Sunday, December 29, 2013

Law Students - Make a New Years Resolution not to get a 2.2 degree or Suffer the Consequences for the Rest of your Career

A message for all law students in their 1st, 2nd or even 3rd year. 

Make one New Years Resolution as follows:

"I will not get a 2.2 degree. I will work harder and get a 2.1."

In fact you could make two resolutions - the other resolution would be to get as much legal work experience as you possibly can but this does not add as much to your career at this stage as the first resolution so we will stick with this!

If you do not get a 2.1 or 1st class degree (and it seems a lot easier these days at certain Universities to get the latter), your legal career will be damaged. Forever. And Ever. And Ever More.

'What a load of nonsense' I hear you say. 
'Why would my career be affected in 20 years time by a degree I get when I am 21 years old?'

Why indeed! Unfortunately the legal profession is relatively easy to enter at a certain level, but very difficult to enter at another level. The difference is the salary you will earn for the rest of your career.

If you are happy earning £20,000 to £30,000 for pretty much the remainder of your career (until you are 65 years old) feel free to not bother working very hard at your degree and get a 2.2 or even worse a 3rd.

Chances are you will end up doing paralegal jobs for about 5 years, followed by a training contract you may well have managed to source courtesy of your paralegal work. When you qualify and apply for other firms who will pay you more than £15,000 some will reject you. Those that do not are likely to only offer you between £20,000 and £30,000. After about 3-4 years you will apply for other jobs, advertised at better pay levels, and be unpleasantly surprised when you get rejected. It may be that the firm you are applying to do not like your first firm, but more likely they will take one look at your degree and decide you are a bit of a slacker.

If you are not happy earning £20,000 to £30,000 do yourself a favour and work harder. It will change your life. Honestly.

Barristers

I won't even go near the barrister side of the profession. OK you've talked me into it.

Got a 2.2, no family links, not head boy or girl, not captain of the rugby or netball team or national champion debater coupled with no quality legal work experience in Chambers that lasted more than 5 days? Don't even bother doing the BPTC. Unless you are a glutton for lots of punishment and unrewarded effort coupled with forking out for the LPC as well as the BPTC once you have finished.


'I don't care, I'll just work as a legal executive.' 

Of course you will. After all, firms are crying out for lots of underqualified legal executives with 2.2 law degrees and no legal work experience. Legal executives tend to be grafters who have worked their way up through the ranks - secretaries, PAs, unqualified fee earners. Very few make the decision to become an ILEX out of choice. People tend to fall into this route and there is nothing wrong with this. However doing a law degree is not really going to push your career forward very much when going down this route.


A Horror Story
Let me tell you a horror story in one last effort to make you realise how important my advice above is.

I have recently been recruiting for a specialist solicitor post with a Tier 1 Legal 500 law firm. The field of law will stay anonymous at this stage. The firm require someone with about 4-5 different areas of expertise, most of which any solicitor working in any law firm in the country in this field of law will have. Salary levels are probably 50-75% higher than these candidates will get elsewhere. We have had applications from all types of candidates; those with outstanding experience in some areas and some from those with a bit of experience of all the areas.

However a lot of candidates have been unpleasantly surprised by instant rejection. We have even had telephone calls from indignant candidates asking why we haven't progressed them. I'll let you into a secret... this firm only recruit candidates with consistent academic achievement, even though they are looking at solicitors with 10-20 years PQE (PQE stands for Post Qualified Experience).

Consistent academic achievement means a minimum 2.1 degree classification plus good A levels (or equivalent). It does not mean a 2.2 degree followed up by a masters degree to try and hide the 2.2 degree as this is not academically consistent.

So even though perhaps it shouldn't, your law degree has an effect on you for the rest of your career. Get used to it. You are entering one of the most rigid professions in the country (after doctors and dentists) and getting a 2.1 degree is yet another burning hoop you have to jump through.

Does a 2.2 make a difference to who you are? I am not sure about that but whether this is right or wrong we do notice from time to time that candidates with poor or low academic results are more likely to have a grammatical or spelling mistake on their CV. Does this follow through into the candidate's work? Who knows. However legal employers seem to think so....

Jonathan Fagan, Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and Interim Lawyers.


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.

www.ten-percent.co.uk/careersshop
 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Employment Allowance - new tax break

The Employment Allowance - new tax break for small firms

The Employment Allowance was brought in for the last budget announcement. It appears to be a rather generous tax break which in return for ticking a box when doing PAYE online, SMEs get £2k knocked off their national insurance bill. There seems nothing else to it and apparently it also includes directors' salaries. This may be an attempt to encourage more limited companies to pay more of their senior staff in wages rather than dividends. We received an interesting update recently from a business magazine which included a link to the government's employment allowance calculator - www.employmentallowance.com/allowance-calculator. The start date is April 2014. Lets hope it turns out to be as good as it sounds..

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

How to retain staff during the Christmas Holidays

Retaining Staff after Christmas - A Guide

It is well known in recruitment circles that one of the best times to pick up new quality candidates is between Christmas and the New Year. There are a number of reasons for this but the main ones we seem to come across time and again are below. Most of these are avoidable as you will see:
  1. Inappropriate comments or behaviour at the staff Christmas party.
  2. No staff Christmas party arranged.
  3. No Christmas bonus paid.
  4. No Christmas cards, presents or bonus paid.
  5. No bonus paid despite one being promised (and/or pay rise).
  6. Lawyers having too much time to think about their workplace and colleagues when not at work.
  7. No chance of any progression and no real plans for the future indicated by the firm.
  8. Being called into work between Christmas and the New Year when other senior staff in the firm are still off work (good time for job hunting).
  9. No spirit of Christmas shown on the last day before the Christmas break (it is so easy to break up an additional hour early on Friday 20th!).
  10. A realisation over the Christmas that the candidate really hates the firm and it is time for a change.
8 out of 10 of these can be easily avoided. Replacing and recruiting staff is a very expensive business. Much cheaper to keep your existing employees!

Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor, qualified recruitment consultant and Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here - www.linkedin.com/in/jbfagan

 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

Reference Checks and Rogue Candidates

Reference Checks - Lessons Learned

In this day and age, with LinkedIn, Facebook, Company-check.co.uk (very useful resource) and all the other online tools available, one would imagine that it is very difficult indeed for anyone to attempt to submit a CV and not be fully checkable. Unfortunately there are still those out there who try and a recent experience of a candidate registering for locum work has meant a tightening of our procedures as to who gets to register and be introduced for work.

A candidate registered with us and started to express an interest in locum and consultancy posts. We were a little bemused by the CV because it had numerous sections on that were more than just a little ambiguous in terms of the work undertaken in the recent past.

A check online did not reveal very much at all, but we received a tip off from a firm to say that the candidate's name had been changed slightly and in fact he had received a rather lengthy prison sentence for a multi-million pound VAT fraud, which might well explain why the CV was a little vague!

On discovering this we removed the candidate from our records but discovered him applying for roles on some of our satellite sites. He had not described himself as a solicitor but had become a 'legal consultant' since his incarceration.

Lesson learned! We have tightened up our procedures to try and ensure that candidates like this are unable to access our clients and vacancies.

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

The Legal Practice Course - Unsustainable and Time for a Change?

The Legal Practice Course - time for a change?

We recently had a look at a few statistics surrounding the Legal Practice Course.

The current cost of undertaking the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law ranges from £10,845 to £13,905.
The Graduate Diploma in Law is £7,240 to £9,820 (depends on location).
Wolverhampton University fees, as a comparison, are £9,010 for the Legal Practice Course and Manchester Metropolitan charges £5,560 for the Graduate Diploma in Law.

According to government statistics there were 93,575 law undergraduates in 2011-2012. In 2011-2012 there were 4,869 training contracts available.

Assuming that over half of these are people who don't want a training contract, or go down the BPTC route, this still leaves a lot of potential candidates out there who are not going to get qualified - the figure does not include those entering via the GDL route.

If you consider that since 2008 the training contract figure has not increased, it means that there are probably well over 100,000 law graduates since 2008 who have not entered the legal profession via the solicitor route.

Thinking through the cost of the LPC - if you now complete this and get a training contract on the high street, assuming your salary remains less than £16,000 for the first two years of your training and less than £25,000 for the next two years, you are going to take about 6 years to pay off the fee (paying it at £200 a month). A mortgage and a family must remain a very distant possibility for most NQs at the moment.

Does this level of cost really create a sustainable future flow of potential trainee solicitors, or just deter those who do not have relatives and connections already in the business? Has the time come to restrict the academic institutions from providing LPC courses to those who stand little or no chance of ever progressing with a legal career?

Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor, qualified recruitment consultant and Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here - www.linkedin.com/in/jbfagan

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