Landscape Logo Landscape Logo

A closed case some might say? Well think again…

Legal recruitment is a very, very interesting space at the moment with everything going at the moment, but at JMC we have been pleasantly surprised with just how busy we have been. The July rush has perhaps taken the place of the January rush this 2020 – and who could have guessed?

There are many different ways you can look at recruitment from both the perspective of a law firm, and a lawyer. At the moment things can change very quickly. We have found there is all to gain from speaking to a knowledgeable recruiter at the moment with both of the above points in mind so I decided to put together an informal piece below:

Lawyers

It may be true that recruitment is not the first thing that comes to mind in light of a global pandemic. This much is true… and of course health & safety comes first. However, being both on furlough or working from home is a struggle for people (please remember famous BBC interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4f9AYRCZY ) and unsurprisingly, we are speaking to many disgruntled lawyers / fee-earners who are either not happy with how their respective practices’ reaction to covid-19, or feel the grass could be greener on the other side upon reflection having taken a step back / away.

Something we are saying time and time again at the moment is – now is a very good time to consider the potential for more gainful employment. This does not mean actively applying to all roles in the local area and in fact, quite the opposite. This simply means having an initial conversation with someone who knows the market to discuss what your definition of ‘more gainful employment’ actually means. There is no single definition for this term as it applies to people is an incalculable amount of different ways. Once a recruiter knows the definition what more gainful employment means in the context of a candidate’s situation – we can really assist in discussing options moving forwards. It's fair to say a good recruiter with discuss options of interested tailored on the basis of candidates interests and not just all opportunities generally speaking.

Getting ahead of the game is the principal behind all of the above. I suspect many solicitors feel now is the wrong time to look as there isn’t much going on in the market, but it is clear to us this is not the case. I think its fair to say transactional areas of law i.e. corporate or property have undoubtably been hit the hardest by covid-19 as a general rule. However, many of my clients throughout the south-east have dispelled the above myth and have gone as far to say that conveyancing has been their busiest department… so where is the consistency? The truth is, there isn’t much consistency at all but that is not a bad thing at all.

The lesson from the above is – do not assume before you investigate and do your research. And how do you do that? By speaking to people who know the market and the trends and I am sure you know where this is going next…

 National trends are indicators and generally speaking they make sense. However, looking at things on a case by case basis is very important to gain a wider picture of the market. The crux of the matter is that if departments are busy, and there is a business case to do so, firms will recruit. This gives the watchful eyed / commercially minded lawyer an opportunity to take advantage whilst other sit on their laurels and wait for things to ‘pick up’.

Law firms

Something we have thought time and time again here at JMC is with the sheer amount of conversations we are having at the moment, now is a fantastic time to coup a fantastic lawyer that would be tricky to recruit in conventional times. Covid-19, as previously discussed, has given many lawyers (and particularly partners) the time away to reflect and many of those who have come to realise there could be the potential for more gainful employment. With any recruitment there has to be a business case to hire, but with the number of partners who are well connected and have portable client bases to bring, now is a very, very good time to consider growth at the lateral level.

I am very much of the view, along with many of my colleagues at JMC, now is a fantastic time to strategise growth at the lateral level. Many of the firms I work with throughout the South East have ‘core practice areas’ where they are looking to grow which is a fairly common thing. It is a great time to make their suppliers aware of these areas more-so at the moment, and particularly agencies who focus on the lateral level as the potential to coup a partner looking for a new challenge is higher than ever. I think it's fair to say that many businesses are inherently risk adverse, but there is a real opportunity for practices to begin talks with partner level candidates in core areas of growth.

Recruitment at the junior level is admittedly tough and persistence and perseverance is very much the key. However, from a firm’s perspective and similarly to recruitment at the lateral level, should there be a potential case to hire at the junior level now is a very good time to consider doing so. We are speaking to many NQ’s and junior lawyers who unfortunately have been made redundant / not being retained post training contact which is unfortunate. However, this is often a consequence of the flow of work coming into practices, and not a reflection on the lawyer themselves. Similarly, now is a fantastic time to hire a brilliant junior lawyer would be tricky to recruit in normal times.

Written by Recruitment Consultant - Joe Bryant - 0203 865 2113 (joe@jmc-legal.com).