in Legal Job Market Reports

Legal Job Market Report May 10th 2017

Legal Job Market Report – May 10th 2017

Key points from 5th April to 10th May 2017 as follows:
* The demand for staff generally has stayed the same.
* Permanent recruitment has decreased slightly.
* Locum recruitment has increased and hourly rates have gone up slightly.
* Wills and Probate locum and permanent roles quieter but candidates remain in demand. Vacancies remain unfilled.
* Conveyancing remains busy – both locum and permanent.
* Commercial Property roles have picked up. Permanent vacancies remain unfilled.
* Litigation is quiet.
* Family law roles are steady.
* London market is still busier than it was in 2016.

April has been a very busy month, although as ever it is split by the Easter holidays. Locum work traditionally starts to get very busy just after Easter as solicitors start to book their annual leave (and maternity leave – busier than average at this time of year). We have seen the cyclical increase in locum work and also in the number of permanent roles coming in. April is traditionally a quieter month as the end of the financial year results in a drop-off in recruitment, but this year that has not happened. We have remained busy and I am not sure what is driving the market at the moment.

Locum hourly rates have picked up a bit. Whereas in the winter months we were getting clear signs of increased competition on most locum roles, this is now starting to clear and availability rather than price is the key factor for a lot of new assignments.

We have noted this month from a couple of local authority roles coming in that the new rules surrounding the use of locum services by local authorities is having an effect on recruitment. Something to do with IR35 and agency liability for contractors’ tax if not paid. Yet another hurdle placed on local government’s ability to choose who to contract with. I suspect that at some point there will be only one provider for all local authority locum work due to the increased complexities involved:- and it will not be a smaller sized agency!

The IHS Markit Report on Jobs for April has shown the following key points:
* Permanent placements growth slows, but temp billings rise sharply
* Steepest drop in candidate availability for 16 months
* Demand for permanent and short-term staff remains marked

REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation – the recruitment industry body) have commented on these findings as follows: “Demand for staff is growing within all sectors and all regions of the UK, but there are fewer and fewer people available to fill the vacancies. We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty. As a result, candidate availability is at a 16-month low and recruiters are flagging a shortage of suitable applicants for more than 60 different roles from cleaner to accountant. Every shortage has wider implications, for example the exceptional reputation UK engineering enjoys globally is at risk because employers can’t find people with the skills they need.
(this data is from the Report on Jobs survey prepared by IHS Markit. We contribute to the survey and receive a copy of the report each month).

Out of the 64 new vacancies posted in April, 25 of them were in Greater London and 16 in the South East. 17 were in conveyancing and 10 were company commercial, commercial litigation and commercial property roles.

A summary of work we did in April is below (March figures in brackets).
April 2017 – Summary:
* Permanent vacancies down
* Locum assignments up
* London vacancies: 150 (154)
* South East: 340 (346)
* South West: 85 (80)
* Midlands: 49 (61)
* North West: 82 (85)
* North East: 42 (42)
* Wales: 16 (22)

Market outlook – vacancies have increased and although this is the standard annual recruitment cycle, the levels have been very high indeed.

Current live vacancies: 766 (792)
New permanent vacancies added in April: 54 (63)
New locum vacancies added in April: 57 (56)
New candidates registering: 94 (72)
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