming you always try to hire A List Candidates because they are just so much more productive than B and C List (an ‘A List’ is productive, smart and  has that ‘it’; the movie star factor).  This means that you will not settle for people who are good but instead hold out for people that are great.

Great people – the A-List – are a very different breed from the good (B List) and not so good (C List).  Great people are more likely to be employed with a company since a great person can be over 3 times as productive as a good person.  A study at Yale in 2007 found that the fastest students finished their workload as much as ten times faster than the slowest students (average was 3-4 times faster).

The (Un)Employed A List Candidate

In troubled economic times, anyone can get laid off, but a disproportionate number of layoffs tend to fall on C List Candidates.
This is because they are usually the lowest performing people in a company (and sometimes the highest paid) and there generally are more C List candidates at a company than any other.  Most large companies are chock-full of C List Candidates.

A smart company would (or should) never lay off a great person unless her/his job function is eliminated.  For instance, if a smart company had to lay off one of two members of staff with one being an A list and the other a B List, it will very likely lay off the B List employee and retain the A List employee. Again, this is the logic that smart companies should follow.  Then again, there are many dim-witted companies that lay off their A List Candidates for odd reasons and so you’ll find some great people out of those laid off.

Where to find that A List Candidate

Some A-List Candidates are less likely to be looking to jump ship during tough times due to job security or financial reasons.  They are happy where they are and more likely to work harder in tough times.  On the flipside there are A List candidates that are more likely to leave.

Tough times often push companies into a corner and force them into routine mode rather than innovation.  A Listers like to innovate and usually NEED to innovate.  It’s usually very hard to keep these type of A List Candidates caged-up and thus this presents a big opportunity for recruiting.

It’s also worth noting that A Listers are often first to leave sinking ships.  They don’t feel they need to stick around for a severance because they are confident they can always get another job.

A List type people are just really hard to find.  Let’s say for sake of argument that A Listers -players make up 1% of the population that could do the job, B-List Candidates are 19%, and C-List Candidates comprise the other 80%.  It’s uncertain if these percentages are accurate, but there definitely are more C-List Candidates than B-List Candidates and more B-List Candidates than A-List Candidates.

If people find out that you are recruiting it probably means you are going to get a massive influx of CVs from C-List Candidates. Many of these resumes will be indistinguishable from those of A-List Candidates (it’s often hard to distinguish on paper).  It’s important to screen for A List Candidates in order to get rid of all the dead wood applying.

Unfortunately, it is really hard to tell the difference between an A-List Candidate, B-List Candidate, or C-List Candidate just from a CV.

Which means you need to engage with candidates and therefore you’ll have far more candidates to deal with given this economic climate.  My guess – for a standard job announcement, you’ll have three times the number of C-List Candidates applying, twice the number of B-List Candidates, and the same number of A-List Candidates. 

One way to decrease the number of applicants and thereby increase the amount of quality is to specifically target candidates rather than to post a job ad.  If you register the vacancy with an agency we can identify A List candidates and keep the C List Candidates away from your organisation, saving you time, money and effort. The amount of telephone calls and enquiries that each vacancy can generate in a downturn can be overwhelming to any size of business.

Be sure to fill your company with only A-List Candidates and thereby creating your own A-Team.

www.ten-percent.co.uk – legal recruitment specialists.

Using Twitter to generate business

Twitter is the most recent internet phenomenon. It started with a simple question:

“What are you doing?” Yet, it has become so much more–relationship builder, marketing tool, community organizer, open conference line. Here are 3 simple strategies to have Twitter grow your business.
Setting Up Your Twitter Profile
Your Twitter profile is your resume–design it as such. When you follow people, they follow you, and in the course of any dialogue they are looking at your profile. So, make sure it quickly communicates what you can do for them and the benefit they will receive.
There are a couple of places you add this information:
• Twitter Name: Use your real name–it makes it easier to find you and follow you
• More Info URL: Make this your business website (it can be the company you work for, a blog, or affiliate site, but it should be where you make money or prospective clients can hire you)
• One Line Bio: This is 160 characters make it convert–keywords or benefit statement
• Background Image: Create a benefits and contact landing page–don’t forget your email address and telephone number

Value, Benefit, Contact–3 steps to building a profile that converts.
Add Value By Telling What You Do
With a solid profile in place it is time to drive traffic to it.
The quickest way to get more people to look at your profile is to find and follow prospective clients. Twitter has made this marketing research very simple–Twitter Search. Simply search keywords that you think people would use when looking for your service.
Follow the ones that are looking, talking, and promoting keywords related to your services in their Tweets.
Now that you have a few people you are following begin Twittering about:
• What you are working on
• Successes you are having
• Challenges you are thinking through
• Links to interesting posts and articles
• Links (in moderation) to your own blogs and articles

All the time keeping and eye toward your services keywords and quality (value) of each Tweet. You are going to build a following based on your Twittering, assuming it is interesting. If you keep your Tweets focused and keyword rich it should draw you a nice stable of potential clients.
Help Others Get Business Referrals
Also, within you following will be other people with complimentary skills and services. These are people that can help you on larger projects, as vendors, or simply as referral partners. To maximize this part of the Twitter opportunity make sure you are quick to refer someone if you see an appropriate inquiry.
Listen for Twitter Opportunity
The combination of a compelling profile, value added to the community, and reciprocity of giving out referrals will bring you opportunities. Tune your alerts and keyword triggers to listen for and highlight these inquires and you will see significant business opportunity flow from your Twitter network.

Six Sigma Theories – how can they be applied to law firms?

Six Sigma is a business management strategy, initially implemented by Motorola, that today enjoys widespread application in many sectors of industry. Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and variation in business processes.

To put this into a nutshell, it saves money.

It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization (“Black Belts” etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets (cost reduction or profit increase).

Six Sigma asserts that –
• Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results are of vital importance to business success.
• Business processes have characteristics that can be measured, analyzed, improved and controlled.
• Achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management.

Up until 2006 Motorola reported over US$17 billion in saving from Six Sigma. By the late 1990s, about two-thirds of the Fortune 500 organizations had begun Six Sigma initiatives with the aim of reducing costs and improving quality.
 
The main method of Six Sigma is called DMAIC:

• Define high-level project goals and the current process.
• Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data.
• Analyze the data to verify cause-and-effect relationships. Determine what the relationships are, and attempt to ensure that all factors have been considered.
• Improve or optimize the process based upon data analysis using techniques like design of experiments.
• Control to ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects. Set up pilot runs to establish process capability, move on to production, set up control mechanisms and continuously monitor the process.

There are many practitioners of Six Sigma but usually the senior practitioners are called Master Black Belts, the practitioners called Black Belts and the more junior workers with an understanding of the work are called Green Belts. In industry a Master Black Belt commands a salary or package in the region of £65,000-£110,000, depending on the level of experience.

If you would like to benefit from the services of a Master Black Belt you can contact a range of consultants who usually charge around £1,000 per day for their services on a one-off basis. Their success is measured in savings and so can be quantified quite easily.

Kaizen Sigma Lean Consulting are independent cost-cutting consultants who can assist your firm or business to look processes, save money and cut costs. www.kaizensigmalean.co.uk