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Where’s all the Legal talent gone?

  • February 20, 2018

You place an ad with a recruitment agency, excited to see who will apply and what the crop of candidates will bring. You’ve a great reputation, an attractive benefits package and offer a generous salary, so why aren’t quality candidates coming through the door?

It’s a familiar story. Plenty of undergraduates show an interest in law; according to the Law Society, a total of 22,765 students were accepted onto undergraduate law courses in England and Wales in the academic year 2016-17. And it’s not as though there are only a handful of fully-qualified, experienced solicitors in the land, as the same report indicates that there were 175,160 solicitors on the roll at the end of July 2016. While the figures appear healthy at first glance, the reality is that law firms are struggling to keep pace with changing demands.

What does a talent shortage mean for the legal sector?

One area of the law where a lack of quality candidates is particularly prevalent is in Conveyancing. The labour-intensive process of Conveyancing and the growth of other areas of law, such as work for private clients, mean that firms are struggling to meet the property-related demands of their client base. Firms are under pressure to retain existing talent and attract new talent from a shrinking pool.

Firms should take action to remain competitive

A 2017 survey by PwC found that more than half of the top law firms within the UK were not keeping pace with new technology. As a result, labour-intensive processes, such as facilitating the sale of property, remain just as labour-intensive and reliant on slow postal systems for sending documents to be signed as they ever were.

Not only does this make the field of conveyancing unattractive as a whole, a lack of investment in technology signals to a candidate that this is not a firm that is looking forward or moving in the right direction. Investing in technology to allow electronic signatures and cut out snail mail makes life easier, and the service more attractive, for all parties from staff members and candidates to clients.

Alongside investment in best practice for the future, training is another key factor in offering a competitive edge when recruiting candidates. As time moves on and client demands change, so too must the skills offered by solicitors. And of course, there’s the ever-present spectre of Brexit looming, bringing with it an uncertain future with Europe, and clients that may need advice on trading overseas. Equipping your staff to deal with these issues broadens their skill set, strengthens what your practice can offer, and makes the whole package more appealing to candidates.

The most important factor for law firms

With ways of working changing faster than they have in decades, technological advances continuing apace and an uncertain relationship with Europe on the horizon, flexibility is the defining characteristic law firms need to display. Investing in better ways of doing things and training staff is all well and good, but it’s only relevant until circumstances and client demands change next week, next month, or next year. Law firms need to have one eye on the future, one eye on the lay of the land, and adjust and readjust as times move on to be in with a fighting chance of attracting – and keeping – the very best candidates.

Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your Recruitment needs by calling us on 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly.

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More Coverage for Clayton Legal’s Yorkshire Analysis

  • January 5, 2018

UK recruitment industry news website Recruitment Buzz is the latest media outlet to cover our market analysis for advertised legal roles in Yorkshire.

This follows articles from publications including Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Business LinkBdaily, and the Global Recruiter.

To find out what the results mean for legal professionals in Yorkshire and the surrounding areas, please click the links above.

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Clayton Legal’s latest recruitment analysis featured in the press

  • December 4, 2017

Our latest market analysis for advertised legal roles has been featured in a number of publications including Bdaily, the Global Recruiter and Recruitment International.

It has revealed that vacancies for legal professionals across the North West have risen by 9% month-on-month. To learn more about the results, click the links above.

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Clayton Legal’s Manchester recruitment analysis in the press

  • October 27, 2017

Our latest market analysis for Manchester and the surrounding areas has been featured by Recruitment International and the Online Recruitment website.

One of the key insights from our survey, which is based on our comprehensive data on advertised roles and candidates registered, is that demand for private practice lawyers has risen by 44% month-on-month.

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Clayton Legal’s North East recruitment analysis in the press

  • September 22, 2017

Our latest market analysis for advertised legal roles in the North East has been covered by a number of a wide range of media outlets including Solicitors JournalGlobal RecruiterHR Director and IFA Magazine.

One of the key findings from our data is that vacancies for private practice lawyers across the North East have risen by 24% month-on-month – this can largely be attributed to a buoyant commercial property market which is fuelling demand for conveyancing professionals.

You can also read the full summary of all of our regions by clicking here.

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Clayton Legal’s Midlands recruitment analysis in the press

  • September 12, 2017

Our latest market analysis for advertised legal roles in the Midlands has been covered by Recruitment International and Bdaily.

One of the key findings from the analysis is that vacancies for private practice lawyers across the Midlands have risen by 68% month-on-month – with the ‘mini boom’ in the region’s housing market contributing to the demand for residential conveyancing professionals.

You can also read the full summary of all of our regions by clicking here.

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How real is the threat of cyber-attacks to legal firms?

  • September 11, 2017

In the modern, digitally-led world in which we live, threats to businesses are probably more likely to come from the web than anywhere else. In recent years there have been dozens of major cyber-attacks on businesses including Sony, TalkTalk, E-Sports, InterContinental Hotel Group, Verizon, IRS, Snapchat and many more. Even the US Presidential election was allegedly influenced by Russian hackers. Organisations within the legal sector rather obviously hold a considerable amount of potentially valuable data, but how real is threat of cyber-attacks to legal firms?

1 in 100

The UK legal industry is worth somewhere in the region of £26bn which makes research from cloud data intelligence firm, OnDmarc even more concerning. Just one of the UK’s top 100 legal firms has sufficient measures in place to protect them against even the most basic forms of email fraud. And if bigger firms – with larger resources – don’t have these defences then it’s highly unlikely smaller ones do either.

Legal firms exposed to cyber attacks

However, this should certainly not be the case and legal firms must start upping their defences to protect them from the ever growing threat of cyber-attacks. The risk of phishing attacks has risen by 65% in 2016 while the use of fake or compromised email accounts to steal information increased by 39% in the last quarter alone, according to email security firm, Mimecast. Attackers use these methods by pretending to be someone in a position of power, such as a CEO or Partner, to trick recipients into sending them confidential or valuable data.

Rois Ni Thuama, head of cyber security governance partnerships and legal at OnDmarc, commented on the findings. “With over 10,000 law firms operating in the UK, handling sensitive and hugely confidential commercial and private data, there is a real opportunity for scammers to target the legal sector. Many law firms either don’t understand the risk or assume that their existing email systems will do the job of protecting them, even though our study very quickly demonstrated that it’s all too easy for a criminal to exploit these firms’ email domains in order to impersonate the company and send out fraudulent messages to external clients and stakeholders.”

Cyber security experts wanted

What this highlights is that firms need to start thinking about their defences more than they currently are and ultimately, need to refocus their hiring strategies to incorporate cyber security specialists. However, there are few of these individuals available in any market, let alone the legal sector, which means that firms will almost essentially be forced into targeting those in other industries. But these people know their skills are few and far between and you will therefore need to be equipped with a tailored and cutting edge employer value proposition if you want to have a chance of attracting and retaining them. Offering the same package you do to lawyers will only turn cyber experts off so you need to take a leaf from the likes of the digital, tech and perhaps even financial industries which have, to date, put much more of a focus on bolstering their online defences. The organisations that don’t opt for this approach are likely to be vulnerable targets and could risk exposing their clients’ valuable and sensitive information, which they certainly want to avoid.

How do you think legal firms can deal with growing threat of cyber-attacks?

Take a look at some our other blogs to gain more insight about the legal sector

Or take a look at our current roles to find your next game-changing role.

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Clayton’s North West legal recruitment analysis in Lancashire Evening Post and Bdaily

  • August 30, 2017

Our latest market analysis for advertised legal roles in the North West has been covered by the 29th August edition of the popular regional daily newspaper Lancashire Evening Post and regional business news site Bdaily.

One of the key findings from our analysis is that vacancies for private practice lawyers have increased across the North West by 36% month-on-month.

To read more about the results, including the levels of demand for family and probate solicitors, click here.

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Legal jobs outside of London

  • July 28, 2017

The capital has traditionally been the legal employment hub in the UK but now throughout the UK there are now several firms, of all sizes, creating legal jobs outside of London. However, even with property prices plateauing, the capital is still beyond the reach of many who are starting out in their careers and many legal professionals might be starting to look further afield. The options to move elsewhere to pursue a role have significantly opened up. But where can you find legal jobs outside of London?

Legal jobs outside of London

Leeds may stake its claim to being the country’s second-largest legal hub outside of London, while Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester follow closely behind. The concept of ‘northshoring,’ where firms relocate their services centres into the northern part of the country, has certainly contributed to this growth and is expected to continue to do so in the coming years.

Recent figures from recruitment trade body APSCo found there was a 31% increase in the number of vacancies in the north east of England within private practice. And, in Scotland, both Glasgow and Edinburgh have a thriving and profitable legal scene.

What to keep in mind

Aside from property, salaries may be a strong determining factor in candidate’s decisions. The infamous north/south divide is not as disparate as might have been assumed. Average salaries for legal counsel in Greater London are £73,000, versus £72,000 for the same in Leeds. However, further down the seniority level, salaries for legal assistants are commanding salaries of £28,000 in London and £20,500 in Leeds. So the gap in pay remains in the mix, particularly at the lower end of the profession.

The increasing levels of student debt have been well-publicised and increasingly it looks as if it could become a barrier to university entry with some estimates putting the overall figure on the total debt being as high as £100 billion. So for many who previously may have considered entering the legal profession via the university route, their options are being re-examined in light of these statistics.

Apprenticeship options

The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy earlier this year, might be part of the solution to finding legal jobs outside of London for many candidates. Not only may it lead to increased levels of diversity and social mobility as the barriers to new entrants are substantially reduced, but it also offers a salaried way into the profession while studying on the job.

While it’s unlikely that changes in attitude will occur overnight, the opportunities the Levy affords to candidates, as more firms decide to offer apprenticeship routes into law, will open up the profession to a more diverse workforce in the long run.

Finally, for many candidates, work-life balance issues are increasingly playing an important role within their decision-making process. While the law can be a tough employer, with a wide range of skills required to succeed, work-life balance has not, until now, been particularly evident in the mix.

While salaries may be lower outside London several factors may influence a candidate’s decision of where to locate themselves. For many, the lack of a long commute or even the rise of the ‘reverse commute’ from cities to suburban areas, the lifestyle choice on offer, and the chance of either owning or renting a property which may be out of reach in the capital are all appealing factors. In a pressurised environment such as law, these may prove to be the deciding factors that legal professionals are starting to consider.

If you’re looking for your next legal job outside of London, or are looking for a role in the capital, then get in touch with our expert team.

Or check out some of our other blogs to gain some great, cutting-edge legal advice

Or take a look at some of our current legal jobs


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Why partners need to listen more to their fee earners

  • July 3, 2017

A new report by the research and information firm, LexisNexis, suggests that there could be a growing disconnect between partners in mid-sized firms across the UK and the front line fee earners that work for them.

The study – ‘Mind the Gap’ – found that partners tended to have a much more optimistic view of their firms than more junior lawyers. For example, 84% believed that their firm had a clear commercial strategy for the future, as opposed to just 62% of professional employees and 72% believed that the partnership was capable of ‘agile’ decision making as opposed just 52% of those further down the pecking order. Partners and more junior lawyers also disagreed on what should be the priority issue in 2016 with the former focused on review of information sources while the latter were crying out for more investment in processes and technology. Perhaps most worryingly, well over half of the partners not only disagreed with their employees but actually seemed to believe that no further attention needed to be paid to these areas.

So why does it matter and, furthermore, why is it of interest to a professional recruiter?

The reason is perhaps obvious. If the study is truly representative of UK law firms – at least those in the medium-sized bracket – then it does suggest that many leaders are not communicating with their people as effectively as they could be and are consequently not winning ‘hearts and minds’. And this is important because the logical result will be a lack of engagement that will impact on the day-to-day effectiveness of the business and raise levels of staff attrition.

It also makes it harder to attract and hire the sort of high-calibre legal talent that a practice needs in order to thrive in increasingly competitive markets. In our hyper-connected world, candidates will quickly pick up on any divergence of message and mission between partners and professional staff, and, in many cases, will respond by voting with their feet. A truly attractive employer brand can only be built on a healthy and open culture. And this, in turn, calls for effective, two way internal communication where goals and objectives are continually shared, rather than simply handed down from above.

Do you think there should be closer relationships between fee-earners and partners? Let us know your thoughts below.

Get in touch today to see how we can help your company with hiring experts to join your team. Call the office on 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy here.

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