Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Legal Recruitment News December 2021

Welcome to the December 2021 edition of Legal Recruitment News. It includes our legal job market report, locum hourly rates, advice on DIY legal recruitment, changing locum hours mid-assignment, making sure you are not the asset in a law firm sale, careers advice and suggested interview answers.

http://www.legal-recruitment.co.uk/legal-recruitment-news-december-2021/

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Legal Job Market Report December 2021

Here is our summary of the current state of the legal job market:


Locum Recruitment - Busy
The locum market still remains busy for this time of year than ever before, with a 100% increase in the number of assignments last month compared with the same time last year. We are starting to see availability for just about every assignment coming our way which remains a huge improvement on the summer season.



Conveyancing locums are available in most areas now. Other fields of law are generally not too bad at all, although family locums are a little scarce at the moment. Most corporate and commercial areas still attract a lot of interest, whether in private practice or in house.



Locum assignment updates here: https://www.interimlawyers.co.uk/category/locum-solicitor-updates/



Permanent Recruitment - Busy
There remains a shortage of good candidates for most jobs and we are now into the traditional dip in the market prior to the Christmas break. Most people have better things to do than apply for new jobs and usually the market drops completely until mid-January, which is good news for recruiters with Christmas shopping to do! However as most job interviews are still being undertaken via Zoom and Teams we anticipate interviews taking place right up until Christmas Eve, which does not usually happen. The decrease in new lawyers registering with us remains acute - we are 100% down this month again in new candidate registrations.



Vacancies can be viewed here: https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/vacancies/



Law Firms for Sale - Busy
Quieter this month than last, but a new national client seeking to purchase a number of firms quickly has pushed our workload up a bit from the usual dip in our workloads. There has been a noticeable change in potential values of firms downwards, courtesy we think of the hostile PII market in recent months.



Full list at https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk/law-accountancy-firms-for-sale/. For a confidential discussion about a potential sale or purchase please ring 01824 780937 and speak to Jonathan Fagan or email jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk.



Ten Percent Legal Recruitment Statistics



General Statistics for November 2021 (bracketed number is for November 2020)
New permanent vacancies added: 46 (25)
New locum vacancies added: 50 (20)
New candidates registering: 34 (88)



IHS Markit / CIPS UK Services PMI Report December 2021



Headlines
New business growth hits five-month high despite surging price inflation
Strongest increase in new work since June
Output growth eases slightly from October's three-month high
Input costs and prices charged rise at record rates in November



Summary:



A strong recovery in UK service sector activity continued during November, helped by the fastest rise in new business intakes for five months. Export sales were a key factor supporting growth across the service economy in November, with looser travel restrictions contributing to the steepest upturn in new business from abroad since March 2017. The latest survey data highlighted another round of rapid cost inflation, driven by higher fuel prices, wages and utility bills. Prices charged by service providers also increased at the fastest rate since the survey began in July 1996.


https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/legal-job-market-report-december-2021/

Law Firm Sales - making sure you are not the asset for sale


A recent law firm sale process has got us thinking about an issue that comes up quite regularly when it comes to selling a law firm, which is that very often a lot of the business coming into a firm for sale is flowing through and sourced by the person selling the practice.



A practice might have a senior partner, two or three consultants, junior fee earners and support staff. The owner will probably do the vast majority of the work but also it is likely he/she will also be the person who doesn’t want to carry on working once the sale has gone through. Sellers tend to expect a lump sum to be paid for the practice upfront and for themselves to leave and stop working within a period of a maximum of six to nine months.



Buyers on the other hand instantly see things differently. Feedback after some initial meetings can be that as far as they can see all the value is in the seller and there is very little else up for sale. The buyer cannot understand why a £400,000 turnover practice is for sale with a cash price of £200,000 if the main creator of all the work is going to be leaving the business within six months. As such, they can’t see any value and the most they can think of offering will be somewhere around the £25,000 to £30,000 mark.



This has happened a few times over the last couple of months and it is a common issue right across all kinds of business sale in all sectors. Countless business books have been written about the issue - planning for the future and extracting yourself from a business with maximum benefit. The main piece of advice is always that you should avoid making yourself the asset that is going to be up for sale.



Hire a Manager



This is easier said than done. I run businesses and I know how hard it is to recruit to take over my work so I can concentrate on other things, because I know as soon as I hand over part of the business that particular area will find the income dropping. I have the possibly inaccurate perception that someone else is not going to generate as much work as I do. It means that one day when I don’t need to work anymore and want to sell up, the value of my business is going to be lower than if I recruit staff who do that work and I simply manage the teams.



There are so many law firms right across the country where this is just not contemplated, for whatever reason, and lawyers carry on working without looking to take on other fee earners until they’re in their 70s and then seek to release equity from their practice even though they haven’t got a team to run the work if they retire.



Walk Away



This of course is all absolutely fine if your plan is simply to use the business to generate work and then when you want to stop you simply close down the business, pay the run off cover and walk away. No problem at all. However, if you want to sell your business and walk away with a lump sum from it, or you want someone else to pay the run off cover because it’s a huge amount of money, then you are going to need to think about this issue very carefully.



Step Away from Fee Earning



Do you really need to be doing the fee earning work or would it be better to simply find someone else to do that for you, and for you to concentrate on managing your business and growing it further? If you source a fee earner to do your work would you be free to spend more time generating new income streams?



Pros and Cons



Weigh up the pros and cons – the pros of doing it yourself are that if you do the work your business makes more money, you have no stress over paying staff, you don’t have to manage or supervise someone else doing your work, you know the work is going to get done properly. Cons – your business will be worth less when you sell it, you will not have any time to generate any more work but simply spend most of your time dealing with work you already have, your company will never grow substantially, your business will simply stay the same size.



Feeling Lucky?



I guess it all boils down to whether or not you are someone who likes to take risks. If you take a risk and employ someone to do certain types of work, if it doesn’t work out you can always let them go. If you don’t like taking risks then aiming at a disposal when you retire that simply results in someone else taking over the practice and avoiding run off cover is probably the safest and easiest thing to do.



I’m not always sure that the SAS motto of ‘he/she who dares wins’ always counts when it comes to business, but if you are thinking of selling in the next 10 years it is probably a very good idea to be thinking about whether or not you are the sole asset to your business, or whether there is a way that you can get out of this and set up a structure that you can then sell to someone else when you want to get out.



For further information and advice on buying and selling a law firm, please contact Jonathan Fagan Business Brokers at jonathanfagan.co.uk or by calling 0800 246 5016. We are always happy to have a confidential chat about future plans.


https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk/law-firm-sales-making-sure-you-are-not-the-asset-for-sale/

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Legal Recruitment News November 2021

Legal Recruitment Newsletter November 2021 from the Ten Percent Group of websites. Includes our legal job market report, locum solicitor hourly rates, article on high PII affecting the value of law firms, rewards & benefits in the legal sector, bad A levels and a 2.1 law degree - what to do and an interview question & suggested answer.

https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/legal-recruitment-news-november-2021/

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

I have bad A levels and just about to get a 2:1 degree. What should I do about it?

 

We have had a careers enquiry in from a third year law student asking us what he should do about his A levels. He has C C D at A level and is currently in his third year at university and expects to graduate with a 2:1 degree. He has been looking at job applications and noticing that a lot of law firms require very high A levels in order to apply. He has asked the question whether he should return to college and complete his A levels again in order to get the grades, or just apply anyway.

Advice

Our advice is to do neither. I think it is simply a case that this particular student needs to accept that because he has not got the A level grades required for specific firms it is unfortunately going to be their loss and his gain if he ends up somewhere else.

This of course does not help the particularly candidate in question, so looking at practicalities we think the best option for him would be to aim simply to qualify as a solicitor, and the route probably available to him is to look at high street law firms, local authorities and NGOs. These very often have more flexibility when it comes to grades and look at other issues rather than just high A level grades in order to determine whether to take someone on a training contract. It is highly possible that this particular student is going to spend a considerable part of his early career in paralegal work (if he can get it) and then use that to move himself into a training contract and later qualification.

We do not think there is any point in applying for firms where there is a minimum requirement at A level because they are going to get so many applications from students who do have the minimum required A levels that it would be a bit of a waste of time filling out the form on the whole. That is assuming there is nothing particularly outstanding that this student has done as well as their A levels, but in most cases this is simply not the case. Similarly going back to college to retake A levels for a year is a bit extreme when the student could be out gaining valuable practical experience and moving their career along that way.

As we say time and time again to both qualified and non-qualified lawyers that in most parts of the profession it is not your qualifications that will get you places, it is your experience. Whilst it is true that there is a higher tier of solicitors who earn huge amounts of money and work very long hours in order to do this, the vast majority earn less than £45,000 and work in smaller practices. They do not generally have particularly outstanding academic achievements or extensive qualifications.

Bear this in mind when applying for jobs. Do not get a chip on your shoulder about the fact that everyone else has better A levels than you and life is unfair, but instead deal with it. You sat the A levels, you got the grades and that is just the way it is.

So in summary, get work experience, concentrate on smaller practices and paralegal work potentially, consider not taking the LPC (or the new equivalent) until you have some work experience so you know that this is the career for you. We hope you enjoy a long and prosperous career in whatever you end up doing!.

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Legal Recruitment News October 2021

Legal Recruitment Newsletter October 2021 from the Ten Percent Group of websites. Includes our legal job market report, locum solicitor hourly rates, a long read article on the state of the conveyancing job market, how to explain bad things on a CV and an interview question & suggested answer.  

https://www.interimlawyers.co.uk/legal-recruitment-news-october-2021/

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Conveyancer Recruitment Shortage - the Perfect Storm

 

Conveyancer Shortage - the Perfect Storm (and a lengthy read)

There is a huge shortage in the conveyancing job market at the moment, with a shortfall of conveyancing lawyers in most law firms and increased amounts of work coming in. As I write this article in September 2021 we have already had reports from industry experts that the market would crash or drop after June and the end of the stamp duty holiday, and subsequently that the market would drop or crash at the end of September 2021 at the end of all support to the property market.

What these reports and predictions don’t take into account is that there have been seismic shifts in the numbers of conveyancers either looking for work or currently in roles.

A Brief History According to Ten Percent Legal

In order to explain the conveyancing job market a bit of history is needed. Back in the mid 1990s conveyancing was starting to be seen as the poor cousin to most other areas of law on the high street. The government had removed a whole load of different bits of regulation - solicitors could now advertise for work, they could set prices, drop prices, pay referral fees (to a certain extent) and generally take part in competition to bring down prices of conveyancing. The bottom dropped out of the market and soon pretty much every firm was heading rapidly downhill in the amount of money it could make out of conveyancing. The theory was that if protection for the market was removed, it would increase competition & effiiciency and therefore drive down prices with the work being done at the same level of quality.

What actually happened was that firms started making less money out of conveyancing, mistakes were made, professional indemnity insurance shot up and large operations started to appear to do vast amounts of conveyancing at low prices.

The Big Collapse

Fast forward to 2008 and the bank collapse followed by the property crash put an end to a lot of conveyancing business for quite some time across the UK. We watched as a legal job market driven by the property market and making up a sizeable chunk of our profits drop down to less than about 5% of our turnover and the vast majority of conveyancers either not looking for work under any circumstances because there wasn’t any to be found, and if there was any it would be done on a profit share, or moving out of the profession completely.

It got to the point where we were getting reports from conveyancing lawyers of many years standing that they were now earning more doing their part time jobs on the side to support their families than they were from the actual conveyancing work they were doing as well, whether on a profit share or part time or zero hours contract. We came across conveyancers taking roles as council planning officers and working night shifts in Tesco. Teaching and lecturing roles seemed very popular.

Slow Movement

This market remained in place for about four to five years with very little conveyancing work and recruitment going on. When there was recruitment the salaries were not sufficient to attract anyone back into a role, or to get someone to move from one practice to another. Certain law firms deluded themselves into thinking that there were lots of willing and able conveyancers out there happy to work for less than they would get if they were working as a HGV lorry driver, and this was not necessarily the fault of the law firms, who since the 1990s had seen their own profits plummet from doing conveyancing, and therefore were not in a position to pay very much more.

Also quite a few conveyancing solicitors had discovered locuming work, partly by accident, and did not really want to move back into a salaried permanent role. Locuming for conveyancing took off in about 2014 and has got busier every year since.

The Pandemic

However fast forwarding to the start of the pandemic and the property jobs market was nice and stable, consistent place, with a regular movement of staff from one firm to the next, a reasonable supply of conveyancing lawyers, whether locum or permanent, and a steady supply of work to most firms.

Unfortunately the pandemic then hit in March 2020 and the property market yet again went off a cliff. There was very little conveyancing going on because there were no viewings and no-one was allowed to travel to work. Pretty much everything across the economy stopped, but as usual the property market was excessively affected by all the seismic movements in the economy.

This meant that yet again conveyancers needed to be flexible and start to look at other options, whether within or outside the legal profession, and yet again there was very little work around for anybody who had found themselves out of a job at the start of the pandemic, or in need of locum work to sustain themselves.

Of course this meant that at about this time people were looking at alternative options, and therefore moving away from their traditional work of conveyancing into other things. So when we fast forward to the summer of 2021 and the huge amount of conveyancing going through law firms because of the stamp duty holiday and the sudden build up of savings in the economy, there were not enough conveyancers to do the work.

Conveyancer Shortage and £75k Salaries

Conveyancers who were available to do the work suddenly found themselves in huge demand for other firms who were, due to the amount of work coming through, suddenly able to pay increased amounts of money to attract staff. These increases in money meant that conveyancers were now able to start looking for alternative jobs, and in the same way that some houses across the country started to change hands at ridiculous prices, conveyancing staff found themselves being offered salaries by firms who used to offer £45,000 who are now putting out figures of £75,000 in order to try and get somebody in to cover the work.

Even so, we found that a good number of roles where firms were advertising at very high prices were still not attracting staff in because conveyancers who had been working flat out over the summer dealing with the increased caseload, were getting increasingly fed up of doing more of the same.

External Factors and Stress Levels

The conveyancing process is still incredibly creaky and much, much slower than it could be. From the various searches, title checks, each party arguing and communicating with the other through all sorts of different means without any set procedures, the Land Registry not being sufficiently staffed or automated, title maps not being sufficiently accurate to record ownership in all cases and delays being thrown up at just about every single stage of the whole transaction.

We know ourselves from anecdotal experience that when there is a delay in the sale/purchase of a property all the parties simply blame the solicitors. The solicitors then get contacted constantly by just about everyone even when its nothing to do with them!

All of this makes the experience for most people buying and selling houses much more stressful than it ever needs to be. No-one has ever managed to really get control of this and sort it out so that the whole transaction becomes so much smoother, without any need for lengthy discussions or interventions from different parties.

The reason I’ve included this bit in this article is because the pressure all of this puts on conveyancers for the work they do is tremendous and a lot of them find it to be so stressful they simply don’t want to continue. We get conveyancers contacting us fairly regularly looking for work in anything other than conveyancing and this has been the case now for a good number of years but dramatically increased since the pandemic.

The stamp duty holiday caseload has resulted in a number of conveyancing lawyers deciding they never want to do conveyancing again. Just to add to that is also the issue that quite a good number of conveyancers are older staff who have been doing it for long periods of time, and reaching the end of their career. Newer conveyancing lawyers coming into the market do a couple of years and then decide it’s simply not for them and move on to other things, to have less stress, shorter hours and better pay.

Conveyancing and HGV Drivers

So a little bit like HGV drivers, the market in smaller firms is top heavy with experienced staff who in turn work in their own way that may or may not include maximising the use of technology. This in turn causes issues for firms - we get a number of calls from practice managers who want to book a locum but are most apologetic because Bob Jones the conveyancer has his own way of working and most files are paper based and no remote working is possible (which in turn removes a large number of available locums!).

Locums - a Cog in the Wheel

Conveyancing locums provide short term solutions to increases in work or absence of staff, whether through sickness or annual leave. Unfortunately the recent pandemic has drastically reduced the amount of availability of conveyancing locums because a number of them have taken fairly well paid permanent roles, others are not willing to travel to do conveyancing work, others have become disillusioned at the sheer amount of work that was dumped upon them when the stamp duty holiday came in and simply don’t want to do work for certain firms, and others charge so much that firms cannot afford them. Similarly the market is aging and a number of locums are retiring completely (and others have passed away).

It has gone from a situation where if a conveyancing assignment came in to us we would be 80-90% sure of filling it or providing at least one potential locum to the firm for them to consider. In the summer we found ourselves being able to supply just one CV for every five conveyancing locum assignments that come our way, and even then it’s likely to be someone we either haven’t worked with before or charging serious amounts of money to do a job that would have cost a lot less a few years ago.

So where does this leave the conveyancing market?

If the cost of undertaking the conveyancing is going up then surely it is time to increase the cost per conveyancing transaction in the hope of reducing the work yet maintaining turnover and profit from doing less of it for the same amount of money. Easier said than done of course, and we know as much as anyone else that as soon as you increase your prices you lose business! However the one area we think everyone can improve their staff retention is to reward them in the good times wherever possible.

Allow your staff to benefit

Whilst increasing salaries may not be an option, firms perhaps need to look at their bonus structures and make it easier for staff to benefit from any boom in the conveyancing market, and to avoid the whole saga of conveyancing lawyers looking to move on as soon as the market gets busy because other companies are paying a lot more than yours.

Obviously partners of law firms will say, “Yes but in the quieter times we look after our staff and still pay them, so our staff ought to show us some loyalty when we stick by them in those times when we get to busier times and we take more of the profit”.

I entirely agree with this sentiment but it’s not reality. People who are not being particularly well paid in the first place will always look to move on if somebody comes along waving more money at them for the same work, provided there’s no other issues involved. It’s human nature and I think at times partners of law firms forget that everyone has to pay overheads and bills, and it’s easier said than done to retain staff solely on a loyalty basis.

Going forwards from 2021 it is highly likely that the market will drop down to more quieter levels as all sorts of new crises kick in and the property market quietens down a lot. It is these times when firms have to start thinking about the next boom and how they’re going to deal with it, and perhaps put things in place now that will enable them to survive in the longer term.

This article was first published as part of the Legal Recruitment News in October 2021 - www.legal-recruitment.co.uk

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Legal Recruitment News September 2021

 Legal Recruitment News from Ten Percent Legal Recruitment. Includes legal job market report, locum hourly rate guide, interview Q&A, law firm sales advice, locuming advice and more. 

https://chancerylane.co.uk/legal-recruitment-news-september-2021/

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Legal Recruitment News July 2021

Legal Recruitment News for July 2021 including age discrimination on CVs, selling law firms to non-solicitors, commercial contract manager vs in house legal counsel on job applications, salary reviews and hourly rates plus our legal job market report.  

http://www.legal-recruitment.co.uk/legal-recruitment-news-july-2021/

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Legal Recruitment News June 2021

 June 2021 edition of Legal Recruitment News. It includes the Ten Percent Legal Recruitment job market report, locum hourly rates, careers advice and suggested interview answers.

 

https://www.ten-percent.co.uk/legal-recruitment-news-june-2021/

 

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, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.