Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Law Firm Websites - free assessment

26.09.07 Solicitors Firms Websites - some good, a lot terrible!

We have decided to offer a new service to law firms who register vacancies with us. This will be free, and the only catch to it will be that we must be allowed to publish an article on our site about our findings. We will analyse a firm's website free of charge.

Firstly, we will give the firm a breakdown of how popular their site is, what their ranking is for searches in Google, and how visible the website is (eg - have they linked with www.solicitors-online.com?).

Secondly, we will check the site for inconsistencies, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors popular with web designers.

Thirdly, we will rate the site on how efficient it is at what it is supposed to be doing - ie selling the firm, providing an online service, and setting the firm apart from others of a similar nature.

Fourthly we will give a forthright view on what improvements could be made - whether the site accurately reflects the firm, and does the job the firm wants it to.
We will then send all this information through to our client firms, and publish the same on our website. What have you got to lose? Well, you get a link from our site, which is usually high up on google rankings for our required keywords, and you also get free publicity for your website which you would otherwise not have...

Interested? Simply contact us with your vacancies, and give us permission to look at your site and name your firm on our site! Hopefully our directory will become a benchmark for the industry to look at, and publicise the website designers who are any good for law firms and solicitors, and those who are awful!

Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Future of the Legal Profession

25.09.07 Ruminations on the future of law and the legal profession

 An interesting report was produced by the Lord Chancellor's Department in 2006 that stated 'much legal work has the potential…to be systematised and automated and later to be packaged as online services or products and made widely available on the World Wide Web without the need for interaction between client and lawyer’

It is clear that the drafting of a wide range of standard contracts and agreements will fall within this, and that these traditional services will be replaced by online services. There is an enormous hole that is quite apparent in the legal market that has been called the 'latent legal market', referring to the innumerable situations in people's domestic and working lives when they need legal help. With the LSC gradually destroying the remnants of the legal aid system, more and more people are dependent on insurance products and the like to sort out their legal disputes.

The internet is going to become almost a battle ground as different business models vie for success. One possible approach would be the development of a website that functioned as a central reference point for anyone seeking information or advice on a legal problem, including general information, expert systems or intelligent checklists enabling a 'DIY legal service', and one-to-one advice online from a lawyer. Obvious content areas for such a site would be high street law, but also other areas such as financial advice are likely to be added in.

The legal services market is worth over £20 billion pounds in the UK. However there are still very few law firm websites that are any good or useful at attracting customers into firms.

Although the online legal market is a relatively new and as yet under developed area of ecommerce, it is possible to show levels of demand using just one demographic example. As the UK population increasingly ages, the 50+ age bracket now makes up the second largest group, or more than 20% of internet users. With much more time on their hands and an increasing wish to solve their legal problems using self-help tools, there is a potentially healthy and growing client base online.

This inevitable change in traditional legal practice in the UK and elsewhere was further suggested by the entry of supermarkets into the financial services industry. Although it has been joked about in legal circles for several years now, 'Tesco law' is already becoming a reality. Changes in legal practice regulations over the last couple of years and Clementi Report recommendations have now made this and other inroads the legal field a distinct possibility.

Tesco's and the RAC certainly think there is much scope and want to break into the world of soliciting big time! Who will be first to corner this market? Quite obvious really unless law firms decide to buck their ideas up and start looking at the future rather than the past.

A recent survey of law firm websites concluded 'when it comes to content - the crucial ingredient - they are deficient to the point of negligence' (Edward Fennell, The Times Law Report, 11th May 2004).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Solicitors becoming HIPS inspectors

21.09.07 How to become a HIPs inspector (perhaps there are crime solicitors who may want to make a bit more money?!)

Alternative careers for solicitors in years to come, or perhaps solicitors need to have a think about becoming both a home inspector and a solicitor - certainly looks easy money!

Cost is slightly prohibitive - I have seen courses costing about 7,500 plus VAT, which compare well with the LPC!

The work
As a home inspector you would produce reports on certain types of houses offered for sale on the open market in England and Wales. You would look at the age, condition and energy efficiency of people's homes and produce a Home Condition Report (HCR) and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Your key duties would be to: 
examine the inside and outside of a property
give each part of the building a condition rating based on a set scale
give reasons for each rating
recommend further investigation of defects that could be serious
give the property an A to G rating for energy efficiency and carbon emissions.
The HCR and EPC form part of a Home Information Pack (HIP). HIPs were compulsory for houses with more than three-bedrooms from 10th September 2007. EPCs are a compulsory part of the packs, but HCRs are optional. Visit the Home Information Packs website for more information about the Housing Act, HIPs and HCRs.
EPCs can be produced by both home inspectors and domestic energy assessors (see separate profile for Domestic Energy Assessor).
Entry
To qualify as a home inspector you will need to complete the Level 4 Diploma in Home Inspection (DipHI), which is awarded by ABBE (the Awarding Body for the Built Environment) and C & G (City and Guilds).
The DipHI is an assessment process that shows that you have all the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. It is offered through accredited assessment centres. The assessment centres will help you to compare your existing skills against the DipHI and plan your training around them. You can find full details on the ABBE and City and Guilds websites.
To get the DipHI you will need to complete:
a portfolio of work-based evidence that proves your skills and knowledge in all the units in the DipHI
an exam (for an example see the ABBE website).
The length of time you will need to complete the DipHI, and the amount of training you will need, will depend on how closely you already meet the requirements:
if you are a qualified and experienced residential property surveyor it could only take a few weeks
if you are new to surveying or work in estate agency or property management, but do not carry out surveys, your training will take longer
if you do not have any experience, you may need to gain a property-related qualification, such as a relevant BTEC HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree before starting the DipHI.
You may be able to do an intensive course to complete the DipHI. You do not need to have any surveying knowledge to do one of these, and the courses cover everything you need to complete the final exam and produce the portfolio of evidence for assessment. They last around 12 months.
Domestic Energy Assessor
If you just want to produce Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), you can qualify as a domestic energy assessor by doing the new Diploma in Domestic Energy Assessment. The diploma is provided by three awarding bodies – the ABBE, City and Guilds (C&G) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) (see Further Information for details).
As a home inspector you will be able to carry out both EPCs and Home Condition Reports. Domestic energy assessors will just carry out EPCs, but will have the opportunity to gain a ‘top up’ qualification to become home inspectors. See the separate Domestic Energy Assessor profile for more information.
Training
You must make sure that any training you do to become a Home Inspector is through an accredited course. Some centres offer both training and assessment and others will advise on suitable training.
You may be able to do an intensive course or study full-time, part-time or through distance learning, depending on your circumstances and the amount of training you need. See the ABBE website for a list of accredited training providers able to offer credits towards the Diploma in Home Inspection.

If you do not have surveying qualifications or experience, you will need to get some practical experience (in addition to your classroom-based training). Some training providers may organise this, or you may be able to get experience:
by approaching local surveying practices or larger surveying companies to see if they will offer you some work shadowing
through your current employer if you are involved in relevant fields such as estate agency, construction or housing.
The portfolio you produce for the DipHI must include 10 inspection reports, covering a range of property types. If you already have surveying or inspection experience, some of these could be reports you have already done. At least three reports must be in HCR format – your assessment centre will advise on how to complete your portfolio.
Before you can work as a home inspector you will need:
membership of an approved certification scheme
a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check
personal indemnity insurance.
The organisations running approved certification schemes are:
SAVA
RICS
BRE
After qualifying you will be expected to keep your skills and knowledge up to date by continuing professional development (CPD).
Further information
National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
Arbon House
21 Jury Street
Warwick
CV34 4EH
http://www.naea.co.uk
City and Guilds
Tel: 020 7294 2800
http://www.cityandguilds.com

Home Inspector Careers
http://www.hicareers.co.uk

Home Information Packs
http://www.homeinformationpacks.gov.uk

Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE)
Tel: 0121 331 5174
http://www.abbeqa.co.uk
Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Charitable Donations - criteria

20.09.07 Ten-Percent Foundation Criteria for selecting Charities for donations
Since April 2000, Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment have been donating 10% of annual net profits to charitable causes. This started with the princely sum of £500, to the last tax year of 2006-2007 resulting in about £8,750. To date we have donated £30,000, but what on earth led us to donate money, and where do we donate to?
All the money we donate goes to the Ten-Percent Foundation, a charitable trust, that took copious amounts of effort to set up by me, a solicitor not used to dealing with administration of this kind! The charitable trust has a number of aims that hopefully encompass supporting third world projects, the alleviation of poverty in the UK, and promotion of society within our local communities.
When we started out, we got a lot of calls from professional fund raisers, who frankly annoyed me intensely, although I understand why they are there. It frustrated me that I could be donating money to a good cause, that resulted in paying a salesman's wages, whereas I want to give money to fund particular projects and observed the results.
This has been our mantra ever since. We only give money to charitable causes where we can see the end product, so a charity has to give us details of a specific project. For example we have been supporting Send a Cow for a few years now, and they have always kept us updated with information as to where our money has gone, and what difference it has made to a specific group of people.
We like smaller sized charities as well, and when a solicitor indicated one to us this year, we felt we wanted to donate £2,500 to them, which I think was an overwhelming chunk of money that paid for a large part of their work. Contrast this with some of the larger charities spending millions on projects, I always find the process much more enjoyable as you get more involvement.
Recruitment doesn't have to be boring!
Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm
The content of the careers centre is intended as guidance only. It has been written by Jonathan Fagan LLM MREC Cert RP, the managing director of Ten-Percent and its' family of legal recruitment websites. Jonathan Fagan is a non-practising solicitor, author of the Complete Guide to Writing a Legal CV and the Guide to Interviews for Lawyers. He has recruited for law firms across the UK and overseas in all shapes and sizes. If you have any questions that we have not covered above, please contact us by calling 0845 644 3923, or emailing us at cv@tenpercent.co.uk

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Candidate Newsletter - Autumn 2007

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment http://www.ten-percent.co.uk
Candidate Update Autumn 2007

1. Legal Recruitment Market Report - updated 13/09/07
2. Age Discrimination
3. Open Plan Offices - loathed or loved?
4. Flexible Working Hours and the legal profession
5. Newly Qualified - what do I do?
6. Online legal recruitment blog
7. Vacancy Database online - new and improved
8. Let us do the work! - head hunting with a difference
9. 2007 Charitable Donations
10. Let us recommend you - our findasolicitor service

Welcome to our Autumn newsletter, sent out to candidates who are registered with us on our database. If you do not wish to remain on the database to receive new vacancies, please email us the word 'remove' and your full name to cv@tenpercent.co.uk . If you wish to remain on the database, but not receive these updates (sent quarterly), please email 'no updates' with your name to cv@tenpercent.co.uk

1. Market Report (full report - http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/weeklyreport.htm)

2007 has been a very busy year for most recruitment companies, as the market has expanded in most sectors, and contracted somewhat in the LSC funded work areas. For permanent placements the fields of law are shifting. Crime remains awful, although picking up slightly. Conveyancing is good - lots of work on both the temporary and permanent side coming in - although again London central not moving very fast. Other areas appear to have a bit of a shortage. Personal injury - not very good, although commercial and civil litigation have picked up slightly.
In the temporary fields - TP Locums - http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/locum.htm - is finding increased numbers of assignments out there as firms struggle to attract new blood into firms, and are finding it easier to take locums for contract work and then ditch them when any source of work dries up.

It remains the same as always at NQ level - just not getting the vacancies into us in the same quantity as previous years - there are firms out there interviewing at present, and there seem to be increases across the board in the amount of work available. More and more of our recruitment is now focused more on experience rather than qualification.

Commercial litigation remains a barren wasteland, although we have had a couple of commercial litigation posts into us now, including an NQ one (second since 2004!). Commercial property remains busy, and there is a real lack of any candidates in that field at times. Property litigation as well seems to be the 'in' thing, and I expect this to increase in time, as more and more issues arise for the new generation of landlords out there.

2. Age Discrimination and Newly Qualified Solicitors
Things have not changed very much at all since the new laws came in from our perspective - I rue the days spent reading all the legislation and attending courses! Our agency has never discriminated on any front, and I have been happy to put forward 70 year old lawyers for NQ jobs if they wish me to. Firms can do as they please really - if they want to ignore an application they will do, but just dress it up as something else. Still lots of ads for NQ-3 years PQE solicitors, which employment lawyers were advising recruiters to cease doing. I have noticed an increase in firms taking on older solicitors, which is good.

3. Open Plan offices and solicitors - we have found that a lot of solicitors loathe them! Read full article..

4. Flexible working hours and the legal profession - partners can be blind to the benefits of part time solicitors - Read full article here

5. Help! I'm going to be newly qualified - how do I find a job? Full advice here

6. Online Legal Recruitment Blog - interview questions and answers, advice for negotiating pay rises and career progression

I regularly add articles to my online blog about legal recruitment techniques and guidance on interviews, candidates, recruitment processes, salary levels, increasing fees, marketing, advertising etc.. You can view the blog by clicking here.

7. Vacancy Database Online

If you would like to see our full lists of vacancies, simply click here to visit our online searchable vacancy database.

Alternatively, to make a change to your registration or job searching area, please email us at cv@ten-percent.co.uk

8. You do the head hunting, we do the work!

Did you know that Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment offers a mail out service? If for example you are a 4 year PQE conveyancing solicitor wanting to know what opportunities there are in North London, we can contact every firm in the area within 72 hours, and let you know of anything arising. There is no charge for this service, and all information is strictly confidential. We do all the work - sending out a CV once you have approved the firms who are interested, arranging the interviews etc.. Contact us at cv@ten-percent.co.uk to express an interest. We simply need the geographical locations you are interested in, type of law, current salary levels and notice periods.

9. Charitable Donations

This year we have given money to one of our candidate's own charities helping school children in Africa, supported an ongoing SendaCow project, assisted regional projects being run by the Stroke Association and the Parkinson's Society, and given money to two local charities to pay for the upkeep of a horse for the disabled and purchase a garage for a small playgroup/breastfeeding support group. For the year 2006-2007 the company donated over £8,500 to the trust. Further details of the work of the Ten-Percent Foundation can be found here

10. Find a Solicitor

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment offers a findasolicitor service to the general public for free. If you would like your firm to receive recommendations, simply email us to tell us why, and the areas of law, and we will add the firm (or you) to the list. There is no charge for this service.

I look forward to hearing from you if we can assist. Over 4,500 solicitors and legal executives have registered with us since April 2000, and we offer our services to all UK firms, large or small.

Regards

Jonathan Fagan
Director
Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited
www.ten-percent.co.uk

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Autumn Newsletter for Employers

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment http://www.ten-percent.co.uk
Employer's Update Autumn 2007

1. Legal Recruitment Market Report - updated 10/09/07
2. Age Discrimination
3. Free Candidate Placements
4. Free Guide to Recruitment and Retention of Staff
5. 2007 Charitable Donations

Welcome to our Autumn newsletter, sent out to firms who have requested candidates from us or used our services in the previous 12 months or so.

1. Market Report (full report - http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/weeklyreport.htm)

2007 has been a very busy year for most recruitment companies, as the market has expanded in most sectors, and contracted somewhat in the LSC funded work areas. For permanent placements the fields of law are shifting. Crime remains awful, although picking up slightly. Conveyancing is good - lots of work on both the temporary and permanent side coming in - although again London central not moving very fast. Other areas appear to have a bit of a shortage. Personal injury - not very good, although commercial and civil litigation have picked up slightly.
In the temporary fields - TP Locums - http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/locum.htm - is finding increased numbers of assignments out there as firms struggle to attract new blood into firms, and are finding it easier to take locums for contract work and then ditch them when any source of work dries up.

It remains the same as always at NQ level - just not getting the vacancies into us in the same quantity as previous years - there are firms out there interviewing at present, and there seem to be increases across the board in the amount of work available. More and more of our recruitment is now focused more on experience rather than qualification.

Commercial litigation remains a barren wasteland, although we have had a couple of commercial litigation posts into us now, including an NQ one (second since 2004!).

Commercial property remains busy, and there is a real lack of any candidates in that field at times. Property litigation as well seems to be the 'in' thing, and I expect this to increase in time, as more and more issues arise for the new generation of landlords out there.

2. Age Discrimination and Newly Qualified Solicitors
Things have not changed very much at all since the new laws came in from our perspective - I rue the days spent reading all the legislation and attending courses! Our agency has never discriminated on any front, and I have been happy to put forward 70 year old lawyers for NQ jobs if they wish me to. Firms can do as they please really - if they want to ignore an application they will do, but just dress it up as something else. Still lots of ads for NQ-3 years PQE solicitors, which employment lawyers were advising recruiters to cease doing. I have noticed an increase in firms taking on older solicitors, which is good.

3. Free Candidate Placements

Although you can use our standard contingency recruitment service (ie we find you a candidate, you pay our flat rate), did you know we also offer a service guaranteeing discounted rates and free candidates if placing more than two in any 24 month period? Our retained consultancy service offers discounted advertising in the Gazette, discounted rates on our fees, and free candidates if we place more than 2 with you. Visit our website for further details.... http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/er.html (follow the links for 'Fixed fee sole supply and retained services').

4. Free Guide to Recruiting, Interviewing and Retaining Staff

A free guide available simply by clicking here. Although some of the advice is fairly logical (ie do not throw things at your staff), there are plenty of tips and guides into considering things from the employee's perspective, and thinking about the way you both treat and behave in front of your staff.

5. Online Legal Recruitment Blog - advice for interviewing, recruiting and retaining staff

I regularly add articles to my online blog about legal recruitment techniques and guidance on interviews, candidates, recruitment processes, salary levels, increasing fees, marketing, advertising etc.. You can view the blog by clicking here.

6. Candidate Databases Online

If you would like to see our full lists of candidates, simply click here to visit our online searchable candidate database.

Alternatively, to register a vacancy and let us do the search, simply click here to fill out our online registration form.

7. Charitable Donations

This year we have given money to one of our candidate's own charities helping school children in Africa, supported an ongoing SendaCow project, assisted regional projects being run by the Stroke Association and the Parkinson's Society, and given money to two local charities to pay for the upkeep of a horse for the disabled and purchase a garage for a small playgroup/breastfeeding support group. For the year 2006-2007 the company donated over £8,500 to the trust. Further details of the work of the Ten-Percent Foundation can be found here

I look forward to hearing from you if we can assist. Over 4,500 solicitors and legal executives have registered with us since April 2000, and we offer our services to all UK firms, large or small.

Regards

Jonathan Fagan
Director

Monday, September 10, 2007

Interview question - interests and hobbies?

Interview Question - activities and interests.

A common question in an interview is to ask the interviewee what interests and activities they have outside of work. It is an interesting question, as it tends to throw a lot of people who have spent many years studying followed by many years working. However I have noticed something during my time as a recruitment consultant, which is that those who make it in the profession tend to have something they do out of hours which is interesting or sporting.

It is rare to find a lawyer who just does law, reads the paper, and watches football. There is almost always something else there, whether it is playing rugby for a local team, working as a volunteer for a local charity - you name it they do it.

My advice to anyone joining the profession is to look for something you do that will make you stand out of the crowd - what about taking up a new sport or hobby, and getting so into it you are able to talk about it passionately? It doesnt have to be anything particularly outlandish, just something interviewers can talk to you about. It may even make you more interesting as a person....

Jonathan Fagan - Legal Recruitment - http://www.ten-percent.co.uk

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sole Supplier Agreements - Recruitment Agencies

05.09.07 What is a sole supplier arrangement for a recruitment agency?

A sole supplier arrangement is one where a recruitment agency handles all the aspects of recruitment for a specific vacancy or length of time. Firms can benefit from being able to hand over the entire recruitment process from start to finish, with the exception of the interview itself. We offer this service, and usually also offer discounted advertising in the Law Society Gazette as well. Where you see this in adverts (usually a sole supplier will put "please note that this ad is being handled on an exclusive basis by Blogs and Blogs and all third party applications will be forwarded through to them") it means that a recruitment agent is handling the post as a supplier.

I once handled a Bermudan job on a sole supplier arrangement, and fielded in the region of 200 telephone calls in a week. I had over 40 applications to put forward from about 75 CVs received. Lots of applicants - can't think why! The workload can be tremendous, depending on what type of vacancy you are advertising, and having a consultant deal with it can also result in extra applications, as approaches can be made anonymously.

For details of our service, please visit our employer pages at www.ten-percent.co.uk/er.html and follow the links. Quotes available by return email.
Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Training Contract assistance

04.09.07 "Hello, I'm an LPC graduate, can you help me find a training contract?"

The very quick answer to this query is usually no, followed by a very pregnant pause. The person telephoning almost sounds surprised! I am more surprised that someone has been on our website, found our details, and managed to miss just about every warning we have on the pages that we simply cannot assist potential trainee solicitors and LPC graduates as there is no market out there for them..

My next piece of advice is pretty much the same - you will find that virtually every other agency will say the same thing, and you will probably be wasting your time calling round. The best thing to do is to look on our website and follow the career centre links, clicking the law student option, and download our free guide to finding a training contract and work experience. This contains a sure fire way of getting work experience, a foot in the door, or even an elusive training contract!
There is a lot of competition out there for places, and unless you are out there selling yourself to everyone and concentrating on the task in hand, you will struggle to find a training contract. Phoning round agencies is probably not recommended...

Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm