Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Legal Recruitment News November 2019

 Legal Recruitment News November 2019 can be read here:

 Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Why are we so passionate about high executive pay in the charity sector?

I took a call today from someone who had read one of our reports on what we perceive to be high pay in the charity sector dating back a few years. We had identified a number of charities that we felt we could not support via the Ten Percent Foundation with any charitable donations, because we felt that their executive pay was too high and inappropriate for the size of the charity.
The Ten Percent Foundation incidentally is our vehicle for donating profits generated by the Ten Percent Group, as we donate 10% of our profits to charity every year. We do this by distributing the funds to charities we deem worthy and fit in with our criteria for donations.
One of the key criteria is a demonstration by the charity that they are not overpaying their senior staff. There are a large number of charities in the UK who pay salaries to their senior executives that we feel is out of proportion for either the size of the charity or the very nature of the charity being undertaken. For example a charity paying more than £75,000 to anybody is, in our opinion, paying too much money, and should not be permitted in the sector.
One of our arguments for this is that a good number of charities are out on the streets fundraising off the general public, or telephoning to raise funds, but if a charity is generating income of say £1 million per year but paying their chief executive £200,000 to run the charity, then clearly there is something wrong here as individuals on the street are not paying to fund that particular senior executive’s lifestyle.
What makes us particularly passionate about executive pay in the charity sector is that we donate via other charities as we are not set up to distribute the funds directly to where they are needed ourselves. Because of this we give money to charities to support particular projects. When we first started donating money to charities we found that some charities were almost reluctant to take our money as they were suspicious as to why we were giving it to them. Others actually wanted to charge us money on top of the donation we were making for things such as using their logos or for mentioning them on our website. Others, when we asked for information as to where the money was going, were more than a little bit shirty about telling us.
We started to look at the various accounts for the larger charities which are available at the charity commission website, and soon discovered a bit of a pattern emerging. There are charities out there who seem to solely exist to generate an income for the staff who work for them but don’t actually appear to do a particularly large amount of work with the money they are given. There are other charities out there that seem to have high levels of administrative costs that seem to outweigh the size of the income and expenditure that the charity is dealing with.
This particularly annoyed us because there we are earning the money to pay to charity, and discovering that the money we are earning and then donating to charity is actually going to pay someone else’s earnings. Whilst I have no qualms at all about supporting the earnings of say a youth worker in a deprived area, or a specialist nurse working in a particular type of cancer, we do object to paying considerable sums of money to a business development executive or marketing manager in a charity. Some of the charity accounts actually refer to the charity’s performance over a year, and the targets they have for fundraising, linking pay of their executives and staff to their performance over the year, and talking about improving the amount of money they have raised or received in donations.
We feel that all of this is dreadfully wrong and at some point we suspect the charity sector is going to be closely examined. It is not often the small charities that are the issue, but rather the big multi-nationals that have grown in time into huge organisations and fundraising vehicles.
It is not that long ago that charity fundraising was in the spotlight, and being examined for the shocking amount of sales that was going on, and the exploitation of people’s generosity. Whilst this seems to have calmed down a little bit, we still feel that the sector is regularly overlooked, and the government have not undertaken any investigations into the structure of charities for some time.
Senior executive pay in some organisations is set by committees or linked to external bodies that have prepared reports, which are always written by people at a similar level working in the same sectors, and therefore quite easily justifying the salaries they are receiving. We know of one charity that a few years ago was paying a chief executive almost as much as it was giving out in funds to worthy recipients, and that was not a lot of money for the size of the charity that it was.
We maintain a list of a selection of the largest charities and their salary spend - the most recent is taken from their 2018 accounts. For details please visit:

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Conveyancing Staff Numbers in the UK - a recent study

A client has recently asked us for some market data in order to determine where to open a new office. We thought it may be of interest generally so have published the information below.
Some years ago, we fielded a number of calls from firms around London wanting to open offices in Liverpool and Manchester. It took a while, but I eventually worked out that there was a management consultant based in the South East who had advised law firm partners that conveyancers in the North got paid less than office cleaners in the South! It is a myth of course and in fact one of the lowest salary areas in the UK for conveyancing is probably East London.
So here is our market data on candidate numbers for residential conveyancing.
We have 2,912 conveyancers of all shapes and sizes registered with us on our database out of a total of 11,973 candidates.
603 of these are located in London postcodes.
332 are located in Midlands postcodes.
217 are located in North East postcodes (NB this includes Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire).
189 are located in North West postcodes
419 are located in South Central postcodes (NB this includes Hampshire, Berkshire and counties west of London).
365 are located in South East postcodes (NB this is the area south of London - Kent, Surrey and Sussex).
136 are located in the South West.
102 are located in Wales.
497 are located in Anglia. This includes north London counties, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Majority are Essex and North London).
If I was going to open a conveyancing office and wanted to recruit 20 experienced fee earners, I would almost certainly aim at an office in and around Greater London. Costs may be higher, but recruiting staff will be considerably easier than a lot of other areas of the UK.
The figures above are for candidates who have registered with us and have active update settings on the system. I should add that it doesn’t mean that they are all looking for work at any time or that they would be necessarily interested in new vacancies.
So which are the hardest areas to recruit for? I would say the North East, the South West, North West and East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk). These areas have a low number of potential candidates.
Towns we would expect to get good responses for: Leicester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Chelmsford, Ilford, Romford, Dartford and E/SE London postcodes, Bromley, Croydon, Wolverhampton and Southampton. Leeds tends not to be too bad and Manchester is fairly average.
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Legal Recruitment News September 2019

Click the link below to read the September 2019 Legal Recruitment News

August Legal Recruitment News from the Ten Percent Group

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Case of the Unsuitable Candidate

The Case of the Unsuitable Candidate
We recently sent out a vacancy to the paralegals on our database. Ten Percent Legal Recruitment maintains a database of about 11,000 solicitors and legal executives, together with a good number of experienced paralegals. The vacancy was for a business immigration paralegal who had completed the LPC, had a minimum of 12 months business immigration experience, spoke Cantonese or Mandarin and was able to deal specifically with a specialist area of immigration usually linked to companies. It was clearly going to be quite a hard vacancy to fill but we were particularly interested by the response from one of the candidates.
The interesting candidate emailed us as follows:
"Dear Ten Percent Legal, I am not sure whether I should apply for this vacancy or not. I have not finished the LPC, I do not have a year’s business experience, I don’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin and I have never worked in the specialist area you refer to. Should I apply?"
You can imagine our surprise at receiving this application. The only qualifying feature of this particular candidate was that he lived in the UK and had got prior paralegal experience (without this he would not be on our database).
It is very common for recruitment agencies to receive lots of utterly irrelevant applications for vacancies we advertise. This is particularly so at paralegal level and legal support level including secretary roles. For example we only have to use the word “cashier” and you can just about guarantee that for a legal cashier role we will see an army of Tesco checkout operatives suddenly wanting to enter the legal profession. Similarly for a role in a specified geographical location such as Norwich, we can virtually guarantee that for every application that is relevant to the role we will see at least five coming from bar staff, hairdressers and social workers, all looking specifically for jobs in a geographical area and going for the scattergun approach with their job applications.
I often hear people complaining that they have applied for 100s of jobs but got no interviews and find this frustrating. I suspect that for the majority of time the scenario above applies. If you apply for a job that you are clearly utterly unsuitable for you can hardly expect a fairly small company to go to the trouble of emailing back to point out why you are unsuitable for it, when it should be clear to anyone that this is the case. I once worked out in a normal working day that if I replied to all the people who had been in touch to send a wholly unsuitable CV, I would probably spend most of my day simply typing out ‘sorry you are not suitable’ emails.
It is one thing to apply for a job when you might well just about fit, so for example if somebody puts out an advert for a conveyancing paralegal with 12 months experience and you only have 3 months, it is possible that in some cases they may consider you for the role if they don’t get enough applications from the actual level of experienced fee earners they are seeking. However, if you apply for a job where the firm want 12 months conveyancing experience and your only link to the job is that you worked in a pub in the same town for 6 months, then there is absolutely no point at all in you making an application to that job. Firstly, you have wasted your own time because it is unlikely you will get a response, secondly you will annoy the employer or agency you are applying to, and thirdly you would be much better off looking around for jobs that you can actually work in and are suitable for.
In the case of the unsuitable candidate we all had a look, decided to keep the email because it would make a good blog article, and here it is.
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

July 2019 Legal Recruitment News

Click the link below to read the July 2019 Legal Recruitment News.

A Member of the Bottom Feeding Fraternity of the Awful Recruitment Industry - Compliments from a Candidate

We recently took a registration from a new candidate who indicated that he was looking for work in a high street law firm covering general practice fields. As it happens, we occasionally recruit on behalf of an offshore law firm recruiting general practice solicitors and we included the candidate in a mailout in case of interest. He initially sent back a message "please remove me from your database so I stop getting this utter nonsense". We emailed back to clarify that we had only sent him one email and he replied "I applied for specific positions about which I have heard nothing. Instead I get some utter guff about [an offshore law firm]. I have NO relevant skills for that post whatsoever, as any even slightly completed (sic) agency would immediately appreciate. In spamming all those whose applications you have completely ignored, you have simply identified yourselves and (sic) yet another c.v. harvesting member of the bottom feeding fraternity of the awful recruitment industry. I would have more chance of flying to the moon for a job than you have of ever finding me one."
We really enjoyed this email - it reminds me of the immortal Monty Python insult "your mother is a hamster and your father smells of elderberries". We considered emailing this back to the candidate but then decided it was unprofessional. However we did look up the definition of "bottom feeder" in the Urban Dictionary (
Bottom Feeder equates to "leech", or in other words a total lack of responsibility to provide for oneself. Relies heavily upon friends, neighbors or anyone really for sustenance. a slacker through and through.
There is an example of the terminology, which illustrates it well:
"Bart wakes up and thinks to himself, "dang, I don't have any money still" so he leaves his wallet at home on purpose and later says to his friends, "Whoops, I forgot my wallet today again, could you please buy my lunch again?" what a bottom feeder." (Urban Dictionary).
I would probably agree with the candidate, he does have more chance of flying to the moon than us getting him a job..

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The Brain Drain from High Street Law Firms, caused by Large City Law Firms. Fake News?

I was recently telephoned by a journalist who wanted a discussion about a brain drain that was supposedly happening in the UK. Working on behalf of a couple of banks and their news feed, the journalist had been handed a brief to write an article about the supposed brain drain that was occurring from rural and town locations into a couple of large cities, which is where most lawyers were based. The journalist wanted to know if we had come across this phenomenon and if I could give him a quote about it. 
Thinking back, what I ought to have done was immediately record the conversation so that I did not have to dictate this and produce a new article entirely! But unfortunately I was not that fast in thinking.
As pretty much any solicitor in the UK will probably tell you, this particular assertion by the banks is virtually impossible to have occurred and is a non-news story, simply because of the wide divide between corporate and high street law. The journalist had been informed that solicitors practices on the high street were struggling to recruit solicitors because the large corporate firms in the cities were recruiting them all.
This exposed a deep misunderstanding in the way the legal profession in the UK is structured, and I am surprised that no-one in the banks concerned actually knows what the difference is between  varying types of law firms. So the first part of this article is entitled ‘city versus high street law firms’.
City v high street law
There are two different streams to law and it is important to understand the difference. The first of these streams is the corporate world, and the second of the streams is the high street. It is very rare that the two actually meet.
We understand that at present there are between 110,000 and 120,000 solicitors in England and Wales. From these 110,000+ solicitors probably around 85,000 of them work in high street or local authority roles that pay salaries of up to around £50,000.
These solicitors are collectively referred to as high street solicitors or, if preferred, non-corporate solicitors.
The remaining solicitors, probably around 25,000, possibly less than this, work in large corporate law practices. Their usual client range consists of blue chip companies and internationally based high net worth individuals with blue chip companies or large trusts. These are the corporate lawyers and there is a very large gap between the solicitors who inhabit this world and those who work on the high street.
The main difference is that corporate solicitors act on behalf of corporate bodies and in some cases large public institutions such as the NHS or the government. They very rarely act on behalf of individuals or undertake any types of law that relate to individuals rather than corporates or companies. The high street firms act on behalf of individuals and small businesses, commonly known as SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises). Payment levels are considerably less than solicitors who work in the high settings tend to have hourly rates to their customers billed at between £150 per hour and £300 an hour. City lawyers start their billing at around £250 per hour and head rapidly upwards.
As a result of these billing levels, salary ranges are astonishingly different. On the high street, as indicated, most solicitors earn less than £50,000 for the duration of their entire career. I should say that this is £50,000 per annum (i.e. per year) and this is because the returns from high street law tend to be extremely different to those from corporate law.
In corporate firms trainee solicitors can be earning £50,000 per year with the vast majority spending the overwhelming part of their career on six figure salaries, reaching well up towards the £250,000 to £500,000 income bracket. This is a very different world and one of the reasons the journalist’s line of enquiry was so wrong is that it is really rare for a high street solicitor to end up in a corporate law firm.
How hard is it for a high street solicitor to become a corporate commercial solicitor?
It is probably easier to get elected as an MP than it is to cross from high street law into commercial law. It does not happen and the vast majority of the 85,000 solicitors or so who practise on the high street or in similar types of roles will never see the inside of a corporate law office unless they take a second job emptying the bins.
This is usually because of the stringent entry requirements required to get into commercial law firms compared with the high street. To become a corporate commercial solicitor working in one of the large London practices, whether Magic Circle, Silver Circle or Legal 100, it is usual to have exemplary academics, good connections, an outstanding level of work experience prior to entering into the profession, and a whole wealth of extracurricular activity that lends itself to promoting particular candidates over others.
So for most corporate commercial solicitors it would be very rare indeed to see one with a 2:2 law degree or any A levels that do not have the letter A in them. Similarly one would expect to see a degree from a high quality Russell Group University or Oxbridge, details of top quality work experience on vacation placements with large London law practices, and plenty of extracurricular activities probably involving debating, team sport and a high level of attainment.
You would not expect to see a candidate with a 2:2 law degree from the University of Wolverhampton working for Clifford Chance. Please contact me if I am incorrect in this assertion as I would love to be able to highlight your case!
These are simply harsh realities and as ever with these articles please don’t shoot the messenger! Most high street solicitors will have similarly good academics, but just not as good as corporate lawyers unless they have deliberately chosen not to enter the corporate commercial field, as some do. There are benefits of not working for corporate commercial firms – having a family life or undertaking activities away from the office are usually two things that solicitors find difficult working for large London corporate firms who require 12 to 18 hour days at times, and put their solicitors under huge amounts of pressure to work flat out, including at weekends. Helpful if you are a workaholic, but a nightmare if you are trying to run a football team on behalf of your children for example.
Most high street solicitors will be quite content with their lot, but even if they are not, the chance of them moving into a corporate field and contributing to the total brain drain that a couple of banks appear to have invented is virtually impossible, and I have to say that if banks are thinking this there is something seriously wrong with their knowledge of the legal profession. 
What is a Corporate Commercial Solicitor?
During this article I have referred to corporate commercial solicitors but not really defined what these are. Corporate commercial law is a description that covers a wide area of law that usually relates to work being undertaken for large companies and commercial entities. So for example it will include the administration of companies, the drafting and approval of commercial contracts, the involvement of solicitors in the mergers and acquisitions of companies and other commercial entities, the finance that is going on behind the scenes to fund the activities of companies, and lots more besides. High street law and working for the private individual can be the conveyancing of property, the drafting and administering of wills (and of course probate after death), any litigation that individuals find themselves in, any litigation that small companies find themselves involved in (usually referred to as commercial litigation), and all other things that relate to individuals and small businesses rather than the intricate workings of corporate entities. It is quite an easy term to use to differentiate commercial work from high street work, and these two particular definitions should be considered in tandem with each other in the same way that contentious and non-contentious law are.