Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Friday, May 09, 2008

Crime Solicitors - the market is booming!

09/05/08 New emergence of crime market

In the last few days we have seen an explosion in duty solicitor and crime recruitment. It appears that suddenly duty solicitors have become the flavour of the market and after the last 12 to 18 months of redundancies and dire warnings that everything was going to disappear and that no crime solicitors would be left.

I have been inundated in my areas of the country (London, Home Counties, parts of the Midlands) with telephone calls and emails from firms wanting any duty solicitors that we have.

Some of them are completely unrealistic, others are slightly more realistic.

The sort of salaries that are being indicated at present are lower than previous years particularly so in and around London.

So what can you expect if you are a duty solicitor or crime solicitor currently on the market looking for work?

In London, quite a lot of the firms are interested solely on a freelance basis, i.e. you sign your slots over to the firm in return for a basic plus commission with a certain percentage of each bill coming to you as opposed to others.

Where salaries are indicated they are usually in the early to mid thirties, with very few firms wanting to go up to £40,000 plus unless it’s an all inclusive package that incorporates out of hours police stations.

Out of London it is pretty similar. Very few firms want to take on the duty solicitors looking for salaries of £40,000 upwards, but would rather look at recently qualified duty solicitors aiming at £30,000 upwards. Anyone looking for £40,000 upwards is likely to have to consider some sort of profit share in order to attain this as it does not appear to be the norm any more for duty solicitor salaries to start at £40,000 and hit £45, 000 to £50,000 if lucky.

Newly qualified solicitors (with police station accreditation) are pretty uniform across the UK now. The going rate is anything from £22,000 up to about £28,000 with the average being somewhere around £24,000. There are vacancies around now and it is starting to pick up on this front.

If you are looking from outside of London and thinking that salaries are much higher inside London, you will be mistaken, as London firms are no longer paying any premiums at all compared with days gone by. Salaries will be the same these days regardless of where you are looking, except with some firms who still pay well in return for the obvious benefits to them for retaining staff for long periods of time and having good relations with them.

It is a very hard market to be in at present, with all the changes coming through and the threats every few months to the incomes of crime solicitors. However, this has always been the case and it is not a recent phenomenon for government departments to attack or effect the crime solicitor market by restricting or increasing workloads.

If you are a crime solicitor thinking of changing fields, it remains extremely hard to do, although there are now specialist courses now being developed by various providers to retrain in matters like wills and probates or commercial law.

You must remember however that in order to do this you will really have to struggle for a few years to find suitable posts and you also have to decide whether or not the other field of law is suitable for you and whether you are able and capable of dealing with it for a number of years.

Changing daily visits to the magistrates court and police stations with the obvious adrenaline bursts that go with it to being sat behind a desk filling out contracts or signing wills is quite a different change to your whole career.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly commentates and writes on the legal profession, legal recruitment and the state of the legal job market. As a former crime solicitor, he is particularly interested in the crime field, and Ten Percent owns a specialist website www.crime-solicitor.co.uk to deal specifically with duty solicitors and police station accredited solicitors.

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