Monday, January 21, 2013

What is the Cheapest Way to Expand a Law Firm?

We have been asked a question today by a 2 partner practice in Central London - what, in our opinion is the cheapest and most effective way to expand a law firm?

The firm started by asking us how they get to take on a solicitor who would be prepared to join a firm and work on a profit share basis. Could they recruit a former sole practitioner who maybe had had enough, and does that type of candidate exist? They have the space, they have the capacity to recruit more staff and would like to expand the firm.

We advised them that yes, these types of candidate exist. A law firm cannot expect to immediately fill
this type of vacancy - in fact we do not work them unless firms join us as members (details on our website at www.ten-percent.co.uk/membership-services).

Law firms can see that solicitors are prepared to work on a commission only basis, a fee split or a profit share - you can see large full page ads in the back of the Law Society Gazette to get an idea of this. Similarly a good number of the solicitors at the larger firms offering this type of arrangement are registered candidates with Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and looking for salaried work, so this probably gives you an idea of how successful these arrrangements are for some solicitors.

Secondly solicitors with following tend to be a little more fickle about loyalty. After all if they have moved once, they may be prepared to move again if they suddenly dont like you. Your relationship with this type of solicitor will be very different from the conventional employee/employer working practice. The firm then emailed back to ask about what else they could do to take on extra staff, expand and plan for succession and the future.

The partner complained that taking on paralegals tends to be a short term option. I answered that it depends whether you take on a paralegal with a view to training them up and have a longer term view for partnership, or whether you take on a paralegal with a view to working them to extract as much as you can out of them...

I see partners all over the country complaining about a lack of commitment from staff and then offering them peanuts and working them to the bone. Similarly I meet lots of candidates who have been with one or two firms since they set out in law and these are the types you want to recruit - saves money time and effort but does need commitment from you as a partner.

The firm also asked about recruiting a solicitor who had been practising as a sole practitioner - I advised that in my experience sole practitioners closing down firms tend to fall into two categories -

1) old (no insult to older people intended!) and wanting to slow down or
2) failed and damaged goods - whether with restrictions on from the LSC or generally depressed about the whole thing!

Neither fit in very well at all with a firm wanting to expand and expect enthusiasm and hard work from a new employee. Sole practitioners exist and we have introduced them before but decent ones are rare - after all if you were successful why wouldn’t you just take on a few staff yourself and cease to be a sole practitioner?

Best recruitment I have ever been involved in overall in terms of longevity is 1-3 year PQE solicitors who are then treated well by the firm they join and remain in the same practice. This is the point of my article - there is no such thing as a cheap way to expand a law firm - you have to speculate to accumulate after all.

Jonathan Fagan is a Senior Legal Recruitment Consultant (and non-practising solicitor) with Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - Online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search or download our Vacancy Database or view our Candidate Database online.
Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession. To visit our Sale/Clearance section please click here.
www.ten-percent.co.uk/careersshop
 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Report on Jobs for January 2013 - REC and KPMG

The KPMG and REC Report on Jobs is just out - this measures the recruitment market on a monthly basis by requesting data from recruitment agencies, including ourselves (Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment).

Main points are:
  • Permanent placements and temporary billings rise at slower rates
  • Job vacancies increase at fastest pace for 20 months
  • Availability of permanent staff declines
  • Temp availability unchanged
  • Pay growth quickens but remains subdued overall
The Report on Jobs is a monthly publication produced by Markit and sponsored by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG LLP.

The main findings for December are:

Slower rises in permanent and temporary appointments...

Although there were further increases in permanent and temporary staff appointments during December, in both cases the rates of growth eased since November.

...despite vacancies increasing at faster pace

Demand for staff continued to rise in December. The rate of expansion of overall job vacancies quickened to the fastest in 20 months. Data signalled increased vacancies from both private and public sector employers.

Fall in availability of permanent staff

The availability of permanent staff declined in December for the first time since April, albeit modestly. Temporary/contract staff availability was meanwhile unchanged, ending a 56-month sequence of growth.

Moderate increases in wages and salaries

Rates of inflation of permanent salaries and temp wages quickened to 15- and nine-month highs respectively in December, although remained modest overall.

Recruitment consultancies report on the number of people placed in permanent jobs each month, and their revenues (billings) received from placing people in temporary or contract positions at employers.

Recruitment consultancies signalled another month of rising staff appointments in December. However, rates of expansion in both permanent placements and temp billings eased since November.

Slower rise in permanent appointments...

After accounting for expected seasonal factors, the latest data signalled an increase in the number of people placed in permanent roles for the third month running during December. Although still solid, the rate of expansion eased to the weakest in that sequence following November’s 19-month high.

Data for the English regions showed that growth of permanent placements remained strongest in the North during December. The Midlands also saw a marked rise, while growth in the South was solid. In contrast, London registered a sharp drop in placements.

...while temp billings also increase at weaker pace

Agencies’ billings from the employment of short-term staff continued to rise in December, extending the current period of growth to five months. The rate of expansion was solid, despite easing from November’s 20-month record.

Growth of temp billings was broad-based across the English regions in the latest survey period, with the South posting the fastest rise. The weakest increase was signalled in London.

Commenting on the latest survey results, Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, said:

“It’s concerning to see the pace of recruitment slowing. Job placements may still be moving in the right direction but questions must now be asked about whether the declining rate of growth is indicative of a longer-term problem. It seems that the time lag many economists spoke about towards the end of last year is shrinking, as employers delay decisions until they have more certainty about the economy. Individuals are also showing signs that they’d rather stick with what they know, as the numbers making themselves available for permanent roles has dropped for the first time since April 2012.

“However, with some areas of the country outperforming others and the private sector seeing more job placements in December the hope must be that employers will handle this latest setback. They certainly reacted positively to news that a fiscal cliff was avoided in the US and, if this is anything to go by, we should see the trend for rising employment continue. It may be slower than in the last few months of 2012, but growth should still be welcomed.”

Jonathan Fagan, MD at Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - Online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search or download our Vacancy Database or view our Candidate Database online.
Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession.
 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Interview Question & Answer – Are you able to supply any references and if yes, who? What do you think they would say about you?

Interview Question & Answer – Are you able to supply any references and if yes, who? What do you think they would say about you?
Firstly the answer to this question always has to be yes, secondly you need to make sure the references on your CV are legally related if at all possible and thirdly you need to explain that they would have nothing but positive things to say about you. There is really no other answer to this question unless you have very specific circumstances that necessitate further explanation.
If you have been in employment recently where you will not be able to get a reference because of an acrimonious departure (whether this is any fault of your own or not) you need to be careful in the way you approach this in interview. Very often people get worried about the issue of references and employers get away with murder as a result because employees are frightened that they may not be able to work again due to the lack of a reference. There are always options on references and it is fairly easy to pick up references from work places even if the employers and yourself have fallen out.
Have a think about all the people you have worked with in recent times and come up with two who have seen your work in action over the last couple of years. If there are issues with your most recent employer then think about a colleague you have worked with or someone else you have had daily interaction with, whether this is a solicitor from another firm who you’ve dealt with regularly or a Judge or a manager elsewhere. You can use any one of these as a reference and I do not think an employer will necessarily hold this against you.
At the same time if you do not have any issues then your two references will be your most recent employer and, depending on how far your career stretches back, either an academic reference or someone from a previous firm or colleague who knows you.
If you have departed from a firm on an acrimonious basis or only stayed for a short period of time it is often worth making sure you have a To Whom it May Concern reference before you leave so that you can produce this instead of the future employer needing to go back to the past employer and there being issues with the reference that may have an effect on you at a later stage.
Always give the answer in interview if asked that the references will say nothing but positive things about you because one would not expect a reference to have been sent over that was anything different.
If you are at the start of your career and this is a paralegal or training contract application then you will probably be using an academic reference and someone from recent work experience or part time job. If at all possible try and get the professional title of the academic reference. If you have been studying for your legal degree or the LPC it is likely that the tutor will be either a solicitor or barrister, even though they are probably of the non-practising variety. It is worth having this on a CV as it makes a little bit of difference. The other referee needs to be someone who you have worked with if at all possible. Try to avoid putting down a person who just happens to live next door and is the family GP as this is not really much of a reference to give a future employer.
Sample Answer
“Yes, I can supply two references. These would be from my recent employer and my past employer. The reference from my last employer has said how exemplary my work record is, the fact that I’ve had no days off for sickness and that I was a valued member of the team and sorely missed”.
Jonathan Fagan is MD and recruitment consultant for Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and Interim Lawyers. Jonathan is the author of www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.com and all our articles are published here and also at www.legal-recruitment.co.uk – our monthly newsletter site. This extract is taken from our forthcoming book - 100 interview questions and answers. Our other legal careers ebooks can be found at our Legal Careers Shop.

Monday, January 07, 2013

January 2013 New Year Predictions from a Psychic

New Year Predictions Last year we carried an article in our January Newsletter about predictions from 2011 by the experts (and ourselves) on the state of the legal profession, the economy and general life. This year, for something different, we have included a list of predictions from a self-professed online pyschic, Craig Hamilton-Parker (taken from www.psychics.co.uk).

1. War in the Middle East - February. Israel will attack Iran.
2. Terrorist attack on Chicago in the summer.
3. Syrian uprising to continue. Iran to invade.
4. Poor grain harvest to occur in Russia.
5. Robert Mugabe will be assassinated in the Autumn.
6. Revolution in China - June 2013. China to split up.
7. Google will be attacked by terrorists.
8. Search engine to be released in Europe - funded by the EU.
 9. Spain's economy to fall apart.
10. Ed Milliband to be replaced by Yvette Cooper.
11. NIck Clegg to fight off a challenge from Vince Cable.
12. Victoria Beckham to launch a range of maternity clothing.
13. Kate Middleton to announce she is pregnant in May 2013.
 14. Simon Cowell to become more spiritual.

 Number 13 looks as if it may have been written a little prematurely... It would be very interesting to hear of Mr Hamilton-Parker's methodology for predicting these events - does it involve reading tea leaves, studying the stars or simply writing random thoughts in his head after reading the newspaper? Jonathan Fagan - MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment 

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - Online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search or download our Vacancy Database or view our Candidate Database online.
Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession. To visit our Sale/Clearance section please click here.
www.ten-percent.co.uk/careersshop