Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

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.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Things not do when instructing recruitment agents

Here is our guide of what not to do when sending a vacancy to a recruitment agency in the hope of them finding you someone suitable. I appreciate from the outset that you may well be reading this thinking why would I want to instruct a recruitment agency anyway!
1.Do not send an email to twenty five recruitment agencies and cc. them all in to the same email. Do not address your email to Dear All, and if my name is Jonathan, please do not say “Hi Kevin”. We have heard it said that if you send a generic email to lots of recruitment agents, it makes them work all the more harder to recruit the right person for you. This is completely wrong. What actually happens is your email comes into the office; we read it, groan inwardly and then almost certainly ignore it unless we have anything better to do. We don’t want to work a vacancy with twenty four other recruitment agencies. The most desperate of the bunch will work the vacancy and the rest will have better things to do. The reason we do not want to compete with twenty four other recruitment agencies is because everyone has access to the same CV banks, the same job boards and you can virtually guarantee that even if we were to find someone on our system that other recruitment agencies didn’t have, then someone somewhere will have sourced the same CV at some point and sent it over to the firm in question. In my experience in recruitment we have never once successfully placed a candidate with a company where they have given us a list of recruitment agencies they are working with.
2.Do not include the words 'client following’ anywhere on your job description. Asking for a solicitor or lawyer with a following (i.e. their own clients) is like asking for a solicitor who is a qualified plumber and able to speak fluent Lithuanian whilst standing on her head. The vast majority of employers have restrictive covenants in place that expressly prohibit any member of staff from approaching clients and taking them with them to a new firm. There are a few here and there who have sources of work that they can tap into and loosely count as a following, but generally these do not exist. If you send us a vacancy asking for a conveyancing solicitor with lots of description, and then add ‘and a client following’ then the chances are you will not get much of a response.
3.Do not set us out a list of strict expectations for a vacancy where there are likely to only be one or two applications. Here is a quick example: a firm based in Swindon looking for a residential conveyancing solicitor on a full time basis, starting as soon as possible with specific experience of a certain case management system - no applications from anyone who has not. The problem with this is that there are lots of different case management systems and the chance of finding someone looking in Swindon at any particular time working on one particular type of these is very difficult indeed. Try to be as broad as possible to attract the candidate. After all, you can always reject unsuitable candidates but if you have restricted the field so much that you don’t get any candidates to reject, the whole exercise becomes a little bit pointless.
4.Do not send us a vacancy and underneath include the amount you are expecting to pay the agency to work for you. There are certain law firms out there who are notorious for doing this, and they tend to be based in the most difficult areas to recruit, and have the most outlandish expectations when it comes to sourcing staff. Why not wait and see what applications you get in before you start considering how much it is going to cost?
5.Don’t send rude emails. Recruitment consultants are mostly human and some of us even have a bit of pride in our work. I don’t particularly like working for clients who email us to say that we are a scourge on humanity but they are prepared to use us anyway.
Recruitment consultants (or at least professional ones and not the type who act like estate agents) want to help you, because that is their job. If you send me a vacancy and don’t recruit one of our candidates I still take professional pride in dealing with you and also with the candidates who get details of your vacancy.

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.

Legal Recruitment News April 2019