Ten Percent Legal Recruitment


Conveyancing Recruitment since 2000

Current Market Status – Expanding

Residential Conveyancing jobs have been the number one area of law where Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment have successfully assisted law firms, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers for over 15 years.

When we first set up Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment, back in April 2000, over 50% of our vacancies were from solicitors firms looking to take on extra conveyancing staff.

Since then, we have watched a cycle of recruitment follow. Mainly upwards, but with major blips.

Firstly, when the invasion of Iraq occurred in 2003, we watched as solicitors firms began to cancel their job vacancy postings.

Secondly we watched as the property market boomed and boomed some more, because apart from the Gulf War and the occasional football World Cup , the demand for conveyancing staff did not diminish for 8 years.

From 2000 to 2008 conveyancing vacancies increased from being 50% of our vacancies to about 80% of our vacancies. We thought it would never end. Extra staff were employed, we invested in IT systems to handle the workload, purchased websites (www.conveyancing-jobs.co.uk is one of ours) and started to plan our retirement.

Alas, by about May 2008 we started to notice that our recruitment consultants were not placing candidates. At first we thought the consultants were doing something wrong. Did they have the wrong text in advertisements? Were they failing to put the work in?

We did not realise that the market had dropped. Even with Lehman Brothers and all the other dodgy banks collapsing it failed to register in our minds that the property market had collapsed at the same time as the financial market.

Suddenly nobody wanted conveyancing staff.

We got angry telephone calls from candidates to ask why we couldn’t find work for them. What were we doing? Did we not care? Why were we advertising jobs that didn’t exist?

Candidates started to get in touch with horror stories of mass redundancies, most of which were not picked up by the legal or national press.

Firms like Crust Lane Davis, a rapidly expanding volume conveyancer, collapsed. One of their partners went to prison. Mortgage practices which appeared to be fairly accepted and allegedly commonplace were suddenly becoming ‘fraud’. Mortgages ceased to exist. Nobody wanted the risk anymore.

An entrepreneur in North Wales managed to persuade the local banks to stump up just short of £1 million to buy residential property. When he defaulted and the banks went to repossess the properties, they discovered that there was little value left. The properties had all been purchased less than 12 months beforehand but already the sale prices had plummeted.

Between 2008 and 2011 we hardly saw any conveyancing posts. Conveyancing accounted for less than 2% of our turnover – the remainder being made up with our other areas of business – accountancy, legal cashiers, litigation solicitors, locums and specialist career coaching.

Conveyancing candidates registered with us by the bucket load. We started to hear sad tales of middle-aged conveyancing lawyers who had been with the same firm for many years suddenly finding themselves on the scrap heap. Newly qualified solicitors never started in law. Other lawyers commenced alternative careers. We came across conveyancers working as shelf stackers in Tescos, delivery drivers, salesmen, charity workers, care assistants and stock market traders.

At the same time solicitors’ firms started to exploit the situation by demanding that conveyancing staff took a percentage cut of the work they did instead of a salary, or worked only if they had their own ‘following’ of developer clients. Of course this rarely generated enough work to survive on or pay the mortgage.

These really were the dark ages in the conveyancing world!

However, as often happens, the trough of 2008 turned into the expanding market which commenced in about 2011. From 2012 onwards the market has been busy. Conveyancing is booming yet again across the country, particularly in the South East (London has been very busy as well), and as a result we are now seeing conveyancing vacancies lasting many months before they are filled. In 2015 law firms found that there is a shortage of conveyancing lawyers to fill roles and some jobs have gone unfilled for a very long time indeed. 2016-2019 will probably stay busy but we do not anticipate the market expanding too much due to recent tax changes on buy to let landlords.

When will the next collapse occur? Will there be another collapse? Who knows…

Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor, qualified recruitment consultant and Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here – www.linkedin.com/in/jbfagan