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Showing posts from June, 2008

Adding extra value to job applications

Recently we have achieved almost the impossible and potentially placed a conveyancing solicitor in London. The post is for someone to build up a department within an expanding firm and the candidate has been very grateful for the opportunity, having been made redundant by his last firm who he was with for some years. I received an email from the candidate a few days ago which gave me food for thought and perhaps other candidates too as this candidate was clearly intent on adding extra value to his position. He emailed to say that before he joined he would be going into the firm to meet all the staff and get acquainted with their IT systems. He would also look at establishing his systems for dealing with the conveyancing and spend some time assessing how to achieve this. Not only this, but he would also go to brokers and estate agents in the local area and introduce himself and tell them that he was opening a new department at the firm. He would also start to put together his strategy f

Conveyancing jobs in the North East disappearing

Until very recently it has been a rare occurrence to get a conveyancing candidate any posts in the north east of England. When we do get them, we usually get lots of requests from firms and register a whole raft of new vacancies. In the last week, I estimate that we have had over six good quality conveyancing and commercial property candidates register in the north east as well as wills and probates and other fields on top of this. It appears that the wave of redundancies that have been going round the UK have finally reached the north east and some of the larger and bucket shop type organisations have started to lay off staff. The quality of the candidates being laid off is very interesting. A couple appear to have spent a good number of years with the firms they have been laid off from. Their billing levels are quite frankly phenomenal. Salary levels on the other hand are pretty appalling bearing in mind the billing levels and what is even more surprising is that the firms are lettin

New universities and the legal profession

A question was recently asked in a Magic Circle firm of someone who had been to a new university (former polytechnic) as to whether they were ashamed of their degree (and by inference the university). The question was a very interesting one, not only for the position it put the interviewee in and the challenge that the question faced from that angle, but also because of the perception of new universities in the legal profession. Sometimes people forget that many years ago the only students who were allowed to study law were those who gained very good A-level grades of As and Bs and went to a red brick university. Polytechnics on the whole were offering courses, but they were not geared towards people qualifying as solicitors but rather being academics or a mix of work and were not usually LLB degrees. I could be wrong on this and I apologise profusely to the former polytechnics if this was not the case, but there does seem to have been a complete change in the courses of recent times.

Interview question – are you ashamed of your 'new university' degree?

Believe it or not this question was asked in a recent Magic Circle firm in London of a student with a first class degree from a new university as opposed to a red brick university. It was in the context of a question about the status of the university and the achievement of gaining a first class degree. The interviewee admitted being very surprised at the question and felt that she may have come across as defensive when she heard it. One of the things that came out of lecturing to students on an LPC course about CVs and interviews was to be prepared for questions like this, as they are regularly thrown into interviews. In fact, I am glad that I have heard about this because I often get queries from students and clients who have used our career coaching service as to why some of the questioning I undertake is quite hostile. There is really no way to prepare yourself for a question like this without being asked critical questions by someone else and practice answering in an non-defensive

Career Coaching for Lawyers, Law Students and Graduates.

Ten Percent Legal Recruitment has been coaching solicitors, barristers, legal executives, overseas lawyers, law students and graduates with career changes, interview practice, careers advice, career plans and strategies since 2000. Over that time, we have seen a number of the people we have assisted find training contracts and qualify as solicitors and also obtain pupillage and become barristers. The service is suitable for anyone who is either contemplating a legal career, currently working in the legal profession at all levels or studying to become a lawyer in the future. The vast majority of people have a specific issue that they want addressing and subsequently have a whole raft of matters to consider that follow on from that. A quick example would be the graduate who had attended five or six training contract interviews but had not got any offers. The issue was for the consultant to determine why those interviews were not resulting in offers. It became quite apparent after about 2

Interview question – How many training contracts have you applied for?

This question is often asked of potential trainee solicitors to see how successful they have been in finding a training contract. It is a very difficult question to answer truthfully, because you can come across so badly with which ever answer you give. Looking at it from the interviewer’s perspective, I think at time the question is asked more to see how you deal with the question rather than what you actual answer is. For example, if you were to say I have applied for over 100 training contracts, this would mean from the interviewer’s perspective you have a scattergun approach and don’t really care which firm you get the training contract with, nor what field of law or what quality of practice you are aiming at. If you were to say, I have applied for five firms that I have carefully chosen from a very long list and you were one of them, the firm will probably not believe you and also think you are a bit lazy perhaps for not considering more applications to more firms. So what is the

ILEX route into the legal profession - via the back door?

I recently wrote an article for graduates with 3rd class degrees. ILEX organisation contacted me to ask why I had not mentioned the legal executive route into the legal profession for graduates with 3rd class degrees. As a result I thought it might help if I wrote an article on the route explaining perhaps somewhat anecdotally the perception of legal executives within the profession. I must say that my opinion remains the same for students with 3rd class degrees – i.e. that although it is not impossible to find a training contract and go down the legal practice course route, most students with a 3rd class degree should think twice before paying for the legal practice course as vacancies are far and few between where someone with that level of degree would be considered for a job, simply because of the competition, lack of training contract places. However, ILEX are quite right in that the legal executive route is an alternative option for anyone who decides they do not wish to do the l

Interview question – where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

We recently had a set of written responses to some of our 100 interview questions given to us by one of our candidates, who had used it to enhance her CV. We thought this was a good idea as it meant that firms could see what their responses were going to be to the interview questions before she went to the interview, and one of the answers was particularly interesting and amusing. The question was, where do you see yourself in five years time, and this is a standard question asked quite regularly by firms up and down the UK. She answered, on a beach, sat in a bar being spoon fed olives by a waiter in a g-string. Underneath this she had written, but seriously… etcetera. This made all the consultants laugh, but brings me to a point that we often discuss as consultants is, how much humour should you use in a job application, when is it appropriate and when should you avoid it. If somebody said this to me in an interview, I would probably be relatively amused, it is a funny thing, quite a

Should I take the ILEX route or the training contract route in order to qualify as a solicitor?

This question was asked yesterday on our careers line. The student wanted to know whether do the LPC (Legal Practice Course) route or go down the ILEX (Institute of Legal Executives) route. There are disadvantages and advantages to both of these routes into the legal profession. The main advantage of doing the legal practice course is that if you are lucky enough to get a training contract, you will find that you can train as a solicitor within three years. This means that you only work for peanuts for two years as a trainee solicitor before qualifying and receiving what could be argued as a reasonable salary. The ILEX route means that you have to work in the region of about five years for a somewhat meagre salary and then do the legal practice course in order to qualify and even then, you may need further experience before the Law Society will allow you to be admitted. Therefore, if you wish to qualify quickly then the LPC and training contract route is for you. The main disadvantage

You are a job agency, aren’t you?

“Hello. Are you a job agency?” “Yes, that’s right.” “Well, I’m looking for a legal job and you’re a job agency, so I need you to help me.” “Okay. What is it that you’re looking for?” “A job in the legal industry.” I’m sure I’m going on with this conversation, it is very boring. However, suffice to say, this conversation carried on for a further minute before it transpired that this was a particularly cantankerous LPC graduate who presumably had been watching too much LA Law or This Life and the way to get into the legal industry was to march your way in and be rude to everyone you speak to. There is almost an assumption amongst people from other industries coming into the profession that there are jobs aplenty, the idea of the purpose of legal job agencies is to simply find anyone who wants one a job. You’ll see in our blog and on our website ( ) numerous articles and comments to the effect that our legal recruitment agency is simply unable to assist with any trai

Recruitment numbers up for first quarter of 2008

There was a report online on 16/05/08 that the number of jobs increased in the first quarter of 2008, it shows no signs of reducing in the second quarter. The survey was done by a marketing agency, who also compared this against the amount of business being undertaken in the marketing industry, discovered that the spend on marketing was also up in the same time, particularly with advertising for jobs and recruitment agencies. The prediction of the report was that marketing online would increase by 25% over the next four years, marketing in hard copy and newspapers would decrease in the same time by about ten to 15 percent. So what does this show us about the economy? Well, at the same time, there was an article in The Observer to say that parts of London had seen house price increases this year of up to 20%, and in other areas of up to ten to 15%. I have also read that whilst decreases in values have occurred in flats and undesirable houses and locations, the remainder of the market st

Interview question – what do you see as the main challenges facing us with climate change?

It has become increasingly fashionable in interviews to ask a question based on current political and economic issues and to see how well an interviewee handles them. Something like climate change is a massive area and usually the interviewee will be thinking in their mind, “Oh my goodness, what an earth am I going to say”. This is where preparation for interviews comes in very handy. On climate change, you may hold very strong opinions which could include dismissing the theory of climate change as exactly that, something with no evidence. It could also be that you are a passionate environmentalist and regularly activating with Greenpeace at weekends, blocking oil pipes, etcetera. It may also be that you hold no opinion at all on the matter, and simply do not ever think about it very much. Regardless of which camp you fall into, you must come up with a structured answer. Perhaps the best way to consider it would be to think about the positives and negatives and try and relate it as muc

Outsourcing transcription work

I was recently reading an article in The Guardian about outsourcing, and a lifestyle coach who stated that his opinion to try and outsource everything to someone else to do, whether this be a business or at home, and you will reap the rewards yourself in terms of time available and also cost in the long term. One possibility for law firms is to outsource any transcription work that is not required instantaneously. Ten Percent Legal Recruitment uses , a transcribing company, they specialise in analogue and digital transcription work. The way the service works is quite simple. You purchase an Olympus DSS recorder (I use the DS2300), dictate your letters, blog, articles or statements, plug your handheld recorder into your computer with a USB lead, and download your recordings. You then go into your file manager and click send to email. The recordings are sent to , who return them to you as soon as they are complete, which is usually wi

Investment in Northern Ireland – New legal opportunities?

For some years Ten Percent Legal Recruitment has dabbled with Northern Ireland and firms in the province, and occasionally picked up a vacancy there. In recent times, it has become apparent that with the peace that now reigns there, there are a lot of opportunities for the legal markets to expand quite dramatically. I recently read a report that there has been significant external investments into the region by government and private investment companies, and I have heard it said from local businessmen that there is a considerable amount of development work going on to raise the standard of living and the infrastructure of business to new levels. This has to mean that there are a lot of opportunities starting to open up for law firms in the region, and hence new opportunities for solicitors in terms of recruitment. Ten Percent Legal Recruitment had links with Belfast firms for some years, as well as others in the more rural areas. I hope that with the new development, more firms will s

General Practitioners - a dilemna

General practice dilemma. I took a call yesterday from a solicitor on the south coast who described himself as a general practitioner of whom there are very few left these days. He had a young family and wanted to maximise his earning potential, as his current firm were not paying him very much at all. In fact, I estimated that he was being underpaid by a minimum of £5000, and even then, that would be low for a three year P2E solicitor. His dilemma was that as a general practitioner, he had covered a whole wide variety of law and hence had no particular specialism in one area. This means of course when coming to look for an alternative job and with the increased specialism that has taken place in the legal market, he was left to decide what field of law to specialise in and wanted some advice on it. He was dealing with a mixed case load of contentious and non-contentious work. Fortunately the non-contentious work was wills and probates and not conveyancing, as the market for conveyanci