in Legal Job Market Reports

4th June 2013 Legal Job Market Report

Legal Job Market Report

(part of the June 2013 Legal Recruitment News by Ten-Percent Legal – for the full online journal).

The job market in April and May has been busy. Very busy indeed. It appears that the property market is back on the move again, or at least a good number of conveyancing transactions are being undertaken. Whether this is a good solid sustained recovery or whether it is because sellers are being more realistic with their prices in some parts of the UK remains to be seen.

This is having a knock-on effect for legal recruitment. In quite a few areas law firms are starting to think about how to cope with the increase in work and looking at taking on additional staff. Locum and contract bookings are up this year – partly because more firms are recruiting consultants on an ongoing basis for 1,2 or 3 days per week to cover the increased amount of work.

So far this year (April 2013 onwards) we have seen more genuine permanent salaried property and private client jobs than we did in the whole of 2010.

There have been a lot fewer firms registering commission only posts with us as well or recruitment for solicitors with following. I sense a growing realisation amongst law firms that the majority of lawyers want to work for a salary, and in an expanding market paying commission or finding anyone with a following prepared to move is extremely hard.

Commercial posts seem to be continuing on an unsteady line – some times we hear of the medium to large firms recruiting at all levels, and the next we hear of redundancies. Furthermore I am aware of a good number of commercial vacancies falling into the ‘fishing expedition’ area of recruitment – ie the firms are checking to see who is out there or the HR departments are busy justifying their existence! I am aware of this through career coaching in recent weeks and lawyers expressing their frustration at applying for vacancies only to be told that they are ‘on hold’.

In terms of litigation work, the market is fairly quiet. We see occasional new vacancies coming in for civil litigation and family work (privately funded), but very rarely do we see employment law posts or insolvency. Whether this is because they are now the domain of law firms with insurance policy products or Peninsula style work is another matter entirely.

One area that has definitely hit rock bottom is crime. I suspect no crime practitioner needs us to say this, but hardly any recruitment occurred in the last duty solicitor rota deadline week. This is unheard of – we usually get inundated with enquiries, whether or not firms go ahead and recruit. I suspect that this will continue until best value tendering comes into play. On that front, I should say that I fully expect just about every crime firm to put a tender in. Whether or not they do so in their own names or in some new start up to hide the fact it is them, I am convinced that the dog-eat-dog environment that senior partners of specialist crime firms operate in will stop any unified response to the whole affair. I really hope I am wrong in this assumption, although it is hard to see at the moment how anyone can possibly see a long term future in crime as a qualified and skilled professional lawyer. Even more interesting will be the fact that if Stobarts Legal move into the Legal Aid arena, their lawyers will inevitably be getting paid less than the truck drivers who work for Stobarts.

Overall outlook? I agree with the recent Reed job market report – we are back up to 2008 levels for permanent recruitment, although 2008 was still not a wonderful year compared with the 2005-2007 property and recruitment boom!

We now have over 80 law firm members in the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment £60 per month service (unlimited recruitment). It is likely we will close the scheme to new members when we get to 100 law firms and review the service before allowing any new applications. If you want further details on this option please visit our website.


We are now officially in the locum season. Assignments are now coming in regularly on an ongoing basis as firms recruit for 1-3 days per week (locums give you the flexibility to expand and contract as work ebbs and flows), covering for solicitors moving on and those more urgently needed to cover annual or sick leave. []( is our specialist site for locum and contract assignments.


Any questions regarding the above? Contact me via LinkedIn ([](, [Facebook](, Twitter (@tenpercentlegal) or old fashioned email –

Jonathan Fagan, June 4th 2013.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at