in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report dated 7th June 2017

The demand for staff generally has stayed the same.

  • Permanent recruitment has decreased.
  • Locum recruitment has decreased. Hourly rates are starting to increase in line with seasonal variations.
  • Commercial and In House roles are picking up slightly.
  • Wills and Probate is quieter but locum and permanent candidates remain very much in demand.
  • Conveyancing is quieter – both locum and permanent. Permanent vacancies remain unfilled as severe shortage of candidates.
  • Litigation is quiet.
  • Family law is quiet.
  • London market is quieter again.


May has been a month very much affected by world events, half term and 2 bank holiday Mondays. Traditionally we have had a month of solid work as we enter the summer recruitment season (the busiest time of year for recruitment agencies is May to mid-July). Locum work got busy at the start of May but we have been quiet for the past few weeks. Permanent posts have been steadily trickling in, but we have ended the month in a fairly quiet phase. Both locum and permanent vacancies have decreased in number over the month, although we have had a significant number of assignments booked up and vacancies filled.

Locum hourly rates have picked up a bit but there is considerable regional variation. Plenty of locums available for Greater London but a shortage in other areas of the UK. It remains the case that availability rather than price one of the key factors for a lot of new assignments.

The IHS Markit Report on Jobs for May has shown the following key points:
* Growth in both permanent placements and temp billings accelerates
* Demand for staff reaches 21-month peak
* Sharpest drop in permanent candidate numbers since August 2015

Commenting on the latest survey results, Tom Hadley, REC Director of Policy says: “The challenges facing the next government are stark. Demand for staff is the strongest in almost two years, but the number of people available to take those jobs has plummeted. Official data shows unemployment has dropped to the lowest level since 1975, and EU citizens are leaving the UK in droves. Employers seeking to fill vacancies are running out of options.”

This is obviously not the case in law – the legal job market is very dependent on UK qualified and trained staff – a lot of employers will not consider EU lawyers for roles because until they have experience in the England & Wales jurisdiction their skills are not particularly valued.

Out of the 85 new vacancies posted in May, 15 of them were in London and 37 were in Greater London and the South East. 8 were Wills & Probate roles, 23 were in conveyancing and 17 were company commercial, commercial litigation and commercial property roles.

A summary of work we did in May is below (April figures in brackets).

May 2017 – Summary:

* Permanent vacancies down
* Locum assignments down
* London vacancies: 144 (150)
* South East: 341 (340)
* South West: 85 (85)
* Midlands: 48 (49)
* North West: 81 (82)
* North East: 42 (42)
* Wales: 18 (16)

Market outlook – vacancies have decreased slightly, although we were unseasonably busy in April. This goes against the usual recruitment cycle. It is not clear how things will play out in June.


Current live vacancies: 760 (766)
New permanent vacancies added in May: 43 (54)
New locum vacancies added in May: 42 (57)
New candidates registering: 64 (94)
Average ‘Job Strength Factor’ for new vacancies: 4 (Very Good)

TP Legal Recruitment publishes the number of new vacancies, new candidates and indicate the increase or decrease from the previous month. We aim to assist the legal profession by showing the market from our perspective. Our clients tend to be high street law firms and smaller sized commercial practices.
The average job strength gives a good indication of the market because:
1. A poor Job Strength on vacancies indicates a struggling market. When trade is bad, employers seek options for increasing turnover which involve sourcing candidates with their own following and no salary.
2. A strong Job Strength on vacancies indicates a buoyant market, particularly if it is in connection with an increase in numbers of new vacancies.
Vacancies are each graded 1-5, with 5 being a very strong vacancy and 1 being a very weak vacancy.


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