Legal Job Market Report January 2021
in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report January 2021

Here is our summary of the current state of the legal job market:

Locum Recruitment – Busy
Normally over the Christmas break we put our feet up, deal with a few emergency requests here and there in January and wait for the market to pick up when we return from skiing in February half term. This year has been completely different. In December, for the first time in many years, we were unable to fulfil conveyancing locum roles which were office based. Eight emergency cover roles in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, London due to staff sickness or increased workload went unfilled in December. Locums were understandably reluctant to travel to work – accommodation issues for the professional travelling locums and concerns about unnecessary exposure to Covid-19 just before Christmas were both major issues. One problem is that some firms still have a requirement for staff to be office based, although fortunately most firms are now set up for remote working and have fully embraced the benefits. There are plenty of conveyancing locums available for remote work still and I have also added in an example price list for conveyancing title check work below as well (we have had a number of enquiries in the last week).

The locum market is not just about conveyancing though – we have seen an increase in commercial litigation, corporate commercial & in house, coupled with a higher than usual demand for family law. Large increase in the search for ad hoc consultants in a wide range of work including costs and in house general counsel. One quiet area is wills & probate – it remains surprisingly inactive still despite previous predictions of it turning into a boom area. Locum updates here:

Permanent Recruitment – Busy
It has picked up on the permanent front. Firms are registering property and family vacancies with us mainly – it seems that a number of candidates have decided to move on and handed in their notice after the Christmas break. This increase is fairly standard for the time of year – and every year we are always surprised that partners always seem surprised (if not horrified) when they receive notice from employees straight after Christmas! Vacancies here:

Law Firms for Sale – Busy
Christmas has been a time of reflection for potential law firm sellers. I have had a few calls this week from senior partners taking stock and thinking about a future without the stress of running a law firm. I have taken three new instructions in the last week with a further three in the pipeline. We have a £500k turnover CLC practice in North West England, a small £125k turnover portable CQS property law firm with national clients and a shell law firm in London with a £30k turnover. Full list at For a confidential discussion please ring 01824 780937 and speak to Jonathan Fagan or email

REC/KPMG UK Job Market Report (we are members of the panel contributing to this report)
Key Findings
Permanent placements rise marginally
Temp billings expand at sharpest pace since October 2018
Total demand for staff rises for first time in three months

KPMG Vice Chair Comment:
“The emergence of a vaccine did bring more confidence to the jobs market in December with
a small increase in permanent appointments. Temporary billings were also sharply up across
the UK although London was a notable exception. However, we will have to see what January brings with a new national lockdown sure to fuel economic uncertainty, alongside preparing and adapting to the new relationship with the EU. But with the UK leading the way on the vaccine roll out and continued government financial support, there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel for both business and jobseekers.”

Ten Percent Legal Recruitment Statistics – December 2020

General Statistics for December 2020 (comparison is with December 2019)
New permanent vacancies added: 12 (7)
New locum vacancies added: 16 (10)
New candidates registering: 30 (43)

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