Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Friday, January 11, 2008

Candidate Newsletter - January 2008

Welcome to the January 08 Candidate newsletter from Ten-Percent.

1. Changes being made to our services
2. Advice on negotiating an annual pay review
3. Increasing your worth to your firm
4. Partnership prospects and how to consider them
5. Setting up your own law firm.
6. £10 gift Amazon voucher for your best/worst interview question

Changes to our Services
Ten-Percent Legal has undergone a revamp over the last few weeks which includes a new software provider for our back office systems. This will make our job notification service more accurate for you. We will shortly be launching a specialist locum service which will be available online 24-7, and also the Chancery Lane Legal Jobs Site, which will result in more and better opportunities coming our way each month. Our company has expanded rapidly in the last 12 months, and we now have 5 consultants covering the UK plus back office support working away at sourcing jobs and leads. We will be launching a dedicated overseas section soon to cover offshore work, something we have done in the past, and also plan to take on headhunting work. We are somewhat unique however, as two of our directors take 80% of all calls into the company throughout the working day, which means that for most of the time you are speaking to experienced and qualified recruiters (and lawyers).

Negotiating a Pay Review
A pay review is the only time in the year most fee earners get to discuss their earning and performance with their employers, and for most, it is a wasted opportunity. Have a read of our guide online to getting the most out of your pay rise. It is particularly important to make sure you negotiate hard to get where you want to be over a period of time. eg; if you want to achieve a certain level of pay, and you are generating the income to do this, you must ensure that your boss actively considers your value to the firm.. I have taken a call today from a lawyer comfortably earning 4 x their salary each year, but with a boss who has offered no incentives, no indication of partnership or promotion, and who seems to fail to understand the motivation most lawyers require to get out of bed in the morning. I remain convinced that there are employers out there who think that their employees work at a firm out of love for their bosses..

Increasing your worth to a firm
Have you ever worked for a firm, and wondered what a member of staff does all day? I can remember many years ago pondering this very question, as I couldnt work out why it took a member of the support staff all day to do what she was working on. It was only as I got older that I realised a reality of work - people create routines and work that only they can do within a firm, and then spin it out and turn it into an actual part of their job. It could be something as simple as being the only person in the firm who can make a particular computer work when something goes wrong, or the only person able to deal with a particular client.

If you create something unique about yourself within an organisation, you will find that your role there is suddenly much more secure.

Another option is to identify a potential source of work, and volunteer to tap into it. A candidate recently indicated that they had found an online source for work to go to the firm, and started an introduction arrangement with a company that resulted in income for the practice (via a particular lawyer) that they would not have otherwise have had.

I also know of conveyancing executives and solicitors who create such a strong link with a particular developer that the work is only sent via that lawyer, and no-one else. As a result, the lawyer in question gets to keep the client if they ever move firms, and the firm have to be nice to the lawyer as a direct result!

Partnership Prospects and how to consider them
Many years ago, when I did work experience in Wakefield, a wise old solicitor gave me some advice about partnership that has stuck in place ever since. If you are offered a post as a partner, the first thing you need to do is to look past the offer, and immediately ask to see the accounts.

He recounted being offered a partnership with a very well established firm and an excellent reputation, only to discover that he would be taking over a huge amount of liabilities that the risk involved outweighed the status he would have received as a partner... He had actually paid for an accountant to review the accounts and go through them with him, and he said this was the best thing he had ever done.

Setting up your own law firm
Not as hard as you would think, and the Law Society publish a handbook on doing exactly this!

Tips for new businesses (Law firms in particular)
Good location for your offices if going on the high street, consider working from home if niche.
Make sure you do not take on too many expenses from the start - I was advised years ago when starting my company to work from home for as long as I could to save on the rent and rates.
Avoid all offers of help from consultants (apart from ourselves of course!) for at least the first 12 months, and do everything yourself as this helps you know in future what each job in the firm entails...
Make yourself work evenings and weekends for at least the first 6 months.
Don't expect to make any money for 6 months.
When you take your first cheque, take a copy and have it framed.

We are going to publish a series of articles very soon on setting up a new law firm. Keep your eyes peeled!

£10 Amazon voucher for your best or worst interview question
Send us your best or worst interview question - either one you have been asked or have asked an interviewee, and if we publish it in our newsletter we will send you a £10 Amazon gift voucher as a thank you. Email your question to me at

If you would like further advice or guidance on anything career related, feel free to get in touch. We can obviously also assist with job searches and relocations, and you can contact us by calling 0845 644 3923 or by emailing me personally - and I'll put you in touch with the consultant for your area.

Jonathan Fagan - MD, Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. Limited
2nd Floor
145-157 St John Street

Tel: 0207 127 4343 E-mail:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Lawyers dressing for interview

What to wear for an interview.

I have conducted career coaching sessions for a number of years for law students and lawyers, and recently had someone come to see me who wanted to know what they needed to wear for a legal job interview. It almost seemed like the primary reason she had travelled over 200 miles to see me, and I am not sure why this had become such  an issue for her.

For interviews, the primary thing is that you look smart, and the dress you wear fits into the office environment you are going for an interview to work in. Eg; traditionally local authority legal departments and legal services commission funded firms do not tend to dress as smartly as magic circle law firms such as Clifford chance. There is a good reason for this – if you are constantly going into police cells for example, and meeting someone who probably hasn’t washed for 3 days, you do not want to be wearing your new suit recently handmade in London by that bloke who advertises in the back of the glossies!

It is mostly common sense. Make sure whatever you are wearing is neat, washed, ironed, and with very plain colours rather than anything that looks like it came out of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. Dark colours probably fit into the sober legal environment better than very light colours, which are more in keeping with weekend wear. I have been asked whether women should wear long or short skirts, and whether trousers are OK or not for women.

I really don’t think it matters – it just has to be smart. You don’t need to worry about whether you are dressed in an almost uniform-like outfit. Think about it from the interviewers perspective – they want to see someone who is well dressed and clean (not smelly) and that their clothes do not stand out to such an extent that you remember or comment on it. If you can manage this, you have passed that particular aspect of the interview.

Recently we had feedback from a law firm who had interviewed quite a senior solicitor, which went “This candidate was not suitable. Firstly he was wearing a cardigan, and looked like he had come off the streets. Secondly, he smelt like he had come off the streets. Thirdly, when asked what his weak points were, he said he probably wasn’t a very good lawyer. We will not progressing his application further…”

Jonathan Fagan MREC Cert RP LLM Solicitor (non-practising) - Managing Director of Limited - online legal recruitment consultants
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