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, jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk
www.ten-percent.co.uk
0845 644 3923 for press interviews or comments.




Jonathan Fagan also writes a daily blog on recruitment and the legal profession: www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Temporary Workers - are they exploited?

Recently there has been a bit of a campaign by the unions to demonise temporary workers and agencies and the conditions they make the workers work in. The REC work very hard to counter this, and only yesterday Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of External Relations, explained: “There has never been a more important time to celebrate the role of temporary, contract and interim staff. The ongoing trade unions’ campaigns for more regulations on the industry have inevitably included an extremely negative portrayal of agency workers in general.
“One of the ways of challenging this is to highlight both the contribution these flexible workers make to the UK economy and the benefits it brings to them by enabling them to take on
temporary assignments which fit in with their busy or diverse lifestyles.”

I have been at a meeting today where Gareth Osbourne put this into quite succinct terms, probably more useable now he is not the Chief Executive of the REC - "utter bollocks" was his assessment of the allegations of the unions!

I couldnt agree more. If you asked any of the locums working in the legal profession, most of them have a better time than the employed staff - after all they can walk out of an assignment if the boss proves to be a complete nutcase, something permanent staff cannot do unless they have another job. Most are doing it because they like the flexibility of the hours and the better pay in any event. I think the unions need to research this before they make such wild statements. Obviously migrant workers being worked to death picking brussel sprouts for 3p per hour may wish to argue with me on this point!

Jonathan Fagan, MD - www.ten-percent.co.uk recruitment consultants for the legal profession.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to survive the recession in the legal profession

18.03.08 Surviving a Recession in the Legal Profession
Surviving a recession is a little like writing a blog - you have to constantly look at your save button to ensure you dont lose any work as I have just lost this article and am now retyping it!
Top tips are:
1. Make sure you are invaluable to your firm. Even if you are last in, first out, there is no reason why you cannot contribute to the fee generation capabilities of your firm or department and make the partners think twice before making you redundant.
2. Think up new sources of work - consider every threat an opportunity - a recession is coming perhaps and some areas are going to be hit more than others. I have come across a firm today looking to change their focus from property work to contentious probate, as they have seen the possible slow down in property to be affecting their fee income rather dramatically. No-one is immune from changes in business - it can happen anywhere and to anyone. Even in established markets things can change.
3. Dont let your employers talk themselves into a recession and a round of redundancies. I come across firms all the time saying that a particular legal market is going to slow down or stop, and they need to stop working in it, but stating this without any hard evidence. The Law Society Gazette is very bad at contributing to these opinions - I have even had recruitment put on hold because of a particular headline on the front of the Gazette.
4. Look to get extra qualifications - no reason why a wills & probate solicitor cannot look towards the IFA avenues, and I have heard recently of an expectation that financial planners are going to be all the rage soon...
5. Don't panic! It may not happen, despite the US today confirming they have messed up their economy so badly one of their banks has been sold for peanuts.. Our interest rates are still very low..

Author: Jonathan Fagan of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk ) - register with us at www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm

Jonathan Fagan is a specialist legal recruitment consultant, 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 email us at cv@tenpercent.co.uk

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March 2008 Newsletter for Employers

March 2008 Newsletter

Newsletter for Legal Employers
from Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment

1. Search Engine Optimization - whats it all about?
2. Making sure your web presence draws in business
3. Chancery Lane Legal Recruitment
4. The Worst Interview Answer...
5. Recession - what recession?

Welcome to the March Newsletter from Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. We have included a mix of articles that perhaps diversify away from our main business area (legal jobs), but also give your company the opportunity to get a link free of charge from a well ranked links page on our main site - www.ten-percent.co.uk

1. Search Engine Optimization - what's it all about

You will see lots of references to SEO services, particularly in service station toilets on the M6 at present, and larger companies are starting to sell pay per click services and page ranking tools. This is basically the art of promoting your site to the masses of potential customers out there on the internet. There are lots of conflicting views out there as to what constitutes a good site in terms of SEO but basically you need to do the following:

Ensure you know what your keywords are – what do you want people to look at on your site when they are searching? Are you a firm wanting to pick up family law work? If so, your keywords would probably include “family law” and “expert family solicitor”. Contact us and we will send you a link to a free online tool that will analyse your site for you..
Make sure your keywords are on your website lots of times.
Make sure each page on your website has “meta tags” – these are bits of text that search engines use to categorise your site. The meta tags can usually be seen if you click ‘view’ and then ‘source’ in Internet Explorer.
Submit your site to lots of search engines - we use a company called names.co.uk and pay about £100 ish a year for the service. The same company also review your site and statistics continually to check whether all is OK.
Get your site linked on other sites with good rankings.
The scope for business on the internet is fantastic - there is so much potential there and you don't need to spend a lot to get noticed.. If you have any questions about SEO please let us know. As we have no links to SEO companies, no commercial interest in it, and come from a legal as opposed to IT background, we can offer impartial advice.

2. Making sure your website draws in business

Most law firms have one these days, but there are quite a large number where the firms simply have not looked at why they have a website, and what they are using it for. If someone requires legal services, for example a business in Godalming wanting to litigate over an unpaid bill, chances are they will go to Google, click ‘litigation solicitors in Godalming’, and see what comes up. If you are a litigation solicitor based in the town, this is the search result you need to be shown for…

In our experience, there are a few different types of website a firm can opt for. The first is the Passive variety, ie; the site basically confirms who the firm are. The second is an active website, ie; it actually does something, a process described in IT language as “interactivity”. In a law firm context this means something like an online quotation form, pages of advice for individuals or organisations, or detailed news about the cases the firm has been involved in. Others have set up internet operations with websites straight to the point such as “flogmyhouse.com” or “trynottodiebutwriteyourwillanyway.co.uk”.

Both sorts of website are good in their own way and serve a purpose. If you would like an independent assessment of your site, we would be happy to assist you. Simply email us the web page, and confirmation that you are happy for us to review it on our site (impartially), and we will assess it for you from a users perspective searching for specific services on the web.

Email us - jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk

3. Chancery Lane Legal Recruitment

www.chancerylane.co.uk is a new legal job board with over 1,500 vacancies already live on it. For a limited time you can post 2 vacancies for 3 months onto the job board for £95 and view up to 10 CVs online. Pay online and gain instant access to post jobs. Single job listings are £50 for 30 days.

4. Worst Interview Answer given

The January competition was won by David Barker from Burnett Barker Solicitors in Bury St Edmunds, (www.burnettbarker.co.uk) who had the following gem to contribute:

"And now, are there any questions that you would like to ask either about the firm or about the position?"

"Yeah. D'you get a fag break?"

David receives a £10 Amazon voucher for his contribution - we ran the same competition with solicitors looking for work, and two of the worst questions asked were:

"Is that your natural hair colour?"
"what would be your fantasy perfect day in the office"?

Many thanks to those who entered.

5. Recession, what recession?

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment has seen a changes in fortune for the better this month. At the start of the year, there was a great feeling of foreboding amongst solicitors I think that everything was about to change, and the market drop. However, our statistics equal last year for our placements on the permanent side, and as permanent recruitment is usually the first to drop off, we think that the legal job market is buoyant.

We are good on all permanent fronts, not so good on temporary fronts, although this is fairly normal for us. Will pick up on the latter in a few weeks I suspect as moves start to take place.

Conveyancing is just about holding still, although starting to see a trickle of redundancies. London has not had much action this year yet, but I seem to recall this being the same for the last few years. One interesting change this year was a recent vacancy we picked up for central London, which attracted over 30 applications from solicitors. In usual recruitment circles, this is probably quite a low pick up rate, but for legal recruitment it is extremely good. A good few of these were applying as a result of impending redundancy at their existing firm, so this is a marker that the residential property market has probably slowed down a bit, and things are changing.

It remains the same as always at NQ level - just not getting the vacancies into us in the same quantity - there are firms out there interviewing at present, and there seem to be increases across the board in the amount of work available. Commercial property remains busy, and there is a real lack of any good candidates in that field at times.


www.ten-percent.co.uk has been recruiting lawyers since April 2000, and has over 2,000 legal jobs and 4,000 solicitors registered for permanent and temporary work.


To read the full report please visit www.ten-percent.co.uk/weeklyreport.htm or the main website www.ten-percent.co.uk



For our candidate database and online legal recruitment services including sole supplier agreements at a discount, visit www.ten-percent.co.uk/er.html
For more information visit our website:
www.ten-percent.co.uk

Jonathan Fagan, Managing Director, Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited
Email: jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk
Tel: 0207 127 4343

March 2008 Newsletter for Candidates

March 2008 Newsletter
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment

Newsletter for Candidates - March 08
from Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment

1. Chancery Lane Legal Recruitment
2. The Worst Interview Question 2008 Competition..
3. Recession - what recession?
4. 'Future plans' question/answer
5. Negotiating pay rises in the new tax year following today's Budget
6. Making a name for yourself as a lawyer

Welcome to the March Newsletter from Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment.

1. Chancery Lane Legal Recruitment

www.chancerylane.co.uk is a new legal job board with over 1,500 vacancies already live on it. The site will expand rapidly, so be sure to keep an eye on it.. You can also visit our site at www.ten-percent.co.uk/vacancies.html to get our updated posts. Our vacancy database is improved since a recent software change, and you can now search very specific areas.

2. Worst Interview Question competition 2008

The winner of the worst interview question was the poor Mrs T from Slough, who endured the following horror:

"Is that your natural hair colour?"

No interview technique can prepare you for that, although I wonder what the firm were getting at - were they suggesting Mrs T had grey hair she was hiding, or perhaps she was wearing a wig? This was a larger size solicitors firm, who probably ought to have known better...! Would you perhaps counter this question with "no - usually its pink - by the way, is your hair naturally that oily or did you just forget to wash it?"

She gets a £10 Amazon gift voucher for her troubles..

The runner up was Mr G.S in London who got "what would be your fantasy perfect day in the office?" thrown at him. I would imagine the answer "not actually being in work" may not have gone down well.

The January worst answer competition was won by David Barker, a partner at Burnett Barker Solicitors in Bury St Edmunds, (www.burnettbarker.co.uk) who had the following gem to contribute:

"And now, are there any questions that you would like to ask either about the firm or about the position?"

"Yeah. D'you get a fag break?"

Many thanks to all those who entered.

3. Recession, what recession?

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment has seen a changes in fortune for the better this month. At the start of the year, there was a great feeling of foreboding amongst solicitors I think that everything was about to change, and the market drop. However, our statistics equal last year for our placements on the permanent side, and as permanent recruitment is usually the first to drop off, we think that the legal job market is buoyant. We are good on all permanent fronts, not so good on temporary fronts, although this is fairly normal for us. Will pick up on the latter in a few weeks I suspect as moves start to take place.
Conveyancing is just about holding still, although starting to see a trickle of redundancies. London has not had much action this year yet, but I seem to recall this being the same for the last few years. One interesting change this year was a recent vacancy we picked up for central London, which attracted over 30 applications from solicitors. In usual recruitment circles, this is probably quite a low pick up rate, but for legal recruitment it is extremely good. A good few of these were applying as a result of impending redundancy at their existing firm, so this is a marker that the residential property market has probably slowed down a bit, and things are changing.

It remains the same as always at NQ level - just not getting the vacancies into us in the same quantity - there are firms out there interviewing at present, and there seem to be increases across the board in the amount of work available. Commercial property remains busy, and there is a real lack of any good candidates in that field at times.


www.ten-percent.co.uk has been recruiting lawyers since April 2000, and has over 2,000 legal jobs and 4,000 solicitors registered for permanent and temporary work.


To read the full report please visit www.ten-percent.co.uk/weeklyreport.htm or the main website www.ten-percent.co.uk



4. Future plans - "what are your future plans for yourself and your family?"

This question was recently asked of a young female solicitor attending an interview, in a way she felt at the time was perfectly innocent, but later on thinking back about it, felt slightly suspicious about the motives behind it.

I have advised potential trainee solicitors on how to answer this, and that is to be open about it and honest - if you deal with the question in a negative way, you are unlikely to get the job.. For potential trainee solicitors, this is v.hard to deal with.

For solicitors, I think it really boils down to the type of firm you want to work for - if you feel that the firm are asking the question to see whether you intend to take maternity leave very shortly, is this an issue for you to have to deal with? What would they be like when it comes to taking time off for child care or maternity related issues? You could perhaps ask them to clarify the question in the first instance - ie; explain that you want to remain locally based due to family ties, or progress your career to support your family, and see what they come back with...

5. Negotiating pay rises in the new financial year

The budget has just come out, and your costs are likely to have risen. Alcohol has gone up by 4p per pint, or 14p per bottle of wine. Car tax is changing, although wont affect most road users. There is a new capital fund to help women entrepenneurs (I wonder whether this will assist any lawyers wanting to establish new firms?), and cigarettes have gone up 11p per packet.

When you approach an annual review, it is important to be aware of your figures - you need to explain why you deserve a pay rise, what you will achieve in the forthcoming year to justify that pay rise, and what the firm have done to deserve having you work for them. The budget figures above can be incorporated into the argument...

6. Making a name for yourself as a lawyer

Ever wondered how famous lawyers get famous, apart from those with family connections? There are lots of ways to do this, but the main one is the art of self-promotion. If you have a case that you think will attract media attention (and of course help your client), why not email your local paper and tell them? If you deal successfully with an issue for a client, why not ask them if you can use the fact in your website, or write a brief article for the local papers on the subject and mention the case?

Well known lawyers tend not to be necessarily those who are the best at the job, but perhaps those who you hear about consistently. Nick Freeman, the lawyer known for his motoring defence work has an excellent website and appears in the press quite often giving interviews etc.. without wishing to cast aspersions, I suspect he has done quite a lot of promotion himself over the years to get to where he is today...
For more information visit our website:
www.ten-percent.co.uk

Jonathan Fagan, Managing Director, Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited
Email: jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk
Tel: 0207 127 4343