Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Legal aid work goes up in a credit crunch

In the last few months we have seen a large rise in the number of Legal Service Commission funded posts. It seems that a lot of firms are looking to expand their legal aid departments and take on new staff and a number of practices have applied and been awarded LSC contracts in areas that until recently were avoided like the plague by solicitors firms!

We were recently approached by a firm who now have a contract in employment, welfare benefits, debt, housing, community care and mental health work and were on the look out for solicitors and paralegals to join and develop these areas of practice.

This has not happened for quite some time, as firms have been concentrating on getting out of legal aid work and do more high street matters such as conveyancing and wills and probate.

I think we are seeing a cycle return now with the collapse of the conveyancing market and firms are starting to go back into the legal aid areas.

If my memory serves me correctly, the firm who have registered the recent set of vacancies were only fairly recently looking to take on conveyancers and private client solicitors.

That has clearly now changed and it looks as if the firm are heading back to dealing with legal aid work.

It is very interesting from a recruiter perspective as only two to three years ago, we were finding large numbers of LSC funded fields were disappearing and departments closing down but there were a good number of redundancies, for example, of crime solicitors and it has only been recently that crime has again picked up in terms of recruitment. There are now quite a large number of firms recruiting duty solicitors, although matters have changed slightly in that a good number of them now want lawyers only, there are still vacancies there.

In fact, I did a quick straw poll in the Law Society Gazette last night and noted that 40 percent of the vacancies in the back of the Gazette were crime solicitors. Out of these, at least 70 percent of them were freelancer or people to be paid commission based on the work that they did and are in positions. I predicted about a year ago that this was the way to fight a falling revenue from LSC.

So although the areas of recruitment have changed, so have the ways of recruiting. Things are not the same anymore.

As the recession picks up it will be interesting to see how many firms ditch the LSC funded work again and go back to conveyancing and other fields that are so much more profitable when the economy is thriving..

In summary, as the economy picks up, so will the number of posts for non-LSC funded work.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and our website is www.ten-percent.co.uk