Why Should We Pay You a Fee Just to Send an Email Out?
in Employers, Legal Profession

Why Should We Pay You a Fee Just to Send an Email Out?

We recently took an interesting call from a HR assistant at a law firm in the North West of England. During the call, she asked the eternal question that comes up time and again:

“Why should we pay you an 18% fee just to send a speculative email out to your database?”

Whenever anyone asks this question, and it has certainly come up on numerous occasions over the years (very often from HR departments!), we sigh a lot. Chances are, the HR person is wondering whether they should set their own recruitment agency up if this is all you have to do – send an email, get permission to send a CV, send a CV, arrange an interview and ker-ching, in comes the money!

As you might expect, the reason recruitment agencies exist still, even in the days of job boards, LinkedIn and online marketing for all, is because it remains incredibly hard to source the right talent. Yes, its quite possible to employ someone to contact lots of potential candidates on LinkedIn, but that market is saturated – candidates tend to ignore approaches. Furthermore telephoning individual candidates to sell them vacancies can lead to solicitors not wanting to engage with a particular agency anymore as they get fed up with the sales calls.


Take the email we send out. We have a database of over 12,500 solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers. This has taken about 20 years to put together. Candidates on our database will have been sourced from our newsletters (sent weekly), our online advertising (painfully expensive), our online presence from writing articles like this, previous applications for vacancies, recommendations from colleagues or friends, or previous dealings.

The investment recruitment agencies put into developing their databases is huge. Ours is not a particularly big database, but then we are not a particularly big agency.

Below is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of using a legal recruitment agency, plus the disadvantages. I have used a few business buzz words, apologies in advance.

Advantages of Using a Recruitment Agency

Expertise in Talent Acquisition

Yes, believe it or not, we possess specific expertise in talent acquisition and human resources. We specialise in the legal sector, providing not just any candidates we have randomly plucked from CV Library, but those who are interested, specifically skilled and experienced in the relevant work. Our consultants have over 50 years combined experience and the company is part owned by a qualified solicitor.

Time and Cost Efficiency

We save time. The recruitment process can be time-consuming, involving creating job descriptions, advertising, shortlisting, interviewing, and negotiating offers. For the majority of our clients we handle these processes, freeing up company resources for more interesting and profitable activities. Apart from interviewing, we can do just about everything else.

Access to a Larger Talent Pool

We have access to a broad candidate pool, including those who are not actively looking for new opportunities but are open to the right offers. These passive candidates are often highly skilled individuals who can bring significant value to a company. Because recruitment agencies maintain extensive databases of candidates who are not looking at LinkedIn and Reed 24/7 you get more exposure to more candidates.

Market Knowledge and Insights

Recruitment agencies keep their finger on the pulse of the markets they specialise in, providing valuable insights into hiring trends and salary benchmarks. We publish a salary guide and a locum hourly rate guide every month with information about recent figures seen. We also enable confidential communication with candidates, who are then able to discuss vacancies without the companies knowing who they are.

Reduced Risk of Bad Hire

A bad hire can be costly and painful. Make sure you use a legal recruitment consultancy who offer full 12 month rebates and 12 monthly instalments (Ten Percent Legal Recruitment do). This way, the use of a legal recruiter is low risk.

Disadvantages of Using a Recruitment Agency


Yes we cost money. While recruitment agencies save time and potentially reduce the risk of bad hires, they do come at a cost. The fees for their services can be substantial, typically ranging from 20%-35% of the candidate’s first annual salary (Ten Percent Legal charge 18%) with a rebate period of 3 months (Ten Percent Legal offer 12 months). For small businesses or startups we appreciate that this cost can be a significant barrier.

Less Control Over the Hiring Process

Using a recruitment agency means entrusting a key part of your business operations to an external entity. Some employers may feel this results in less control over the hiring process, particularly in terms of candidate engagement and brand representation.

Potential for Misalignment

There can be a risk of misalignment between what the employer seeks and what the recruitment agency delivers. This can occur if the agency does not fully understand the company’s culture or the specifics of the role, potentially leading to unsuitable candidates. This tends to be a communication issue – law firms can be a little bit vague in terms of what they are looking for, or too specific.


Relying on agencies can lead to a dependency that might inhibit the development of an in-house recruitment team in medium sized law firms. Companies risk losing the internal capabilities and market knowledge that come from directly engaging with candidates and understanding the dynamics of the labour market. Furthermore, lots of use of recruitment consultants can lead to unaffordable ongoing expenses.


We do a lot more than “just send an email” – to even get to the point to be able to send an email to anyone, we have to spend £000s in development, marketing and advertising. Recruitment is more than just buying access to CV Library or LinkedIn – both systems work occasionally, but they cannot better an experienced legal recruitment consultant armed with a well established database of qualified candidates.

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 www.ten-percent.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk