Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Crime Solicitors back in demand

28/04/08 Crime solicitor recruitment – back again on the agenda.

In recent weeks, there have been a whole new glut of duty solicitor posts coming onto the market. In the Law Society Gazette last week for example, I counted at lease 20 duty solicitor vacancies across the UK, but particularly in London.

This relates to the cut off point at the beginning of May for duty solicitors to register slots with a specific firm. Quite a lot of the firms we have been speaking to who have been looking for duty solicitors appear to be on the look out for duty solicitors who wish to sell their slots to them effectively, and simply act as consultants to the firm, doing occasional work on their behalf but making sure their slots are assigned.

If you are thinking of going down this route, be aware of a recent horror story that a solicitor in the Midlands experienced.

He had an agreement with a firm where he became their consultant and freelanced for them at courts being paid a percentage of each case he dealt with and a basic in return for his duty solicitor slots. However, when he started work for the firm, they took his duty solicitor slots, covered just about everything in house and left him with very little income apart from the basic for handing over his duty solicitor slots.

When he complained to them, the firm simply informed him he was no longer required, and retained his duty solicitor slots as of course, they are entitled to do.

Another solicitor in the north London area is currently suing a firm for their base payments and her duty solicitor slots as the firm registered her with them, took the duty solicitor slots and then never paid her for the 12 months they had her slot for. There are certainly plenty of honourable law firms out there who would not dream of such activities or behaviour, but there are certainly plenty of unscrupulous ones who clearly would.

If you are minding to go down this route, it is probably best to look at having some sort of contract with the firm, so that if there are any discrepancies further down the line, they can be addressed contractually rather than needing to rely on oral agreements or the honourable intentions of another solicitor.

Of course, the better option would be to try and find an employed position where a fair and decent wage is being paid, but in the current climate of firms trying to undercut each other desperately to be ready for contracting that is due to come in shortly, this is isn’t yet happening with the majority of firms and most seem to be simply trying to get their staff to work for next to nothing in return for staying in the profession.

Not a week goes by without a new telephone call from a disgruntled crime solicitor saying that they are experiencing the stress at work and wish to change fields or work for the CPS or government department. I would imagine that every time the CPS or government prosecution post comes up these days, the relevant department is inundated with applications from duty solicitors and other private practice defence solicitors desperately trying to get out of what has become a pretty awful field of law to work in.

As a former crime solicitor myself, I have to say that they only find the state of the crime strand of the profession to be quite depressing and hope that things change in the future for the better.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). www.crime-solicitor.co.uk is our specialist website for crime solicitors, particularly duty solicitors.

Help finding a Training Contract or Work Experience

28/04/08 Strategy for finding a training contract or legal work experience.

We have found often in the years that we have been advising law students and graduates on searching for training contracts or work experience placements that people go about it in a very slapdash and haphazard way. Most people prepare standard questions, standard covering letter and a standard CV and look in the training contract handbook and online at places like lawcareers.net and send out as many applications as they can without actually thinking through what it is they’re looking for and what they personally can offer the particular firm. The same people may have gone about preparing for their A levels in quite the opposite way many years before. They may have spent six months revising, covering every point, researching every issue and then revising every matter that needed to be dealt with in their exams.

However, because careers advice at universities and institutions can be so poor (or there can be next to none of it, relating specifically to the legal profession), law students and graduates simply do not know how to go about looking for their first legal job.

Strategy you must have should be linked to your choice of the strand of the legal profession you wish to go into. For example, if you would like to be a barrister, the first thing to do is to make sure that it is actually something that you want to do, and that you understand what the work is a barrister does. Finding a mini-pupelage is often a very easy exercise, and a lot of chambers are very happy to take you so you can follow barristers about and see what they.

It is slightly harder in the legal profession to get commercial work experience to see what a commercial lawyer does as opposed to a high street lawyer. There are plenty of opportunities to go and get work experience with a high street lawyer, but most of the commercial firms have structured work placements and vacation schemes that you have to apply and succeed to get on to.

Whichever field of law you are thinking of going in to, it is also important to be realistic about your chances. If you have very low A level grades for example, there is absolutely no point on the whole in filling out the 30 page forms online or in hard copy for the large London City firms, as the vast majority will benchmark you on it and you’ll simply be rejected at the first hurdle.

Obviously, there are exceptions to this and I would not [inaudible 3:24] anybody without seeing a CV whether or not it was worth the reply.

The same applies for pretty much all the legal profession. If you have a third class degree and are doing the legal practice course and have no work experience yet, if you do not pull your finger out within the next few months, it is unlikely that you will succeed in the legal profession in the longer term, unless you have good family links or are extremely lucky.

The competition out there is immense and there are a lot of people on the look out for training contracts and work experience. If you do not make any effort yourself, it is unlikely that you would actually manage to break into the legal profession and take your career forward in this direction.

Your strategy must be worked out according to your aims in the short, medium and long term. You must identify firms you wish to apply to and come up with tailored CVs and covering letters for each of the firms. Mainly to make sure that each of your applications is relevant to that specific form or results in wasted in time, money and efforts, and missed opportunities. Failure to appreciate the limitations for expansions of your career and ability will result in you missing out on other opportunities as you waste time either making applications for inappropriate posts or failing to apply where you ought to be applying.

There is an old adage in the legal recruitment market that once you have qualified as a solicitor you can simply walk into another job at a later stage.

This is a myth on the whole. We have a lot of lawyers registered with us who seek to escape one area of law and move into another, spend many years trying to, regardless of their level of experience.

Bear this in mind when looking about for work, and make sure that the work you are aiming to do is what you would like to be doing in the longer term. The only way to know this is to go and experience it yourself first hand, and without that experience, you’ll simply be wasting your time and that of the firm who eventually train you.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly writes and commentates on the state of the legal profession and the legal recruitment job market. If you would like to get free careers advice or require media comment, please email him at cv@ten-percent.co.uk Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment sell guides online for writing Legal CVs and also for getting through Legal job interviews. Visit the website for further information.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Newly Qualified Solicitors - heads of department jobs?

28/04/08 Newly qualified solicitors – head of departments?

We recently had a firm register a vacancy with us for a family solicitor at newly qualified level on the high street, dealing with private work being paid in the early £20,000’s. I thought this was quite a straightforward vacancy as it fitted in the area for the salary, family lawyers are increasingly hard to find posts for, got plenty of candidates. However after sourcing three to four candidates, and arranging interviews, we sent the first two candidates to the firm and eagerly awaited a response.

When our consultant got in touch with the firm to find out how they had got on, they told us that one candidate was going to make an offer and the other candidate was no good. We contacted the candidates for feedback and they both told us the same thing. The first one said that she had been there five minutes when the senior partner of the firm had informed her that she was going to be head of department for family law. I’d not realised this comment, in the area for the salary, family lawyers are increasingly hard to find posts for, got plenty of candidates. However after sourcing three to four candidates, and arranging interviews, we sent the first two candidates to the firm and eagerly awaited a response.

When our consultant got in touch with the firm to find out how they had got on, they told us that one candidate was going to be made an offer and the other candidate was no good. We contacted the candidates for feedback and they both told us the same thing. The first one said that she had been there five minutes when the senior partner of the firm had informed her that she was going to be head of department for family law. She had not realised this, and neither had we, and therefore she shook the senior partner’s hand, said no, thank you and walked out.

The other candidate had said that she thought the firm was really nice and she was waiting for an offer from them. We asked her about the head of department conundrum and she said that she had been told she would be running the department and would need to think about but that she had other interviews to attend anyway.

In the end, the second candidate decided not to take up the offer of running a family law department on a salary in the early £20K’s.

So what should you do in this circumstance? Well, in our opinion you should avoid head of department posts like the plague until you are at least one year qualified, if not getting close to three. It is not a question of seizing the bull by the horns, but rather from avoiding any difficulties in such matters as handling complicated files and making mistakes, and in the worst case scenario, ending up before the solicitor’s disciplinary tribunal. If you read the back of the Law Society Gazette and see where interventions have been made into law firms or disciplinary proceedings started, it is frightening the number of times that solicitors get disciplined and their defence is they were fairly recently qualified and ignorant of certain issues.

I think personally it is unfair of firms to expect this from a newly qualified solicitor in any event. If I had been offered a head of department post as a newly qualified solicitor, I would have been flattered on the one hand and possibly not able to see past the motives of the firm for making you the head of department and rather just looking at my own ego. This is partly why I think it’s unfair of the firm to make such offers. We know, as recruiters, why they are making this offer, and it has nothing to do with their considered competency of the person they are going to interview. It is instead a question of salary and the fact that they save an awful lot of money employing a newly qualified solicitor to run a department instead of the actual person who ought to be running the department, which is a two plus year qualified solicitor. The difference in salary is not actually that great when you take into consideration the work that that person will be doing. A three year qualified solicitor dealing with family law in the area that this firm were based in would have cost them in the reason of about £30,000 to £35,000. If you factor in issues such as newly qualified solicitors questioning matters on file or needing to seek counsel’s opinion, or needing to get things dealt with by you as the principal, you would probably find that the more experienced solicitor would make more money than the inexperienced one.

Sometimes we do wonder about firms, and we have noticed that when a newly qualified or recently qualified has been employed to run a department, on the whole it has been short lived. The newly qualified solicitor desperately wants to escape from the firm as they suddenly realise they are way beyond their depth and need to get into a firm with a supervisor, and the firm realised they’re not actually making any money on the newly qualified solicitor, seek to get rid of them. I have found over the years that the normal length of time that somebody lasts in such a role is about six months, possibly extending to 12 months, but even when they have been with the firm for two to three years, they’re still looking to get out because they still haven’t had anyone to benchmark themselves against as the only solicitor in the department. This often means that they want to go and work for a firm with a large department so they can see how other solicitors deal with matters and not the way that they deal with it.

So in summary, if you are a firm looking for a family solicitor to head a department, there is no escaping the fact that you need someone with experience, and if you do not do this then you will find that not only will your profits be affected but also you may damage the reputation of your firm. If you are a newly qualified or recently qualified solicitor looking for a family job or similar and get offered a head of department role, think about the motives of the firm for offering you this, and not your own ego or status. It may be the worse decision you ever make.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly commentates and writes on the state of the legal profession and the legal job market and can be contacted for media or press comments or free careers advice at cv@ten-percent.co.uk

Monday, April 28, 2008

Legal Practice Course - professional course or just a rip off?

25/04/08

Legal practice course providers cashing in on unsuspecting law graduates?

It has been announced today in the Law Society Gazette that the College of Law are opening a new branch in Manchester to compete with rivals BPP.

If one assumes that the new college will host a further 200 to 300 new students it is surely yet another sign of the industry that has grown up around training potential solicitors and lawyers on a somewhat desperate audience or also quite captive.

It has been considered for many years that a respectable career can be had in the legal profession and that students and graduates should strive towards qualification as a lawyer, whether solicitor or barrister. The reality is often very much different and that there are simply not enough jobs for trainee solicitors or for solicitors once they are qualified for there to be too many legal practice course graduates.

One of the problems with this approach by the College of Law is that it almost gives off the picture that there are plenty of posts out there once someone has completed a College of Law legal practice course to justify taking the course in the first place.

However I have come across many trainee solicitors and newly qualified solicitors and also paralegals and legal practice course graduates who are still paying off their debts for these courses many, many years later and in fact, some will never pay them off just because of the sheer amount and the low salary that they can expect once they qualify as a solicitor.

Perhaps it is time for legal practice course providers like the College of Law and BPP to have a look at their courses and the way that they advertise the legal practice course and consider whether or not it can be morally and ethically justified to continue. There are very few other professional courses that cost the same at the legal practice course does and I do recall a survey some years ago where it was estimated that each student who graduated from the legal practice course was in something between £10,000 and £20,000 worth of debt by the time they had finished it. Obviously a newly qualified salary of £22,000 is not going to be paying that sort of debt off in a few years.

Whilst it is accepted that the brand of College of Law is considered quite superior to other legal practice course providers and that a lot of the other practice course providers are former polytechnics and new universities, it must be said that once a legal practice course graduate has finished the course and goes into training contract applications or even starts a training contract and looks for newly qualified posts, there are very few firms out there outside of the centre of London that will be the slightest bit interested where they did the legal practice course.

There is still a general attitude in the legal profession that the legal practice course is a bit of a “Mickey Mouse” qualification and it yet another burning ring of fire for every potential solicitor to jump through. It almost seems to legal practice course students at times (and this included myself many years ago) that the whole aim of the legal practice course was to make a lot of money in as short a space as possible for the college that was running the course.

I hope that this isn’t the case and I do recall taking my legal practice course advocacy notes with me when I started my training contract, finding them quite useful. However I’m not sure that the £6000 or the price I paid then quite justified this and perhaps I could have just purchased a book myself and read it before going into court.

Of course, the quality, standard and relevance of a legal practice course is a matter for another discussion.

Jonathan Fagan is the Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/) and regularly commentates and writes on the state of the legal profession and the legal recruitment and legal job market. If you would like to contact Jonathan for either press comments or careers advice, please email him at cv@ten-percent.co.uk.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

difficult Interview Question

Interview question “Is that your natural hair colour?”

Believe it or not, this question was asked by a firm of solicitors in the South East of England. How do you answer such difficult questions without appearing defensive, angry or simply wanting to throttle the interviewer?

Firstly you should think about whether this is actually a firm you want to work for and how you could end the interview effectively and quickly without too much confrontation.

However if you think it’s just a momentary blip on the part of the interviewer and you’re very keen on the firm and the post they’re talking about, there are a couple of things you could do to deal with this question.

1. Answer it in a humorous way i.e. perhaps you could suggest my hair is normally pink but I have to dye it green and then black to get it into its current state.

2. Hit the ball back into their court and ask whether they dye their hair and if that’s why they’re wondering what brand you used to dye yours.

3. Ask them if they’re wearing a wig.

4. Burst into tears and see what they do.

There are very few things you can do in reality with a question like this and the person who’s asked it has effectively damaged, possibly beyond repair your relationship with them in that interview. It is unlikely that you would be offered the job anyway after a question like this because the interview would remember it in his own mind and as you are unable to answer it without provoking some sort of controversy, he is likely to remember and feel very uncomfortable about it afterwards.

This has not been the most inspirational of responses to dealing with an interview question but I regret to say that it is probably one of the interview questions that there is very little you can do about it and yourself in a good light, but as I said at the start of this article, really you must think firstly as to whether this would be a firm you would actually want to work for in the first place.

Jonathan Fagan is the Managing Director at Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/). He regularly writes and commentates on the legal profession and legal recruitment as well as the legal job market.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Multidisciplinary Partnerships MDP

25/04/08 Multidisciplinary Partnerships: Are they all that they’re cracked up to be?

There’s been a lot of talk recently in the news, Law Society Gazette about the drastic changes that will take place when multidisciplinary partnerships come in. It’s expected that these will be at the end of 2008 and that the legal profession will be revolutionised by them.

Over the last eight years, I have been doing legal recruitment and I’m clear that it’s probably not going to be the revolution that the soothsayers of the legal profession expect. Over this time I have regularly been approached by companies, whether accountants or financial advisors or claims management, request details of solicitors who want to go into practice as either an employee or as part as their company.

The reason for this is because the companies see the benefit of having a solicitor there earning money for them, when they see the hourly rate that they’re paying an external solicitor’s firm framework. However, when they actually get down to the bare bones of the matter, it becomes apparent that actually a solicitor is not as good a prospect as they expect. This is for the following reasons:

1. Solicitors tend to cost rather a lot of money. Don’t expect to pick up a highly experienced solicitor with five years PQE, pay them £30,000 when in reality, for example, if it’s a personal injury solicitor, would actually be paying them something in the region of £45,000 to £70,000 for that level of experience.

2. The cost of professional indemnity insurance is somewhat prohibitive for a large number of firms as it is such a large outlay from the start. External companies do not quite realise the cost of this to firms and also what effect it has on the day to day running of a practice in that there is a lot of management and admin that goes with that insurance that must be adhered to.

3. Solicitors, although charging fairly high hourly rates compared with other professions on the whole actually do not work for a full seven or eight hours per day billing at the levels the firm expect them to. As a result often these companies delude themselves into thinking a solicitors going to be earning them somewhere in the region of £2000 for every day they work in the practice, when in reality the solicitor may only be fee9 earning three out of those seven hours. Which means that the practice then have to shoulder the cost.

4. It is very hard to find any solicitors who want to work in such circumstances or has been in the past and as a result, such arrangements have been very limited. I do know of a solicitor who set up in practice in East Anglia working effectively as a multidisciplinary practice with a firm of financial advisors but found that the work he was being provided by the firm of financial advisors was not actually sufficient to generate an income for him, despite various overheads being paid for by the financial advisor firm as opposed to himself.

I expect to find over time that there will be multidisciplinary partnerships, but in reality these multidisciplinary partnerships will not be as expected. I think they will be on a small scale and with limited market share. I suspect that it is again another false or misleading media line that is being spun over time to generate new footage to fill magazines and journals and written by journalists who actually have no involvement with the legal profession on a day to day basis as they go about their business.

Jonathan Fagan is the Managing Director at Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly writes and commentates on the legal profession and legal recruitment. Visit our website for details of our legal recruitment services as well as free careers advice.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm about to qualify as a solicitor - help!

23/04/08 I’m just about to qualify but the legal job market is awful – help!

Every year since 2000 legal recruitment has been on a wave. Some months there can be lots of recruitment, lots of legal jobs, and lots of opportunities for all levels of the profession. There seems to be almost a collective enthusiasm about taking on more staff, expanding operations and generating new work.

Other months, it can be completely flat, with no work for anybody, no placements and very little going on. This can be fuelled by media speculation and hype about the state of the market or actual events in reality, for example, the Iraq war of 2003. In the current climate I predict that there will be a glut of newly qualified conveyancing solicitors coming onto the market who will struggle to find work, or will find work, or will have to take salary reductions with their current firm or look at other areas within their existing firms as opposed to looking to move on to new legal jobs. Well, what do you do if you are in this position?

The first thing to do is not to panic. As has happened in the past, the market has eventually righted itself, and firms have realised there is still work coming in and that they do actually need staff to be able to run the files which they have to work on. Obviously without staff firms are unable to generate sufficient profit. As a result, as old staff move on or retire, there is always the need for a new influx of lawyers.

As a result of this it is important to consider the long term options that you have. You have trained for six to seven years to get to where you are, you must not give up at the first hurdle (or the second hurdle if you struggled to find a training contract as well!). In my experience as the legal recruiter, it is the people who make an effort, struggle to achieve who get on in the profession and it is those who are not entirely committed to their choice of profession or who do no perhaps have the same staying power end up the deadwood or unemployed.

You must keep looking and keep all your options open if looking in a dead legal job market.

The current market is reasonably buoyant still despite the recent downturn in property work and the obvious reduction that’s going to occur in conveyancing work to a certain degree.

If you find yourself out of a job, particularly on conveyancing or commercial property, and you have just completed a training contract and are looking to qualify, bear in mind the following advice:

1. Firstly, only take paralegal work as a last resort. In the last mini-recession we had in 2003, a number of commercial litigation solicitors, on qualification, took paralegal work as they were unable to find qualified solicitor posts. Whilst this got them short term gains financially, in that they were able to look after themselves and pay their mortgages, it damaged their careers in a sense because when firms now look at their CVs, they wonder why that person has paralegal work on their CV when they have actually qualified as a solicitor and for the remainder of their career at every interview they go to, the question will be asked as to why they were working as a paralegal and not a solicitor at that stage and it is funny how people can forget the current state of the market, how quickly this occurs.

2. Keep all options open and do not necessarily discount jobs on the basis of the salary being too low or it being too far away. We have recently had a candidate turn down a post in an area where there were very few opportunities on the basis that he was undecided, wanted to have a look at other options, but discovered within four weeks that there were no other options and no other firms were the slightest bit interested in employing him. We are currently speaking to the first firm on his behalf to see if they would be interested in taking him on now, but personally, if somebody did this to my company, we would instantly reject them on the basis that they hadn’t shown sufficient commitment in the first place to us, so why should we consider them a second time round. Of course, it does work both ways because if there are not enough candidates in a certain area to fill posts, then firms are slightly more restricted in who they can take on.

3. Consider all alternatives including out of the legal profession if the market gets too bad. Obviously if you have been out of work for 12 months and have no prospects of finding anything because there is just not the work there to be had, then it’s important to consider other options to keep your finances up and perhaps it’s the time the consider that maybe the legal profession is not for you and you do need to consider changing your career to something else.

Whilst it may sound desperate and awful when you read the papers and the journals, on the ground the legal recruitment market is not as bad as is being made out. There appear to be plenty of posts coming up still and we have not seen a downturn in the number new vacancies being advertised. However we have seen an upturn in the number of candidates registering with us and in fact, have recently stopped a whole host of advertising on this basis as the numbers of candidates we have been getting in have been too many for us to cope with and it is unlikely that we would be able to assist them in finding a new post in the fields that they are looking within, mainly conveyancing or LSC funded family work.

Do not give up hope as those who strive to achieve, tend to achieve! (sorry about the buzz words at the end here!).

Jonathan Fagan is the Managing Director at Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly commentates and writes on legal recruitment and the state of the legal job market.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Law Society and Regulatory Authority staff struggling to find work

Former Law Society and Regulatory Authority staff applying for work in solicitors firms – why do they find it so hard?

We get quite a number of former caseworkers from the Law Society applying for work through us, and it is very interesting to read their CVs and see the attitude that seems to prevail in the establishment. Firstly, there appears to be some bitterness amongst several of the applicants against solicitors in general, and this may be because the recruits are LPC and LLB qualified, and have been unable to find a training contract. It almost seems as if they have taken satisfaction in having the power over the same law firms who have rejected them at some stage in their career, and cannot get away from the bitterness that has gone with this over the years.

Others are overseas qualified lawyers, whether South Africa or Australia etc.. and have struggled to locate private practice work, and almost seem to have fallen into the roles which are usually better paid than the work they have been aiming for.

I have read many CVs from caseworkers where they have put down that they have learnt the mistakes of solicitors firms and can avoid them in future when working themselves as a result, or assist firms in avoiding mistakes made. They have almost completely failed to note that these very firms really resent the way investigations occur at the authority and may possibly bear a grudge, whether inappropriate or not, against anyone who has worked there.

I wonder whether the regulatory authority would be better served avoiding LPC and LLB graduates, and possibly QLTT lawyers, because I do not care what is said at interview, the vast majority want to be solicitors, and possibly the reason they are not is that they have not made the grade on whatever grounds, academic, skills or otherwise. There is almost built in bias against law firms as a result, and this results in mis-perceptions and a lack of understanding in the solicitors and firms they are supposed to be offering impartiality to, both for the benefit of the profession, and the clients they are serving, the general public. I have not seen any benefit in a caseworker having a legal background, as if it were, it would make better sense for the authorities to employ qualified solicitors only…

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment has over 4,500 solicitors registered, and over 1,500 vacancies online at any time. The company donates 10% of its’ profits to charity each year, hence its name.

Jonathan Fagan, jbfagan@ten-percent.co.uk
Legal Recruitment Consultants - www.ten-percent.co.uk
0845 644 3923 for press interviews or comments.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Law Society Gazette and negative coverage of the legal profession

Law Society Gazette (main legal profession journal) continues its negative coverage...

It has been noticeable in recent weeks that the Gazette appears to want to come up with stories saying how awful the market is at the moment. The examples below are just a few of the recent stories that have been in the magazine.

1. An article on the number of interventions "soaring" in 2008.

2. An article with quotations from management consultants saying that firms cannot sell, others are folding and the property market is in collapse.

In neither story did the Gazette mention the numbers or give any evidence of the background to the information they had published. I think this is irresponsible journalism in the vein of the Daily Express and its Diana stories, and the Daily Mail and its prophecies of impending doom!

The interventions story mentioned a figure of 22 interventions in something like 2 months, which is not exactly armageddon! Apologies to the editor if I got the numbers wrong..

The management consultancy story was almost laughable - the Gazette had basically telephoned a couple of consultants who had obviously latched onto the general gist of the story and come up with anecdotes about how awful things were so that they would get published...

One of the anecdotes was regarding a firm not being able to give themselves away to someone else, and the consultant using this as an indication of the market, however in reality this happens all the time and is more to do with the indemnity issue with taking over a conveyancing operation etc on the high street than any market collapse.

Would be nice if journalists could actually report factual news, rather than manufacturing news to sell their journals or get them read...

The legal recruitment job market is directly affected by the news in the quality journals, and it would be nice if respected magazines like the Gazette could actually produce factual news rather than go on a mission to find it.. Partners read it, bolt all the hatches, and all of a sudden vacancies disappear..

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment – www.ten-percent.co.uk. He is also a business improvement consultant with Ten-Percent Business Improvement for law firms. Visit www.ten-percent.co.uk/businessimprovement.html for details.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lawyers working in offshore jurisdictions

Lawyers working in offshore jurisdictions

In 2002, we were approached by a Bermudan firm of good repute and medium size, looking for a recruitment agency in the UK to handle their recruitment of a conveyancing lawyer. We agreed a sole supplier arrangement which basically involved us placing advertisements in the Law Society Gazette, handling the enquiries that stemmed from that, and telephone interviewing the candidates in the first instance. We also posted out to Bermuda a copy of each CV for the 75 applicants, together with our recommendations for actual face to face interviews in London.

As it happened, they decided to fly out a professional locum for a week to see whether he was of interest, and then 2 weeks later informed us that they were compelled by law to employ a Bermudan lawyer who had applied for the post.

What is the moral of the tale?

Firstly, posts in places like Bermuda are greatly sought after, as not only is the location perceived to be glamorous, the pay tends to be rather good.

Secondly, whenever a post is advertised, the agent dealing is going to be inundated with applications.

Thirdly, local legislation can throw rather hefty spanners into the works.

Finally, we discovered afterwards from speaking to other Bermudans and offshore lawyers, that most firms do not expect you to remain at the firm for longer than 12 months, which appears to be the norm for going and living overseas and taking one of these posts. Marmite, frosty mornings and a pint of bitter are some of the main contributory factors. You can only get so much sun, sea and sand before deciding you are a little bored by it all! Furthermore, I have heard it said that these firms do not actually factor in any time off – they almost assume that an on shore lawyer working for them has no family or social life, and therefore needs to work a 70-80 hour week…

The grass may not be greener on the other side….

www.ten-percent.co.uk Legal Recruitment Consultants since 2000, Ten Percent has over 4,500 solicitors registered, and over 1,500 vacancies online at any time. It is called Ten-Percent due to the annual donation of profits to charity that occurs.

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

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Legal Job Market Report 2008

Report dated 2nd April 2008 on the UK legal recruitment & job market from Ten Percent Legal Recruitment Consultants.
www.ten-percent.co.uk
next report due - 2nd May 2008
Prepared by Jonathan Fagan, Managing Director of ten-percent.co.uk limited; specialist legal recruitment consultants for solicitors and legal executives seeking legal jobs and law firms seeking staff in the UK. Click here to visit our online vacancy database
This report is based on our recruitment activities in the legal job market for the past month, and is updated on a regular basis. It is divided into commercial and high street areas. Before viewing this information, please click here to read our disclaimer. View our daily legal recruitment articles and blog

April 2008 Report
Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment is made up of a number of different websites and you can register to improve your prospects via any of our sites. Our sites simply offer law jobs, and we are totally committed to legal recruitment - we operate www.ten-percent.co.uk, our main site, www.jonathanfagan.co.uk (property, wills, probate, litigation), www.conveyancing-jobs.co.uk, www.crime-solicitor.co.uk (crime - duty solicitors, police station accredited reps and NQ), www.eastmidlandslegal.co.uk, www.yorkshire-legal-recruitment.co.uk, www.hampshirelegal.co.uk, www.homecountieslegal.co.uk and www.chancerylane.co.uk (UK legal job board for general practice, corporate and commercial solicitor recruitment). All our sites are an integral part of our legal recruitment group. We also offer a locum service for assignments of more than 1 month at www.ten-percent.co.uk/locum.htm
We remain at the forefront of online recruitment, and currently feature fairly prominently on Google, Yahoo and MSN Search in the top 10 at most times. We retain our commitment to donate 10% of our annual net profits to charity.
Summary
This month has seen a very interesting lurch in recruitment. I have been receiving CVs from conveyancing solicitors being made redundant, particularly in larger firms and organisations that allegedly are capturing the conveyancing market at the expense of the high street firms, and is a really interesting indication of the way that smaller operators in the legal profession can survive, and probably like opticians certainly will do.
The legal job market is quite buoyant still, and despite a slow down around the early easter, we have found plenty of posts coming our way ever since and also good quality candidates..
General Outlook for Permanent and Temporary Recruitment
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 still holding its own, and there appears to be plenty going on all over the place, although the larger players seem to be shedding lawyers and support staff. This is basically what happened last time to recruitment when the market dropped - smaller firms tended to carry on as normal, and larger firms tended to downsize their departments.
It remains the same as always at NQ level - there are firms out there interviewing at present and the number of NQ solicitors is picking up as we approach the summer. More and more of our recruitment is now focused more on experience rather than qualification.
Commercial property remains busy, and there is a real lack of any good candidates in that field at times. There are now no signs of redundancy in commercial property work.

Crime Work
Has started to get a bit better in London, and we are recruiting still across the UK for duty solicitors and accredited reps. Number of firms actively looking, although salaries not at the top end anymore. Duty solicitors on the whole are now being offered about £30,000-£38,000, and this is a change to the level by about £5,000. There are signs of recruitment again for crime, and firms are starting to move forwards as the impact of Carter starts to slow down..
Higher rights posts have not been as impressive as we thought, and not a major development area that was hoped for. Increase in the number of barristers looking for private practice work is a good sign that not all is well at the bar anyway.
www.crime-solicitor.co.uk, www.ten-percent.co.uk - both useful resources for further recruitment information.
High Street Fields
This year the key fields of law on the high street side so far remain wills & probate and commercial property. Commercial litigation and personal injury remain extremely difficult to source work for on the NQ front and in fact we still get many litigators contacting us about each litigation post coming up in London. Personal injury has picked up a little bit in recent months, with posts being registered occasionally in different areas.
Litigation posts as a whole appear to be coming back into fashion after a few years of nothing arising. We have continued to pick up these in the last month or so.
In terms of geographical areas, we remain very strong in Hampshire, the South Coast, Kent, East Anglia, Essex, the South West, East & West Midlands, North Wales, the North West including Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Wills & Probate
Wills & Probate has been an interesting field. Large number of firms looking as they have seen the potential in dealing with IHT work and trusts, which is inevitable following recent house price boom. Quite a lot of vacancies have also come into us from other areas in this field, with increasing numbers in the North West. East Anglia and the Home Counties are doing well at present, together with the South Coast, and the East Midlands is resurgent. London posts remain few and far between. Try visiting www.jonathanfagan.co.uk if interested in receiving further details for private client posts. The South West has seen a massive request for CVs whenever we get a candidate in who may be of interest. Recently experienced such a surge - we arranged over 5 interviews in one day for a middle level wills & probate lawyer in the South West. The same is happening across the board - lots of private client solicitors at a good level will find a large number of firms interested if they look for posts in the regions.
Commercial Property
There remain posts in almost every town for commercial property solicitors from NQ upwards. Firms have almost taken the collective decision that this is going to be the next boom area, and it is time to increase the size of their departments. Commercial property solicitors are in demand for recruitment in every area, and it seems even smaller practices are trying to get in on the action. After the last mini property blip a few years ago, a similar occurrence happened in the legal job market - the commercial property sector boomed. Commercial property solicitors outside of London can contact us (NQ still awkward in some areas) and we would be confident of securing a number of interviews in most areas of the UK, with plenty of the medium to large regional practices looking to take on staff.
Family Law
Still posts there, but not that many - Carter has caught up ... - although outside of London anything above 3 years PQE and if possible panel applications in already is going to result in interviews although this is starting to change with family lawyers needing to move out of London to find work. This remains a poor area to be looking at NQ level though - if you are a panel member outside the North East (which historically has been very poor for family law recruitment), we would be reasonably confident of securing a good number of legal job interviews for you - the south west is a particular hotspot - Plymouth firms in particular.
Company Commercial and other Commercial fields
Corporate commercial solicitors are in demand across the UK, although the salary variations between different types of firms tends to also distinguish between the level of candidate.
Most areas have vacancies which have gone unfilled for a long time for senior and mid level company commercial solicitors not expecting London City firm salaries. Company commercial in the home counties quite popular as usual (3 years PQE upwards).
The Ten-Percent site attracts solicitors and legal executives from across the UK, who register both with us and our specialist sites for our legal recruitment services. Although we deal with most legal jobs, including a subsidiary site for permanent legal secretaries (www.tp-secretaries.co.uk) most of our posts are for solicitors and ILEX candidates.
Our sister sites www.crime-solicitor.co.uk, and www.jonathanfagan.co.uk are usually fairly busy (the latter dealing with conveyancing and private client recruitment). Particular hotspots are detailed below.
Contact for Work
Contact Ten-Percent and register for our jobfinder service . You can contact Jonathan Fagan directly on 0845 644 3923 or at jbfagan@tenpercent.co.uk if you would like to discuss career opportunities. You can also read his blog, Legal Recruitment.
We can provide you with regular updates of vacancies and firms across our entire family of websites. www.jonathanfagan.co.uk for 1-5 year PQEs in conveyancing, litigation or private client legal recruitment, or try our other regional sites www.yorkshire-legal-recruitment.co.uk or www.homecountieslegal.co.uk, www.eastmidlandslegal.co.uk
You can also view our selection site at www.lawyer-recruitment.co.uk
New legal job vacancies into us in the last few weeks are as follows: please click here for our full vacancy database
Recent Vacancies (in since our last report)
Any interest, please drop us an email to jobs@tenpercent.co.uk, quoting the ref. no and attaching a CV.
Reference
Job Title

Location
Description
13374
Employment Solicitor
West London
Recently qualified employment solicitor sought by central London firm to assist in department.
13372
Debt Recovery Litigation
Nottingham
A medium sized firm based in Nottingham have a vacancy for a litigator This is a new post to be created which would very much depend on the successful candidate. It would probably mainly be commercial debt recovery and some company law.
13371
Wills & Probate Solicitor
Brighton
Hove firm looking for a Wills and Probate solicitor with some experience
13370
Conveyancing Solicitor
East London
East London Firm have a vacancy for a Conveyancing Solicitor with sound experience of both Commercial and Residential work to join them.
13369
Personal Injury Solicitor
Chester
Chester firm are looking for a personal injury lawyer with dual qualification in UK and Irish law. Very competetive salary on offer.
13368
Litigation Solicitor
Tunbridge Wells
Rapidly expanding, forward thinking firm, with offices in Sussex and London, looking for experienced litigation solicitors for their East Sussex office
13367
Conveyancing Solicitor
Tunbridge Wells
Rapidly expanding, forward thinking firm with offices in Sussex and London, looking for experienced conveyancing olicitors for their East Sussex office
13366
Wills & Probate Solicitor
Tunbridge Wells
Rapidly expanding, forward thinking firm with offices in Sussex and London, looking for experienced Wills & Probate Solicitors for their East Sussex office
13365
Litigation Solicitor
South East London
Rapidly expanding, forward thinking firm, with offices in Sussex and London, looking for experienced litigation solicitors for their South East London office
13364
Conveyancing Solicitor
South East London
Rapidly expanding, forward thinking firm, with offices in Sussex and London, looking for experienced conveyancing solicitors for their South East London office
13363
Wills & Probate Solicitors
South East London
Rapidly expanding, forward thinking firm with offices in Sussex and London, looking for experienced Wills & Probate Solicitors for their South East London office
13362
Conveyancing Fee Earner
East London
A Firm in East London have a vacancy for a Conveyancing Fee Earner to work on all aspects of a Residential Conveyancing Caseload. Must be at least LPC qualified, have 2 years experience and able to work independently on a large volume caseload.
13361
Solicitor

Chester
North Wales Firm looking for a NQ or recently qualified Solicitor to work on a mixed caseload of Private Client and Conveyancing work.
13359
Conveyancer
Nottingham
a well established firm based in Nottinghamshire have a vacancy for a conveyancer to run a small branch office with 2 or 3 members of staff
13358
Crime Solicitor
Ilford
Duty Solicitor sought by an established Essex Firm.
13357
Immigration Solicitor
East London
A new immigration vacancy has arisen with a firm in Walthamstow. A 5 solicitor, 2 partner practice looking to expand as well as move into new offices in Ilford in the next few months, one of their immigration lawyers has just retired. They seek someone Level 2 accredited to replace them. The work is 80% LSC, and 20% privately funded.
13356
Wills & Probate Solicitor
Tunbridge Wells
Tunbridge Wells firm are looking to recruit a senior member to join their well established Private Client team. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who wishes to progress their career and the firm are seeking candidates with partnership potential. Based in their Tunbridge Wells office, you will enjoy all the support and infrastructure of a large, well established firm, and have the opportunity to work with 'Leaders in their field'.
13355
Crime Solicitor
Hereford
Crime solicitor with police station accreditation
13353
Wills and Probate Solicitor
Colchester
A Firm of smaller size in central Colchester have a current vacancy for a Solicitor to join them and work on a Wills and Probate Caseload. They will consider applicants looking to work on a mixed caseload including Litigation and Conveyancing.
13352
Personal Injury Fee Earner
Ilford
Personal Injury fee earner sought by Ilford firm.
13350
Senior Family Lawyer
Cambridge
Senior Family Solicitor or Legal Executive with panel membership sought by Cambridgeshire firm.
13349
Wills and Probate Solicitor
Norwich
Leading Firm in Kings Lynn seek a Wills and Probate Solicitor, at Partner level. High value probate work and tax planning part of the diverse caseload. Excellent long-term prospects.
13348
Wills & Probate Solicitor
Oxford
Wills & Probate solicitor sought by Abingdon firm - all levels considered. Larger sized multi office practice.
13347
Commercial Property Solicitor
Central Bristol Firm have a vacancy for a Senior Commercial Property Solicitor with 4-6 years PQE to work on a wide ranging and interesting caseload. Marketing experience desirable.
13346
Family Child Care Solicitor
Oxford
Vacancy for a senior solicitor to deal with a care proceedings caseload (public children law).
13345
Family Solicitor
Oxford
Vacancy for a recently qualified family solicitor to deal with private law family matters including divorce, ancillary relief, contact orders, residence orders

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Response to Law Society Gazette Editor

Dear Mr Rogerson,

Many thanks for taking the time to respond.

I suspect the Daily Express uses the same justification when they print headlines day after day for months on end about the pending collapse of the property market, the end of the world and Princess Diana conspiracy theories. They are just reporting news..

My point is that you are the leading trade magazine for the legal profession, but at times you appear to collectively act as if it is your job to criticise solicitors and give them a good kick up the proverbial behind. Your selection of news is of course subjective, and I have to say that you appear to select news which does not help the profession feel good about itself, and also does not really have any foundation in the reality of everyday working life as experienced by the majority of the legal profession.

The solicitor who discovered their job had disappeared the day after the article was not introduced by ourselves, and you do not need to be sorry for recruitment companies potentially losing money! Of course reporting of news should not be based on whether a company will lose money, but I think personally, as a solicitor and commentator, you could be slightly more choosy with the articles you choose to run with on your front page for a headline.. I think you have a responsibility to the profession to ensure that the information is balanced and the publication of the opinions to be justifiable.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Fagan
Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment
www.ten-percent.co.uk
0845 644 3923

Response from Law Society Gazette Editor

SirIt would certainly be grossly ‘irresponsible’ for the Gazette to self-censor when eminent legal business commentators – and Professor Mayson is one of the most eminent – deliver uncomfortable messages. Our editorial policy is quite clear. We ‘do not avoid controversial issues and issues of relevance’. If someone of Professor Mayson’s stature forecasting a major job shake-out is not a ‘matter of relevance’, then I don’t know what is. Had someone with no knowledge of or insight into the profession made these predictions then there would have been no story.

With regard to your assertion that the Gazette has a ‘negative view’ of the profession, you seem to be confusing the medium with the message - ‘shooting the messenger’, to use the common term. Nowhere does the Gazette state that Mayson is right. The views expressed in the Gazette are those of their author, as our editorial policy also makes plain. Indeed, the editorial of the same issue suggests he may be overstating his case. Moreover, I am at a loss as to how the Gazette can check on the veracity of something which hasn’t happened yet and may not happen at all. Yet it is not our job to put our hands over our eyes and ears and try and wish things away.

Our readers are entitled to know what legal business commentators such as Professor Mayson are thinking. They are grown-ups who can make their own judgments on whether he will be proved right, as indeed you have made yours. With regard to your final comments, I am sorry if you have lost money as a consequence of readers responding to the Gazette’s news stories. However, it is not, nor ever has been, a function of the Gazette to consider how our editorial coverage might affect the earnings of recruitment consultancies. We cannot rightly be accused of ‘irresponsibility’ in this respect either. The Gazette is, after all, partly funded by recruitment advertising.Paul RogersonEditor in chiefGazette