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Showing posts from 2008

Flexibility is the Key to Survival in a Recession

I have read a lot of articles recently from business experts on how to survive the recession and including advice from people who had been through the last two recessions as to how to cope with the downturn in business trade sales and just about everything else. One thing that comes through all my reading is that flexibility is the key to survival. I’ll give you a quick example as to how it has affected our business, Ten Percent Legal Recruitment . Ten Percent Legal Recruitment offers the lowest recruitment fees in the UK for the recruitment of permanent and temporary lawyers with law firms, in house departments and local authorities. We have been charging 15 percent fees for many years now without any increases according to the salary or type of post. Our competitors start their fees at 18 percent and they go up to anything around 35 percent. Since the recession has kicked in, we have been getting requests from firms to lower our fees, which is fairly rare for us as our clients ar

Conveyancing Jobs - 40% of firms make redundancies - surely more?

40 percent of conveyancing firms report redundancies (surely more than this???!!) The Law Society Gazette reported a while ago that 40 percent of law firms had made redundancies in their conveyancing departments. This was based on a survey of 1300 firms who were all clients of one particular company. About 33 percent of firms said that the slump had not affected them and that there was no freeze on recruitment and that things were continuing as normal. Richard Barnett, of Barnett Solicitors, who is also head of a law society conveyancing body said that he could not believe this was possible, that firms were in all probability putting their heads in the sand. I can agree with Richard Barnett as the evidence on the ground is simply overwhelming to show that almost every firm has ceased to recruit conveyancing solicitors and in quite a lot of circumstances, this has also affected other departments, including wills and probate, family, litigation, crime and anything else a high stree

No Legal Work Experience – Quasi-Legal Roles

"I don’t have any legal experience in my career to date although I do have prior work experience in different careers." This came up quite regularly in a recent seminar session at a University. Quite a lot of the students said that they did not have legal experience but had former careers in other fields. However, when we went through this in further detail, quite a lot of the students actually did have work experience to a certain degree and it was just a case of getting it out of them. A couple of examples were two students who had been directors or involved in the running of claims management companies and another student who had worked as an employment officer; there were also students who had been contract officers, employment managers and even IT consultants. A quasi-legal role is one that involves some element of law but not actually working as a lawyer. Examples would include someone dealing with race equality or employment issues or somebody handling contract neg

Investors in People – what’s it all about?

Ten Percent Legal Recruitment has been recommended for Investors in People status (still waiting for accreditation to be confirmed), and it has been interesting to see what the whole assessment entails. We have always been very open with everyone who has worked within the company and also anyone who has asked us questions about the company as well and we hope that this is a good place to work. Obviously being in a sales and performance driven industry means that it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the approach we have seems to be very open with very little discipline or rigidity in the way that we work. As a result of this, most of our consultants work on flexible hours and this means that we are able to recruit a good standard of consultant to work for us as they do not find many opportunities elsewhere. The IIP basically is a way of recognising the way that an organisation works and giving it value so that external organisations can see that the level has been attained internally.

Bradford and Bingley gets nationalised – effect on housing market

What fault can be placed at the door of the banks and building societies who are facing serious collapse at present? Bradford & Bingley Building Society were nationalised because of the amount of potentially dodgy mortgage debt they have and concerns about their ability to keep trading when the capital that was supporting them has gone. There has been a lot of blame on the banks and the building societies for this situation, but one of the things that has not come up in this is the buy to let applicants themselves. Five years ago, I was talking to someone who had entered the buy to let market who had purchased their first flat with a genuine set of details, before moving on and purchasing countless other properties and flats using what can only be described as fraudulent documents and making statements that were clearly not true and hence, obtained in a pecuniary advantage by deception. The key to all of this was mainly that they would make the application for the first property

Why should I go on a Ten Percent Legal Careers Workshop?

Ten Percent Legal Recruitment is running Legal Careers Workshops in London on Tuesday 16th December for law students and graduates, or anyone wanting to get into the legal profession. The day starts at 10am, finishes at 5pm and is probably the most intensive course you can think of to fit everything relating to starting your legal career into one day and to keep the cost affordable to law students and graduates. In a nutshell it is seven hours of information and practice to ensure that you get the best shot at starting your legal career. Timetable: 9.45 am Registration and refreshments 10 am Assessment Day Workshop 11.15 am Break for refreshments 11.30 am Interview Workshop 1 pm Lunch (provided) 1.45 pm CV Workshop 3 pm Break for refreshments 3.15 pm Covering letter workshop 3.45 pm Application form workshop 4.30 pm General career and individual questions The course covers just abou

BNI Breakfast Meetings – what are they all about?

This morning I have been to a visitors’ breakfast of a BNI breakfast meeting. I have never been to one of these before and I should start this article by saying that I am not a member and have no links to the BNI. I had looked on the website before I went, as well, as read the email from the inviter that warned me that I would be doing a 45 second speech about my company. I went to a local golf club for the meeting and there were about 15 people there. I paid £7.50 for a breakfast and the meeting consisted of an introduction from the regional director that lasted about 15 minutes, followed by each person there speaking for one minute about the organisation they were involved with and then a talk by the assistant director on the benefits of being in the Business Network International. The cost of joining the BNI is £400 for the year with £100 membership fee. As the regional director pointed out, it actually costs quite a bit more than this because you have to pay for your breakfasts

Credit Crunch Affecting Nine Out of Ten Employers

It has been reported in a survey that 90 percent of employers have said that the credit crunch is affecting their business. The survey by Peninsular Law has found that 74 percent of employers have implemented a recruitment freeze and 64 percent have not ruled out making some of their staff redundant. Whilst there are no indications of the number of employers surveyed for this report, it is certainly fairly gloomy. The idea of a recruitment freeze is a fairly quick fix option as usually staff wages are the highest cost to a business. The problem is though that as soon as staff are made redundant, the whole business is threatened, firstly because buyers are aware of the redundancies when they phone up to speak to staff and secondly, when work does come in, the staff that are left find that they have to cope with increased volumes and it has an effect on their productivity as well. Some of this is certainly a panic on the part of just about everybody with the threat of the words credit

Legal job update November 2008

"An incompetent lawyer can delay a trial for months or years. A competent lawyer can delay one even longer." Evelle Younger. "Welcome to the November Newsletter for Law Firms and Companies. I hope you find it of interest - we have released our latest legal job market report, and you can find details below." Jonathan Fagan LLM Solicitor (non-practising), MREC, CertRP, Managing Director, Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited. Legal Job Market Report - Nov 3rd 08 - 66% fall in new Jobs Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment, online recruitment specialists and part of the Ten-Percent Recruitment Group, reported today that legal jobs for solicitors and qualified lawyers registered with them were down by 66% compared with the same time last year. Jonathan Fagan, MD, said "during October 2007, 57 legal jobs (all at solicitor or higher) were posted with our agency by law firms and in house legal departments. In October 2008 this had reduced by 66% to 19 jobs. We have also recorded a red

How to find a new job?

There are lots of ways of looking for work, and as the job market contracts, it becomes harder to find jobs. In some professions it can turn into a hunt for a needle in a haystack. Not so long ago, the property market was booming and estate agents, solicitors and mortgage brokers were in great demand. Recruitment agencies reported that there was a large surplus of jobs and no candidates to fill them. In early 2008, the property market collapsed and suddenly there were lots of conveyancing lawyers and estate agents looking for work and no jobs for them to go into. This got worse in the months to follow as there were less and less jobs and more and more people looking for work. Redundancies were rife across the market and instead of having vacancies free, companies found themselves with lots of candidates applying for work. This mirrors previous slumps in the market in other fields and is often the case when a large portion of the market suddenly stops being economically viable and l

How to make someone redundant or let them go

The climate at present in the UK is one of impending redundancy across all sectors. Whilst this may be a good or bad thing, here is our tip sheet on how to make a redundancy or let a member of staff go. For most people it is a very stressful time, and it can results in sleepless nights worrying about the effect of the redundancy on the individual and also the way to couch it effectively. Often it can involve making someone redundant who you really like and value as a colleague and employee, and do not want to see them leave the business. However, the economic climate is such that harsh decisions have to be made in order to ensure the survival of the company and to trim costs. 1. Be transparent. You have to be clear with your reasons for the redundancy and stick with them. The reasons have to be genuine ones as opposed to made up ones or reasons to make it sound better. 2. Plan what you are going to say – it is important to have an idea in your head

Interview question - tell me something about yourself

Job interview question – “Tell me something about yourself” This question was recently asked by a company in London and the candidate was slightly flummoxed by it as she did not know what to say or what exactly the interviewer was looking for. Our advice would be to condense your CV into 45 seconds and give the interviewer a potted history of yourself. This will be particularly relevant if the question was asked at the beginning of the interview as this is often when an interviewer has not yet formulated their questions and answers. So for example, if I was answering this question, I would say: “My name is Jonathan Fagan and I am 35 years old. I live in village in North Wales near to Chester and I am married to a GP and have three children aged one year to four years. I have a full driving licence and my educational background is GCSE, A-level then off to university at Salford, Leicester, De Montfort and Newcastle. I have a Masters degree in Law and LLB and the LPC together with v

What rates do locums charge?

Recently, a firm have asked us to find them a locum but do not know what exactly a locum does or how much exactly they cost. A company called us to ask us for a locum to cover for between three and seven weeks. We checked with our locums, found three or four and arranged one of these who was particularly strong and available. They interviewed him and he was quite happy with their set up and he was keen to take the position. We then had a telephone call from the managing director informing us that his budget was £100 a day and would that person be able to work within that. Our locum gave us the answer we expected, somewhat incredulous, how dare they waste my time. It was almost as if the company thought that locums charge less than permanent staff as a permanent member of staff on this person’s salary would be earning over £40,000. It would mean that on the rule of thumb, a locum rate would probably be closer to £60,000 for that length of time. How much does a locum charge? It dep

ECJ ruling on Age Discrimination

It’s been reported that the recommendation at the first level of the ECJ has ruled that automatic ages for retirement are not direct age discrimination. A case was being brought to say that the idea of forcing someone to retire at a particular age was in breach of age discrimination regulations, from memory I think this was a partner of a large London law firm who was bringing the case. I understand that there are a further 125 cases of a similar nature that are waiting on this decision, no doubt the claimants will be a little disappointed by this outcome, which although is not yet finalised is fairly likely to be followed through by the court when it makes its decision. There have been calls by various trade bodies to legislate on this ground either in favour of specifying an operation in terms of pensions or to remove it entirely as to allow flexible working. There have been suggestions that it is a great relief that the automatic age retiring requirement is being allowed to stop

Alternative ways to work for solicitors

In the last few weeks, we have seen large numbers of redundancies across the board. Every day a new area will see solicitors registering for work. It seems to be sporadic that one day it could be Hull, another day Guildford, for as firms shed capacity and downsize in order to survive the fall in the market, there are rather are rather a lot of lawyers out of work. Some of them, in particular, conveyancing solicitors in the current climate have no prospect of sourcing new work, as there is nothing out there for them to consider. People simple do not have the need for conveyancers when the market is so poor. However, we are starting to see new possibilities opening in terms of ways for solicitors to work. A quick example of this, is the rise in commission only posts. Basically this means that you work for a firm for nothing, well, almost nothing. You are paid according to results, so if you find work and do it, the firm pay you commission. This means that they do not need to risk paying

Conveyancing in the current job market

We have written articles before on the state of the conveyancing market at present, but I thought a quick update on the current position may help (although the news is not particularly optimistic). In 2007 nearly every single week, we received a new conveyancing job, if not two, three or even five to ten on some occasions. At the start of this year, we had almost 700 conveyancing posts registered with us and pretty much all of them were live (some firms fill the posts and do not tell us or alternatively put them on hold). We have gone from 700 vacancies down to ten, if that. No-one is currently recruiting for conveyancing. The market is dead in the water, and it is not clear how long it will take before it picks up again. Almost every firm in the UK with more than two or three solicitors has made redundancies and while some of these are clearly attempts to get rid of dead wood or cut salaries, there is certainly an underlying trend going through that the markets are changing and conv

What do you do if you do not know the answer to a question in interview?

This is a very difficult piece of advice to give. Firstly there is no real correct answer, because if you do not know the answer to a question, either because you lack the requisite knowledge, the interviewer has asked the most ridiculous question or you are so nervous about the interview your brain has fried and are panicking. The first instance, if you do not the answer because you do not have the knowledge to answer the question, it is often best to take a little bit of time to think about whether you can come up with an answer that perhaps is somewhat vague or bluffed, and a good way of doing this is to ask for a glass of water. Have a sip of the water whilst you think about it. If nothing is forthcoming afterwards, you then have to move on to plan B. You can also consider simply saying, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that, and if it is a question that would require knowledge of some sort, you could perhaps say, if I was in practice or if I was in a work environment, I wou

New start up firm – reality or dreams?

Recently Ten Percent Legal Recruitment ( www.ten-percent.co.uk ) has been involved with two start up firms who have requested CVs for a range of candidates to set up law firms at a time when the market may not actually be ideal. The first of these was a non-qualified lawyer looking to invest her own money and a backer’s into a new firm with between two and six solicitors working in a range of law, including family law, corporate immigration and corporate commercial. We received paperwork through to show what the firm’s intentions were and how they intended to proceed, and also information about the sort of candidate they were after. We contacted candidates, advising them as per usual that this was a start up firm and could never make it into reality and got a good response, particularly in the current market with the number of vacancies being fairly reduced. After numerous meetings and interview, an offer was made to a family solicitor and fairly senior level, with good media exposur

If you had a million, how would you spend or invest it?

This question was asked by a City firm recently and I have heard of it before on numerous occasions. It requires you to think carefully from a financial side and also to have a good grasp of financial terminology and an understanding of more general concepts that are effecting the financial markets at the time of the interview. If somebody asked me that question, I would have an answer in my head because I think about where to invest £1 million if I ever had it all the time. I think my answer would be as follows: If I suddenly received £1 million, I would immediately put it all in a savings account whilst I considered what to do with the money. I would be looking for at least 4.5 percent and I would start consulting financial advisors as to where would be the best places to invest. My interest would be particularly in looking to invest or purchase companies to expand my businesses rather than simply to invest in products or savings vehicles. I would be particularly interested in inve

Interview techniques for employers

This article is a discussion of interview techniques for employers and in particular how to get the most out of your interviews and to avoid the common pitfalls. The first thing you must do when interviewing for a position is to decide actually what you are looking for and what is important to achieve out of employing that particular candidate. One thing we often find with employers is that they have very unreasonable expectations as to what exactly they are looking for in their employee. For example, a central London company like to recruit professionals from a City background with impeccable academics. This sounds great but the salary they are offering is less than a secretary would get for a post in a central London firm. This means that if they do find anyone with the background they are looking for, the chances are they will be completely unfit for any employment and probably in copious amounts of debt or alcoholics. There are other firms similarly who try to recruit very junior

Interview question - overcoming a hurdle

Interview question – Describe a situation where you have been involved in a team and had to overcome a hurdle to achieve your aims. This sort of question is probably every interviewees’ worst question. People who have been interviewed more than once or who have practiced interviews before attending any will have a stock answer ready and prepared for exactly this sort of question whether it be this sort of thing or something along the lines of describing a situation where you have had to achieve a result and overcome problems within the team etcetera. The first thing to say is that you need to think of something that is actually in a team. You must listen to the question carefully because if the question requires you to describe a situation where you have to overcome a hurdle, you also need a hurdle to overcome. One of the main let downs with this question amongst interviewees is that they don’t listen to the question and jus

BVC Student Applications.

We have had a spate of calls in recent weeks from BVC students and graduates phoning up to inform me that they are looking for temporary work and can we help them. I usually refer such telephone callers to our blog as I have written about this countless times on different issues for different graduates and law students but for some reasons BVC students and graduates seem to think that they are a cut above all the other students and graduates for some reason known only to themselves. I even had one yesterday who when I said we were unable to assist said, “You are a legal recruitment agency, aren’t you?” I find such attitudes amazing, when someone is phoning me to get a favour and yet phones up and speaks to me as if I should be grateful that I am talking to them. It also seems to be a common failing that amongst graduates and students to realise that such approach just does not work in the legal profession and that firms and chambers do not look for aggression, but rather for someone

MoneySupermarket.com enter the legal market

"In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools." Doris Lessing, 1919. It has been reported today that MoneySupermarket.com are going to enter the legal market with comparison prices for conveyancing, personal injury and wills & probate. The Law Society Gazette wheeled in the usual experts to profess the end of the solicitors profession as we see it, and to warn of the need to get on board or wilter away. In fact, it serves as an opportunity to increase your business. If you go onto moneysupermarket.com and do a search in any of the categories for a service, you will usually not find companies like Tescos or the Coop as producing the cheapest. If you shop at Tescos and compare their prices to a much smaller enterprise for groceries for example, Tescos is usually not very cheap. From personal experience, our local organic store is actually cheaper than Tescos on the vast majority of vegetables and fruit. The same will

Disabled students and the legal profession

We received an email from a disabled student yesterday asking what to do about revealing her disability to potential law firms. She explained that she was concerned that people would consider the practical and not want to employ her or interview her as it would be too costly for the law firm. She wondered whether it was appropriate to tell firms that she had a disability and to explain what it was from the date she first made contact. My advice would be to consider each firm carefully. If you are applying to a large London practice or regional commercial firm, you would probably find they would actively encourage you to apply formally as most are very well equipped to cover access in wheelchairs. I have been in quite a few of the London firms and regional firms. I have to say that most have lifts and disabled access. There are also quite a lot of disabled lawyers. I think for example of a barrister who was in a wheelchair and regularly was in court dealing with cases with no problems a

How to handle negotiations for job offers

In the current market, job offers are issued in a somewhat nervous manner at times. Recently we have experienced a firm getting very nervous about negotiation and withdrawing completely from a job offer. A solicitor was offered a post in a small to medium firm in the south east. At three years qualified, the salary was very good and was in line with figures you would expect to see in a good firm across the UK. The candidate accepted the offer immediately and a contract was sent out. Upon receipt of the contract, the candidate decided that there were points in it that needed to be negotiated and discussed further, so they got back in touch with the firm with a list of requests. The firm considered these and within about two hours had withdrawn the offer. So what had the candidate done wrong? Firstly, in the current market, firms are very nervous about everything. Whether this is recruitment or purchase of new equipment or just business in general, they are terrified that something is

Equal opportunities and recruitment agencies

Earlier in the summer Eversheds published a report or made a press statement to say that recruitment agents ought to be forced to promote diversity and equal opportunities and that the blame for failing to do so in law firms lay firmly at the doors of recruitment consultants. (If I have misrepresented Eversheds in any way with this, please accept my apologies and Eversheds, feel free to write to me). I agree partly with Eversheds in this matter. There are very few recruitment agencies, including ourselves who measure equal opportunities and diversity when candidates register with agents on their websites or presumably by sending a CV by post. In fact, the call from Eversheds has made me think twice about it and Ten Percent will shortly be adding a selection of equal opportunities questions at the bottom of every registration form so that we are able to quantify sex, ethnic origin and possibly age as well. I have considered it before, but decided against it on the basis that some ca