Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Monday, March 31, 2008

Recruitment Director slams 'irresponsible' Law Society Gazette

Jonathan Fagan, managing director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment, slammed the Law Society Gazette this week for its continued unsubstantiated reporting of opinions of academics and commentators predicting the end of the high street end of the legal profession.

Mr Fagan said, after reading an article in the Law Society Gazette on the 20th March 2008 about Professor Stephen Mayson, an academic speaking at a conference in London, who effectively predicted the shedding of half of all qualified solicitors and hence the collapse of many 100s of law firms in the next 4 years:

"I find it incomprehensible that the Law Society Gazette would continue to report on an ongoing basis that the legal profession is on the verge of collapse according to yet another academic or commentator, without any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, and yet again according to another professional view.

I do not know of any other trade journals that have such a negative view of their own profession, and I am convinced it leads to depression in the profession, an almost collective heave of the shoulders by practitioners wondering why they bother continuing, and a reduction in recruitment amongst other things, without anyone actually checking to see if it is indeed the case.

This practitioner (Professor Mayson) was urging a combining of work with accountants, but as a businessman I do not go to my accountant to get legal advice, I go to a solicitor. I do not require them to be in the same place – my various company solicitors are based in Holywell, Chester, Wrexham and London. My company accountants are based in Stockport. I pick both on their relative merits, and not because they are in the same building as each other. I deal with both via email or on the phone, and rarely go for meetings with them. Goodness knows where this idea came from about combining the two – was this an idea he dreamt up on the train on the way to the conference? Where is his evidence of the need for this?

Professor Mayson also states “…lawyers are expensive and have been led to believe things about their status. They have that baggage….” On the high street, assistant solicitors can actually get paid less than the secretaries who work at the firm. Paralegals and non-qualified staff can only earn so much less to live on, and the organizations Professor Mayson refers to as muscling in on the legal profession usually pay their non-qualified staff about the same as solicitors working in some high street firms, so there is little difference between the two. Solicitors also train for about 6-8 years to qualify, so usually quite like having the baggage of the status that goes with their job!

I have been a solicitor reading the Gazette since 2000, and every time I pick up the Gazette it contains yet another depressing story, but I do not think the reality is usually the same as the story in the Gazette.

I have lost count of the number of time that recruitment decisions have been based on stories in the Gazette, and these decisions have been ill conceived. I have had firms cancel interviews the day after they have received it because of yet another front cover story about the imminent demise of a strand of the profession or solicitors in general. I have heard this week of a solicitor who was due to start a new post and was called the day before (and coincidentally a day after the recent doom-mongering Gazette article came out) to say that the firm did not wish them to start anymore.

I wonder whether the Law Society Gazette editor could be encouraged to report news that is backed up by evidence, so that when the next academic comes along prophesising the imminent doom of the profession they can actually check whether any of what has been said is fair or indeed possible."

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment has over 4,500 solicitors registered, and over 1,500 vacancies online at any time. The company is called Ten-Percent due to its’ annual donation of profits to charity.

Jonathan Fagan,
0845 644 3923 for press interviews or comments.

Jonathan Fagan also writes a daily blog on recruitment and the legal profession:

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