Categories:Europe,London

UK firms remain wary despite elevated recruitment figures

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  • Seriously, the top 25 firms hired hundreds of lawyers in the last twelve months? What's the ratio of fee earners to support staff for this chart?

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  • Also the numbers given for 'job loses' must be taken with a pitch of salt - these are presumably announced job loses. Alot of the top 25 firms made massive unannounced job loses via managing people out.

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  • Only 19 job losses at Pinsents?! That makes me chuckle.

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  • seriously? you expect ppl to believe that A&O laid off more associates than CC and Links??!

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  • actually A&O did make that many lay-offs - at least in London anyway

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  • This table seems to show that the data for 8 out the top 12 firms in the table is based on 'estimated figures'. If thats right, are these the law firm's estimates or The Lawyers'?

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  • ...and still, not a word of help or support to the army of NQ lawyers not kept on. We are having to face turning from the law after huge investment of time and money: and once a turn away has been made, we will struggle to return. Go and do pro bono they say - and pay the rent with what? The SRA, The Lawyer, law firms, and Patners at large should feel ashamed by the lack of support being offered to this easily forgotten, inexperienceed group. It is shameful.

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  • Will be interesting to compare the figures employed before the crunch and in the latest LLP accounts of each of the above firms, I have my doubts the announced 'job loss' figures will tally with the people who were actually cut by 'announced' and unannounced 'managing out'. If the lawyer is to make a statistical comparison, then it shouldn't rely on the figures of cut backs actually announced by the firms - they have to dig deeper.

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  • Only 4 job losses at Freshfields. Not sure who is doing the maths.

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  • There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the likes of Freshfields and Slaughters were sacking in droves: the figures of 4 and 0 (official redundancies) are therefore very misleading and it is very disingeneous and insulting for the above-named partners at those firms to suggest otherwise.

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  • I agree 19 at Pinsents is laughable. I suspect if you added a zero to this figure it would be nearer the mark.

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  • Re NQs and Junior Lawyers - the support from the SRA and Law Society has been non-existent. A couple of months ago there was a "webinar" (CPD available - whoooopee!) and we were told we could join the "junior lawyers division" - so you can attend the junior lawyers ball and share dole queue experiences I suppose - like either is really going to help!

    Re Getting "Volunteer" experience... (a) it does not pay the bills, (b) we do not live on thin air, (c) the experience is most likely not relevant if you are trying to get back into a City firm and (d) this is just "cheap" talk to make the giver of the advice (often with no experience of being unemployed EVER) feel like they are saying something "constructive" and "positive".

    Re Numbers Sacked - Reminds me of the government massaging unemployment figures - it's disgusting. It's even more disgusting that this is simply published with none of the figures being seriously challenged. What people really want to know is how many were sacked/"managed out" etc. The figures seem to bear little reality to what I heard was happening at many firms across the City. Agree - dig deeper, a LOT deeper!

    Comment on Freshfields "tapping" their alumni - why are these schemes always hailed as "innovative" and "creative". Clearly it's just a way of getting previous people in without having to pay recruitment agency fees, the partners know that these people have no intention of coming back full time so they dont have to manage their careers, the hours are so flexible etc. It's all about being in the firm's favour. The article could do with a lot more investigative grit. This is similar to the Skadden sidebar programme - hailed as innovative - how many took the sidebar and crucially how many are being taken back.......

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  • I have been trying to find a job for ages. Despite an excellent 'pedigree' training from a MC firm, first class from oxbridge etc etc, I have been unsuccessful. I see no evidence of law firms hiring at the rate suggested.
    Are these figures all lateral hires? Do they represent the trainees being kept on? Are these actually fee earning hires?
    I have noticed that many firms understandably do not want to use recruitment agents but on contacting them via introductions or people I know within those firms, was told that they are barely recruiting.
    The Lawyer needs to do some more digging and provide a breakdown of no of fee earner hires v support staff, junior v mid v senior lev hires, which departments are hiring the most. otherwise these figures are just not credible and this article will sadly be a waste of space and time.

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  • Since the crash/market correction/recession whatever you want to call it law firms have found that they can get experienced lawyers at a great discount to what they previously had to pay, there is therefore little incentive for them to take NQ's.

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  • With regards John's comment which is perfectly valid, I think the interestingly thing to watch is whether when the true upturn comes, and firms are no longer so powerful in the recruitment market, whether the firms which shall we say have been less candid about how many people they let go in a vain attempt to suggest they were less hit by the recession than other more candid firms will get some pay back in the recruitment market. Will a lawyer looking at competing firms look back and assess how that firm acted during the downturn - personally I think people and lawyers in particular looking for positions have short memories.

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  • Yes law firms have found that they can get experienced lawyers at reduced prices, eager interns for nothing, alumni glad to get back into work etc, ... oh and let's not forget that in order to save on recruitment firms are "re-skilling" juniors so as to avoid having to recruit... who are the loosers? - yes Junior Lawyers and NQ's.

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  • To MC trained with Oxbridge 1st
    I feel for you. The problem is, the market has changed: being MC trained with Oxbridge 1st is no longer enough to walk into a job or at least virtually guarantee an interview.
    The scene has changed and now given firm's strategies to hire more experienced lawyers (as they can get them for cheaper), re-skilling exsiting juniors into more active areas, tapping alumni, firms commitments to recruit associates on sidebar programmes etc. there is unfortunately nothing that you can do about this as people like you (NQs and Juniors) are the innocent victims in this bloodbath.
    People are quick to say you should change career.. but why on earth should you?
    The worry is that the longer you are out of practising as a solicitor the more difficult it may be to get back in and I have had some agents tell me that firms may look to candidates who have remained in employment during this bleak time rather than take a "chance" on someone who has been sacked/laid off/ made redundant etc.
    The situaiton is truly awful catch 22.
    And as an earlier message said.. where are the Law Society adn SRA in all of this.... seemingly busy dreaming up a new code of conduct for solicitors... lets hope it includes ethical behaviour in times of fianancial stability... but that's problably asking too much!

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  • Will Lawyers being recruited remember that a particular firm treated its associates badly in the downturn.? ........

    Probably not - if you have not been treated badly by the firm hiring you, you tend not to really believe (or want to believe) that the same firm is capable of being decidedly nasty/ruthless in a downturn and when you have an offer in your hand with great money (comapred to having no job) you probably are prepared to think that the partner you will be working for seems really nice, that you will be different etc
    I think it's a game of psychology and the lawyers will want to forget the horrific treatment they have suffered.
    I wonder how it bodes for future working environment in the City? ... the key points to take home seem to be that:
    - no job is safe,
    - you can be got rid of easily... either any time up to one year or simply managed out
    - law firms only worry about their clients and profits and not you, and
    - a firms mantra cannot be believed
    - preserving partner drawings seems to be the name of the game and woe betide anyone who interferes with that!

    In time when there has been a sustained recovery I have no doubt that firms will begin to splash cash at trainees and associates and that will make the unpleasantness easier to forget ... at least for some

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  • This is just further proof that this magazine does not carry out research and is just a mouthpiece for marketing departments. virtually all firms have a headcount freeze. These numbers are meaningless and misleading. There should be some form of auditing requirements as there is clearly a financial benefit to the law firms in the advantageous perception by prospective employees during a competitive market. Prospective employees should be treated as any other stakeholder and protected as such.

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  • I have to say that it's rather depressing to read an anecdote from a MC trained 1st class Oxbridge alumnus struggling to secure a NQ role. After going through all the hassle of securing a TC I had hoped that the worst part of the legal career was behind me. Clearly not. I kid myself that by the time I qualify the economy will be some way to regaining full health but the snail's pace recovery is putting paid to that notion.

    I have been acutely aware for some time that the legal industry's power base is vested in the hands of too few ingrates with their heads in the sand but their backsides well covered. I pray that I can accrue enough experience to eventually set-up my own firm so that I can one day reap the fruits of my own labour instead of prostituting myself for others.

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  • This has been a terrible year for law firms, and many former associates and partners may never find another job in a large firm. But come on - auditing requirements? legal protection for prospetive employees? the SRA overseeing hiring and firing practices?

    Some people need to get real.

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  • Andre - I completely agree with you....

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  • "Magic Cirlce Partner" your arrogance is staggering. An oxbridge 1st commits to working for an MC firm where he/she may have many other options, he/she deserves an open and honest account of hiring and firing policies to assess long term prospects. If the candidate is put into a capital market practice which is cyclical he should have some confidence that his skills can be transferred into say litigation not dumped at the first sign of a downturn.
    The fact is that MC candidates once having practiced for a few years in a cyclical practice are not actually employable outside the MC, so you see the 1st from Oxbridge has been misled.
    Definately more tranpsarency and better career managment practices are needed unless you are prepared to pay such huge salaries so that people can retire early.

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  • As a redundant lawyer mysteriously omitted from the redundancy numbers at my former firm, I would have to say that I would like to see some more journalistic investigation of the above by The Lawyer. While I agree that auditing, etc is overkill, people should be able to make a valid choice how firms treat their staff and the above figures are inaccurate. Surely it should be for the legal press to at least investigate the true position.

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  • To Magic Circle Partner
    1. Auditing Requirements... If the law firms can't be trusted to disclose accurate statistics why shoudl Joe Public be expected to swallow the lies.... haven't we had enough of that already? Or maybe there is something to hide... which only strengthens the argument for auditing.
    2. SRA regulating hiring and firing - I don't think that was mentioned explicitly. At present, like it or not, training contracts are already regulated. I dare say that may have had something to do with the fact that few if any trainees were fired (not to mention the bad publicity and the fact that they are cheap labour)
    3. Legal Protection for prospective employees
    As law firms don't register the contracts for trainees until they start this has meant that law firms have been able to defer but given law firm's treatment of its employees it might be no harm to have some kind of regulation in place to preclude another bloodbath.
    Maybe magic circle partner, it might be worth having a look in the mirror and sparing a taught for the ones you so hastily got rid of.

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  • I am the lawyer trained with MC with 1st class from oxbridge. i actually stayed with my firm just short of 2 years until i was managed out by negative performance appraisals which were totally ridiculous since before the appraisals all i got was rave reviews. I also heard many lawyers in all MCs had their pay frozen even though they were still being charged out at same rate. at the time i was managed out no less than 6 juniors left mysteriously not even giving their notice. this is way before the redundancy. since then i have found that my pqe doesnt matter as i dont have more than 2 years pqe, am being treated as an NQ ! also my experience is so specialised that i am told i dont have transferable skills. may be i should have done what the more savvy lawyer in my department did- slept with a senior partner. that sure worked for her.

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  • To MC with 1st class from oxbridge
    I think recruitment consultants will tell you anything so as not to get your hopes up - 2 years PQE is 2 years PQE fact. Yes it's a problem that you have specialised early but I can't believe that makes you unemployable nor that the 2 years PQE should count for nothing.
    Amazing how firms manage people out with these ridiculuous negative appraisals - there should be rules in place to regulate genuine objectivity where a negative appraisal is made. Who is overseeing the appraisal process to ensure that such systemic flaws are not allowed to happen? It seems like an everyday abuse by law firms of their "trusted" employees - no wonder law firms don't want their dirty laundry audited or regulated! And then they have you by the unmentionables as you need a reference. It's galling!
    I draw the line at sleeping with a partner - you owe yourself more respect than that! Stick to your guns, keep trying and at least you know in your heart of hearts that what you achieved what you acheived through tenacity and hard work.

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  • Sod's Law...don't ever change! You truly are a breath of fresh air.

    The pathetic spectacle of academic genius hurling itself at City Firms is car crash tv at its very worst; like watching religious fanatics throwing themselves off mountains to show their devotion in the vain hope of advancement.

    There is genuine talent in the City (and we as a nation ought to be proud of that internationally recognised talent) but, for the most part, your future at a City Firm depends on:

    - whether you were born with a chin; and/or
    - whether you can morph into a person with no chin because your sperm and egg donors sent you to school with chinless wonders; and/or
    - whether you are related (by blood, backstairs association or failed pregnancy test) to an equity partner; and/or
    - whether you win the coin toss over whether to buy another ivory back scratcher or to make you redundant because room needs to be being made for one of the above

    Start your own firm and start the trend that will sweep this garbage away once and for all (and as for the body of City lawyers targeted... well, like a cartoon villain, you can always delude yourselves that one man/woman cannot make a difference)

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  • The idea more regulation and red tape is a solution to anything is a joke. If you don't like the way your firm is run, then go somewhere else or start your own firm.

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  • To "magic circle partner" for once I agree with you. I'm not advocating red tape or more regulation but more transparency - there is a difference. Also I couldn't agree more lawyers need to be more entrepeneurial and not be afraid of striking out on their own. I know a few who have and make bucket loads more than these so called precious top of equity magic circle partners. Go for it you might surprise yourself.

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  • KRUSTY THE KLOWN you really are a malevolent, bitter old thing. And jealous. You should save your failed high street vitriol for your similarly minded colleagues: I have read many of your posts and they are most tiresome.

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  • To Magic Circle Partner
    Please support your arguments rather than being dismissive of someone who doesn't share your view.
    LIke it or not - in the wake of the crisis there is going to be more regulation in every sphere and quite right too - the legal profession should be no different.
    Law firms should issue accurate figures about comings and goings - seemingly they haven't.done so.
    Law firms should have treated their juniors with a little more dignity and respect - they haven't done so.
    Both are abuses in their own right.....
    If you dont like the firm go to another one - have a look around - go where? - no jobs
    Start your own firm?... I think you know that you need 3 years PQ to start a firm and it's unlikely we get the big cleints of a CIty firm.
    Extraordinary comments from one of such privilege!

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