in Changing Jobs, Interviews, Newly Qualified Solicitors, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

An interview with Jonathan Fagan, Solicitor, Legal Recruitment Consultant and Career Coach

Q          Why do you offer career coaching to lawyers and law students?

Good question!  Together with 3 other lawyers I set up Ten Percent Legal Recruitment back in April 2000. Within a few months we were being bombarded with CVs from law students and graduates desperate for training contracts and work experience.  We obviously could not do anything for these people because recruitment in the legal profession through agencies is restricted to qualified staff on the whole, but the standard of CVs and covering emails and letters was absolutely dire.  On further investigation we discovered that a lot of people seemed to be following the same sorts of templates, completely unsuited to law.  Within 12 months we’d realised that not only were law students and graduates sending off defective CVs but so were solicitors and legal executives.  Vital things were missed off a whole range of different CVs and there seemed to be a real lack of any guidance in the marketplace for the correct structure for CVs and a coherent career plan.

I started off speaking to a few solicitors on a free of charge basis before discovering that I had knowledge and skills that could really help both solicitors and law graduates/students find work and transform their career prospects.  This led us to develop a career coaching service which has been running for over 10 years.

Q          What do you get out of it?

Not very much, except that we have managed to help someone with their career and given advice that they probably could not have got from any other source.  The price we charge just about covers our expenses of time, but does not lead to any huge profit.  The service was never set up to make the Board of Directors at Ten Percent extremely wealthy!

Q          What makes you different to other services?

We are probably the only service to offer a practical response to career coaching.  There are plenty of other career coaching services on a general basis which are geared more towards a counselling role where particular aspects of your personal life are examined and you are assisted rather than advised.  Our career coaching programme is specific advice tailored to your own experience and situation

Q          Why do you charge one fee and not charge per piece of work?

We do this simply to make it easier for clients to pay for the service.  Once you have paid your one-off fee you have access to me for as long as you want. So if you need a bit of careers advice in 6 or 7 years’ time, we will provide it at no cost. Similarly you may want an intense period of time checking application forms and your CV as you start your career but then nothing for a good number of years. All the work is covered by the one-off fee.

Q          What type of clients use career coaching?

There is not really one particular type of client as we have coached a whole range of different clients over the years ranging from very senior barristers down to law students and non-law graduates looking to break into the legal profession. On the whole our clients tend to be solicitors stuck in a rut somewhere between 3 and 7 years PQE, newly qualified solicitors looking to plan out their career and law students/paralegals/graduates who have been unsuccessful so far in finding a training contract or pupillage. Each type of client has a very different need, which is why we are unable to be particularly specific in our description of our career coaching. Some people require lots of interview practice, whereas others need career planning and a discussion on where they take their career over the next few years to achieve a long term aim.

Q          Do you provide interview training as a separate service?

Yes, although the cost of undertaking interview training on its own is the same as our career coaching, so it is often worth ordering the career coaching pack and using the face to face session to do interview training and get careers support for life included as part of the package. Interview training is something we do on a regular basis and have done for many years. I have spent a good number of years training LPC students in interview techniques at a university in Yorkshire and enjoyed providing this particular aspect of the service.

Q          What are your qualifications to provide a career coaching service?

A variety of different things. Firstly I have been a law student, graduate, paralegal, trainee solicitor and solicitor in the profession and interviewed at a whole range of different law firms and organisations over the years I worked in law.  Secondly I have worked as a recruitment consultant for the past 10 years, providing services to different sized law firms up and down the country as well as in-house legal departments.  I have interviewed solicitors, legal executives and potential trainee solicitors for jobs on behalf of law firms and in-house legal departments and look at well over 50 CVs each day of the week, sometimes up to 150. I know what makes a good CV, and I know how people can improve their careers as a result. I am a qualified recruitment consultant, by virtue of the Certificate of Recruitment Practice, and I am a member of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals. I am also a member of the Association for Coaching. I have lectured on CV preparation and interview techniques at a University in Yorkshire for over 5 years and write the legal recruitment blog online, which has won awards in the past.

For details about our Career Coaching Services, please visit

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