Every January, we compile all our data from the previous year to gather insights into the legal job market and how it is evolving.

Below we take a look at key insights into our 2018-19 Annual Report.


Key Insights

  • Between 2018 and 2019, Solicitor roles have been the most popular category of jobs added to the site, comprising 44.7% of the total figure
  • In 2019, 5,654 jobs were posted to Simply Law Jobs every month
  • The Simply Law Jobs candidate database grew by 12.9% from 2018 to 2019
  • We found that Partner roles had the highest salary of the jobs posted on Simply Law Jobs during 2019
  • The average Partner salary advertised on Simply Law Jobs was £90,415
  • Simply Law Jobs records show that 60% of those browsing our jobs pages in 2019 were female


Challenges to the Industry

 While the global staffing and recruiting industry is optimistic about 2020, this year has brought some challenges related to hiring and operations within the legal industry, as well as macroeconomics and politics, that will likely create some challenges for firms or organisations recruiting skilled lawyers in the following year.

The talent shortage continues to afflict the global staffing and recruiting industry. Brexit, when it
happens, will have a profound impact on the global economy, as plans move ahead for the UK to
withdraw from the European Union. Another general election raised eyebrows in the UK, and after the Conservatives won an 80-seat majority, MPs have backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for the UK to leave the EU on 31st January – however the destination to a conclusion is still some way off, and the risk of a no-deal Brexit is again on the table.*

Recruiters have also raised concerns that employers are less willing to part with their money when it comes to hiring – for example, accelerating pay increases to match average benchmarks within the industry to compete in a candidate-driven market – this ultimately makes it harder to do this.
Targeting passive candidates remains a challenge – according to The Undercover Recruiter, passive talent are 120% more likely to make an impact on your business, whilst 33% are more likely to be seeking challenging work. Posting a job advert online and expecting hundreds of applications to roll in is no longer an option.

A lack of time and resources on a recruiter’s part continues to hinder the industry – finding time to conduct CV searches is a hurdle for hiring professionals, as well as freeing up the day to screen
candidates in detail. The industry is under pressure to find top lawyers, and we believe the following trends must be taken into consideration for organisations preparing their recruitment strategy in 2020.


Talent Shortage & Employee Loyalty

A shortage of skilled and experienced candidates is an ongoing challenge for recruiters. Employees are leaving their current place of work quickly (our studies say the average period of time for millennials to spend at one job is two years or less), and if workers haven’t quit yet, they’re already considering their next move.

Strategies must be put in place to reskill or update employee skills.
We believe this is necessary for retention as well as attraction – career development is important to aspiring individuals. Talent shortage is a problem, but reskilling and developing your workforce is a huge opportunity.


Targeting Passive Candidates

We highlighted targeting passive candidates in our 2018 annual report, and this remains a challenge for hiring professionals. CV databases, Search Engine Optimisation, social media and Pay-Per-Click are just some of the areas organisations are investing more money in, to draw the interest of workers who aren’t actively searching for a new role, but would consider an attractive one, should it land at their feet.


Salary & Benefits

We as recruiters are operating in a candidate driven market, where employees are quitting their jobs in search of a more challenging role, which also offers a better salary and other benefits.
Yet, a constant concern for anyone hiring is the frustration of being nudged out for top talent due to competitors offering a better salary for a similar role.

Generous remuneration packages and benefits attract skilled workers, so by increasing compensation ranges to open roles, it is possible to attract the best, before losing out in the later stages of the recruitment process where time, money and effort is wasted. Budget does of course limit a number of organisations – this simply isn’t an option for many.


Lack of Time & Resource

Again highlighted in our previous report, the increase in admin processes has placed a strain on delivering recruitment needs. Finding the time to conduct a search for candidates, sifting through mounds of unsuitable applications and screening them can consume a large part of the day.

Recruiters are repeatedly concerned about the lack of time and resource they have to find the right person for the job. New technologies, however, like applicant tracking systems (ATS) are becoming increasingly attractive to those who have little time for the hiring process – these systems also allow the capability to receive more quality applications.


High Turnover

We discussed earlier the trend of employees leaving their jobs sooner today than in previous years. The challenge for recruiters is the need to avoid high churn rates entirely, so therefore the pressure to hire quality individuals, and keep them happy is heightened. Organisations who don’t invest in developing careers and strong relationships with employees could suffer high staff turnover.


Embracing Digital Transformation

While it provides opportunity, digitisation was suggested as one of the biggest operational challenges by recruiters. Despite evidence to suggest that it can advance the human workforce by eliminating lower level tasks, many are still unwilling to embrace automation.


Brexit & the Economy

The legal industry has consistently advocated against leaving the EU without a deal, as this will cause serious disruption for individuals and businesses, and decrease opportunities for the profession itself. The Law Society in particular has echoed its priorities, one of them being continued mutual access for lawyers to practise and base themselves in the UK and EU member states, with rights of audience in EU courts.

Changes to legislation may mean that some areas of law will be completely altered. For instance, a lot of UK employment law comes from European directives.

Upon leaving the European Union, the UK will be able to choose whether to wipe the slate clean or keep select parts of the existing law.

Law firms are businesses themselves and have to plan for the potential effects of Brexit just like
their clients. EU directives play a big role in how law firms operate in the UK. For instance, EU
legislation allows US firms to open offices in EU jurisdiction and permits UK lawyers to plea before
the European Court of Justice.

It is likely that these privileges will disappear once the UK leaves the EU and consequently some law firms will be gradually reducing the size of their UK offices, or relocating some lawyers to EU jurisdiction.

As of Summer 2019, employers were still experiencing a high proportion of hard-to-fill vacancies as a result of Brexit. Of organisations advertising vacancies, 67% reported they were having difficulty in filling some of them. This is compared to 51% during Spring 2017.

Apart from increasing salaries to attract staff, employers can introduce more inclusive recruitment practices, build on their employee offer through non-financial benefits and enhance their brand in order to address the difficulties placed on recruitment by Brexit.

Incentives like flexible working and career development are highly valued by jobseekers today, and could be the starting point in helping organisations to both recruit and retain the people who have the skills they require.

Of course, we still do not know what the overall outcome of Brexit will be in terms of the deal agreed.

*Subject to change, written January 2020

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