April 2024 Legal Job Market Report
in Legal Job Market Reports

April 2024 Legal Job Market Report

Here is our summary of the current state of the UK legal job market for April 2024. Monthly update from Ten Percent Legal Recruitment, Interim Lawyers and Jonathan Fagan Business Brokers, providing an outlook on the locum and permanent legal job market, as well as the world of law firm mergers & acquisitions.

Locum Recruitment – Steady

Locum work is starting to show small increases after quite a dramatic decline over the last 12 months. Most of the decline is due to the reduced demand for conveyancing cover. A quick look at the most recently posted roles shows fields of law include commercial litigation, employment, family, civil litigation, legal cashiers, L&T, corporate immigration, wills & probate, corporate commercial & commercial contract roles, but very little property work in the last month. We are still seeing increased numbers of candidates registering with us for consultancy work on an ongoing basis, although very few of these fit within the criteria for the new market in consultants servicing their own work (very hard to source). Number one difficulty for recruiting locums remains the gap between locum expectations of remote working, and client expectations for office-based work. This is yet to be resolved, although increasing numbers of locums are now available for office work as market conditions get tougher.

Locum assignment updates here: https://www.interimlawyers.co.uk/category/locum-solicitor-updates/

Permanent Recruitment – Busy

Permanent jobs posted in March are down 25% on the previous year, although candidates are probably more likely to move than they were this time last year. We still have a wide range of vacancies coming in for fields of law – corporate commercial, in house, private client, commercial property, conveyancing and family plus others. Our permanent recruiter team remain busy.

Permanent vacancies can be viewed here: https://ten-percent.co.uk/vacancies/

New Candidate Registrations – 100% increase

Candidate registrations are a very good indicator for market conditions. Increasing numbers of candidates register with us when the market is going down, and drop when the market is on the up. Numbers remain up by about 100% compared with the previous year. New locums have remained extremely high in number.

Law Firms for Sale – Busy

Busy as ever – deals are going through, good buyers are currently active and there is a demand for law firms sold as a shell, particularly limited companies (sole practitioners not as interesting to buyers). Extremely good time to be listing for sale as the market usually stays busy up until August. ABS firms in particular demand – there seem to be a number of investors with new pipelines of work to put through.

Full details of firms currently for sale on our website – list updated daily. For valuations, exit planning or a confidential discussion about a potential sale or acquisition generally please ring 01824 780937 and speak to Jonathan Fagan or email jf@jonathanfagan.co.uk

Ten Percent Group statistics for March 2024 (2023 figures in brackets)

New locum roles added – 18 (22)
New permanent roles added – 25 (34)
New candidates added – 71 (35)

KPMG & REC Report on Jobs UK – March 2024

Further decline in recruitment activity signalled
Slower increases in starting pay recorded
Fastest rise in candidate availability for four months

Commentary from Jon Holt, CEO of KPMG UK
“Persistent economic uncertainty has led to many business leaders delaying major investment decisions and relying on savings for growth during the first quarter of the year. But they are optimistic about the outlook improving. And while March’s survey data indicates ongoing weak demand in the labour market with a sharp rise in candidate availability, relatively low levels of UK unemployment together with falling inflation could pave the way for economic recovery.”

Commentary from Neil Carberry REC CEO
“Economic growth has been sidelined for too long and must be at the heart of this year’s
General Election campaign. Today’s data shows the economy in a holding pattern waiting for inflation and interest rates to ease, so that firms can get to investing. The decline in permanent placements has been steady for some months now, with temporary recruitment still robust, if falling back from the record highs of 2022/3. Employers appear to be leaning on temporary work while they are uncertain about the path of the economy. The data here should support a decision by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to loosen its grip on growth in
the near-term future. Pay growth has slowed significantly, and is now below the survey’s
long-term average for new permanent roles.”

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 www.ten-percent.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk