Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Monday, December 22, 2008

Conveyancing Jobs - 40% of firms make redundancies - surely more?

40 percent of conveyancing firms report redundancies (surely more than this???!!)

The Law Society Gazette reported a while ago that 40 percent of law firms had made redundancies in their conveyancing departments.

This was based on a survey of 1300 firms who were all clients of one particular company.

About 33 percent of firms said that the slump had not affected them and that there was no freeze on recruitment and that things were continuing as normal.

Richard Barnett, of Barnett Solicitors, who is also head of a law society conveyancing body said that he could not believe this was possible, that firms were in all probability putting their heads in the sand.

I can agree with Richard Barnett as the evidence on the ground is simply overwhelming to show that almost every firm has ceased to recruit conveyancing solicitors and in quite a lot of circumstances, this has also affected other departments, including wills and probate, family, litigation, crime and anything else a high street firm will cover.

However, it has clearly been conveyancers like Barnett Solicitors and Hammonds Direct who have been hit the hardest, with some firms having lots of redundancies at once, like McKeags in the north east.

When one redundancy is announced, we almost see the effect on our website immediately and we will get a whole host of conveyancing solicitors and executives registering with us all at the same time from the same area and usually from the same firm or from a neighbouring one.

This has been going on now for about four to five months, and this has got to such an extent that we have now removed all conveyancing posts from our website apart from one, as we do not believe anyone is seriously considering recruiting. I expect this to change very shortly, but I think we will start again from scratch with posting new vacancies as opposed to the pre-existing ones.

I also disagree in part with Richard Barnett in that I do not think that solicitors are putting their heads in the sand and some are clearly doing okay in the present climate as they have a good bank of established clients. Unlike Mr Barnett’s firm, which specialises in volume conveyancing, some of the smaller firms have a loyal client bank based locally who will automatically go to the firm for their work, and they don’t need as much work to keep going or to make a profit.

However, I think a lot of firms have been keen to avoid adding to the woes of the profession by stating that they are not recruiting or making redundancies, and I would imagine that they clearly are, they just didn’t want to say to the survey conductors, for fear of making things even worse.

Whilst I could understand the Law Society Gazette running an article like this, it has been the Law Society Gazette editorial that has added to the concerns in the profession and recruitment was particularly hit after the Law Society Gazette decided to wheel out some management consultants to say how hard their clients were being hit, when at the time when there was no evidence of anything taking place.

I think it is slightly again the effect of the media adding to the credit crunch by stoking things up.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment, and regularly writes and commentates on the state of the legal job market and the legal profession in general. You can contact us at www.ten-percent.co.uk.