Interim Market

The Changing Interim Market – how to secure the best people for your law firm

Since joining Chadwick Nott’s interim team in 2014 I have witnessed so much change within the interim market. There has been the conveyancing boom and of course the effects of our regularly changing economic world – we have had Brexit, Trump election and imminently the UK general election, all affecting the markets and at times giving a sense of uncertainty. Alongside the economic factors, a range of lifestyle factors have come into force. A surprising number of full-time employed lawyers have become very open to interim positions including senior lawyers undertaking consultant roles to a number of law firms. Then we also have so many law firms introducing flexible working models.

So, it’s fair to say the past 3 years have been bumpy to say the least with lots of highs and lows. And with this unpredictable market, there has been a clear shift in favour of interim lawyers as opposed to permanent recruitment for a range of positions.

Two of the most noticeable factors affecting the job market right now are:-

– it is a candidate driven market – there is a lack of quality lawyers looking for new roles, permanent or interim. Most law firms are looking to recruit in some form or other so the competition is high
– Then there is a substantial shift in employees looking for flexible working – such as part-time options, different hours and home working

Some of the larger law firms have been very aware of these factors and in order to resource their client needs, they have in turn introduced various flexible working models such as; Lawyers on Demand, Eversheds Agile, Shoosmiths – Resource Solutions and Allen & Overy’s Peerpoint. These law firms identified that the need for high calibre interim lawyers has increased, as their clients require flexible resourcing solutions to meet the fast changing demands of the marketplace. Many firms identified that they were losing out on some of the best lawyer talent and in turn clients, due to their rigid structure …..something had to give.

But it’s not all about the big firms. The legal interim market has grown rapidly and law firms of all levels from high street to the City firms are utilising contract and temporary lawyers/consultants for varied opportunities. The interim model had proven to be cost effective as well as flexible in this ever changing legal world.

Here I’ve devised some top tips on what every law firm needs to do to ensure they continue to secure good quality interim candidates;

Speed is of the essence

Due to the nature of the temporary market, speed is the key. Typically last minute cover is required for any short term absences such as sickness and holiday cover.

It is essential for a law firm to move quickly to secure the best interim candidates. Many clients will book an interim/locum without even a telephone interview (knowing that the recruitment consultant will cover references and compliance matters). Feedback on the CV should be fast as should feedback if a telephone or even face-to-face interview does take place.

Quite frequently we have to chase law firms for feedback on interims. On these occasions, very unfortunately, the candidate has often already been placed elsewhere when the firms get back to us.

Telephone / Skype interviews

Many interim candidates are still working in an assignment when they are seeking their next temporary/contract role. This can obviously make it very difficult for them to take a day off to attend a face to face interview. So if an interview is required and with the technology that is available nowadays, law firms should be open to carrying out at least an initial telephone/Skype or Facetime interview. Not only is this an easy way to ensure you get to speak to the best candidates in the market first, but it’s cost effective for the interim lawyer. Most importantly the turnaround times are quick with many candidates joining the law firm the very next day!

Foreign Qualified Lawyers

It’s time to be more open minded about some foreign qualified lawyers! Chadwick Nott’s International team attracts and works closely with some top notch foreign qualified lawyers from a number of common law jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and other European Countries. These candidates can have high calibre training gained in their jurisdiction and are either immediately available or available at short notice. Many of these lawyers are already residing in the UK on a work visa and as such no additional costs would be involved for the end client. The Interim team have seen a high demand for these lawyers in the London market, particularly at Magic and Silver Circle firms. Regional law firms however, with a few exceptions, seem to be reticent to recognise this source of very capable lawyers.

Flexible working

With the rapid growth of the freelance lawyers’ market, law firms encouraging and accepting flexible working can benefit. Research has shown Generation Y (18-27 year olds) employees have a greater list of work life balance demands, so there is now a real sense of pressure on law firms to be open minded to flexible working. Love it or hate it, flexible working is on the forefront of many lawyers’ minds.

On a daily basis I am speaking with top city lawyers who wish to continue to use their qualifications and skills and would like to secure a flexible interim role, but come up against reluctance from partners or individual law firms. Lawyers of all levels wish to achieve a better work life balance and as such all law firms need to adapt and be more open to remote working, condensed working hours and various working patterns. By doing this, you could secure top talent for many of your teams.

Many law firms are claiming they are jumping on the flexible working band wagon but are they really? In our fast changing legal market, we know that keeping on top of continuous changes is difficult. However with employee retention becoming a greater challenge and employee’s lists of demands ever growing, it is now crucial for all law firms of all sizes to be aware and keep up with the market trends.

We are happy to provide market updates and advice to law firms. We can provide critical market information for Partners or for the HR team to feed back to Partners and your firm. We are experts in this field of recruitment and our team have been doing it a long time, so please do pick up the phone and pick our brains!

If your firm is looking at resourcing any hard to fill roles and/or you wish to utilise interim lawyers for the up and coming school holidays or due to a spike in work, then please do contact me, Bianca Gibbs on 01179 171 860 for a confidential discussion.

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