Legal Job Market Report December 2019
in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report December 2019

Legal Job Market Report

Legal Recruitment – busy market

Each month we run a comparison between the last calendar month and the same time period in 2018 to see if there has been any noticeable difference. In October we saw a 32% increase in the number of new permanent vacancies and a 145% increase in the number of locum assignments.

So how was November 2019 compared to November 2018? We saw a 40% decrease in the number of permanent vacancies registered with us and a 28% decrease in the number of locum vacancies. Work dropped off in the second week of November, slightly earlier than previous years, but we think this is mainly due to the General Election.

Locum work has completely dropped off now that we are almost up to Christmas as most clients and firms have better things to do than buy and sell houses or have their wills drafted. As the predominant area for locums is conveyancing this tends to be a very quiet time of year for all. Wills & probate has been particularly quiet for the whole of 2019 and we wonder if there has either been a significant cornering of market share by one of the new internet disrupters or firms have simply managed to take on sufficient permanent staff in order to get the work completed generally. A large shortfall in private client lawyers occurred just around the time of the 2008-2010 recession – firms had reduced headcount in private client departments some years prior to this and there has seemed to be a shortfall ever since. On the commercial side we have seen an increase in the use of our Interim Lawyers platform by in house departments large and small. In House departments seem to be prevaricating on permanent recruitment decisions and this has remained the same throughout 2019. Maternity cover roles become more relevant and always seem to be our busiest area until Christmas.


General Statistics for November 2019 (comparison is with November 2018)
Current live vacancies: 1073
New permanent vacancies added: 19 (32)
New locum vacancies added: 10 (14)
New candidates registering: 72 (50)

November 2019 – Live Jobs (comparison with October 2019 in brackets):
London vacancies: 187 (190)
South East: 453 (459)
South West: 99 (99)
Midlands: 79 (81)
North West: 114 (113)
North East: 78 (78)
Wales: 49 (49)

We have 34 law firms for sale at the moment with a couple more coming to market this month – for details of current law firms for sale please click here to view our list.

Candidate Database Statistics – November 2019
London Candidates: 3057
Midlands Candidates: 1191
North East Candidates: 850
North West Candidates: 986
South East England Candidates: 4825
South West England Candidates: 512
Northern Ireland: 21
Scotland: 63
Wales: 390

Hourly Rates of Pay for Locum Solicitors and Legal Executives

Christmas is coming and locum rates have dropped..

December 2019 Locum Solicitor Rates

Residential Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-5 years PQE, £28-33 per hour (no variation for central London).
Conveyancing Locum Solicitors & ILEX – 5-35 years PQE, handling all levels of conveyancing including managing a department – £30-37 per hour, including central London.
Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE – £32-55 per hour – average is £40-44 per hour.
Wills & Probate Solicitors and Legal Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £35-50 per hour, going up to £55 per hour. Average currently around £45.
Family Solicitors – 2-40 years PQE – £30-34 per hour+. Care work – usually around £35-40 per hour (very rare).
Civil Litigation Solicitors and ILEX– 1-35 years PQE. £28-35 per hour. These rates cover mainstream litigation.
Commercial Litigation Solicitors – 3+ years PQE – £35-75 per hour.
Company Commercial & General Commercial Solicitors – 3+ years PQE – £35-85 per hour.
Employment Solicitors – 3+ years PQE – £28-45 per hour.
Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence – 3+ years PQE – £25-£40 per hour.
In House Legal Department Rates: 0-3 years PQE – £25-40 per hour, 3+ years PQE – £40-90 per hour (very wide range due to the nature of in house work).

Local authority rates: see article below with feedback from a local authority locum.

NB all rates exclude agency fees. The rates are for self-employed locums billing firms directly on a weekly basis.

KPMG & REC Report on Jobs

The KPMG and REC UK Report on Jobs is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies (including the Ten Percent Group).

Key Findings
Solid drop in permanent staff appointments, temp billings rise only slightly
Vacancy growth eases to 93-month low
Pay continues to rise as candidate availability falls again

Comment from KPMG:
“Businesses are still waiting to hear that starting gun, and until there is some certainty
around Brexit and now the election, employers continue to stall on creating vacancies and
making permanent hires. It’s not just businesses that are being cautious, however, and over October we’ve seen jobseekers become increasingly nervous about making a career change. The lucky few that do find jobs are continuing to demand higher pay as reflected in the rise in starting salaries and temp pay. The IT and computing sector threw caution to the wind last month as the best performer in vacancy growth. Meanwhile, the medical sector is not far behind, and we also saw a sharp increase in the demand for temp staff in this sector.”

Comment from the REC:
“The labour market is strong but permanent placements have now dropped for eight months in a row, and vacancies growth has fallen to its lowest level since January 2012. One bright spark is the temporary labour market, which continues to provide flexible work to people and businesses that need it during troubled times. Ending political uncertainty and getting companies hiring again is vital – but we must also look to the long term future of work. “

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