Legal Jobs

Sunday, August 9th, 2009 - Job Application, job search, Legal, professionalism, recruitment

Legal Jobs

Legal London 166

I keep saying it, and I keep meaning it: in this recession, there are jobs out there, there are people getting employed, and there are sectors desperate for talent.

But reading the newspapers today, the difference between sectors which are skills short and those which are currently over resourced can all be found in one sector: Legal Jobs

The sectors which are believed to be economic bell weathers, independent of the economy, are: medical, accountancy and the law. However, what the detail brushes by is much as though the overall a sector may not be affected, the particular specialisations may, in the short to medium turn, take a hit. Taking legal jobs as our example, the effect in this recession has been to hit the numbers and hence rates of remuneration in legal jobs associated with housing, property and take overs; and replaced them with jobs in bankruptcy, insolvency and divorce.

Legal degree

What always surprises me when colleges and universities are providing career guidance to students, is to make sure they have a balance of skills in their portfolio. Most law graduate courses, students specialise in one or two areas, and have up to two areas which are sub-prime supporting areas of study. Most colleges – to make life easier for themselves – actually create their course schedule around these preferred grouping options. The result? A series of students who specialise in key areas, some chosen on financial grounds as certain areas of law take longer to qualify in and hence those student loans take longer to pay back, as opposed to those with balanced skill portfolios.

The simple answer is, you can specialise when you get to law school, but in university or college now is not the time to make a life long career decision. For instance, as the number of women entering the profession is rising – a good thing – the number of qualified solicitors in family law and conveyancing is rising. The result? A drop in pricing over the last 10 years of over 50%.

When choosing your college and university specialist subjects for the final year, think balanced portfolio of (economic) skills. Secondly, don’t dismiss anything which might take a year or two longer in which to qualify: the longer it takes, the more it pays, the greater the resilience of that pay level in changing economic conditions.

Law Jobs in London

The legal chambers One Essex Court in the Temple, has made four offer to barrister students of £60,000 a year for their two-year training period starting in October 2010, compared with the £45,000 that it offered this year – as much as the base salary of an MP, before they even qualify. Students will be aged 23/24, and have completed a degree and the one-year Bar vocational training course.

Darren Burrows, senior clerk at the chambers, said:

“We have been extremely successful in recruiting many of the best individuals coming to commercial Bar, year on year, for some time now.

Our clients understand the selection process here and that knowledge gives them considerable reassurance when selecting counsel from within our ranks.

Our pupillage award recognises the very high quality of potential applicants. We already attract the very best and you could say — ‘so why increase the award?’ We feel that this will ensure that our awards remain at the top end and that they reflect the very high quality of people we recruit.

It is a very small investment when you consider what they will be capable of earning in future years.”

What are other chambers offering? Fountain Court and 39 Essex Street is offering £40,000, and Brick Court Chambers is offering £42,000. Freshfields solicitors, one of the magic circle of London based legal groups, is offering trainee solicitors pays its trainees £39,000. London-based American law firm Debevoise & Plimpton pays £82,000 a year to its newly qualified lawyers.

The Law Society says that the average salary for a trainee solicitor across all regions in England and Wales is £23,865, with male trainees paid, on average, 8 per cent more than women.The minimum salary for trainees in law firms is now £18,590 and outside London £16,650.

Legal severance

Last year, London’s biggest law firm Linklaters undertook a restructuring exercise, making 200 people redundant: 100 junior lawyers, and 100 support staff. However, it now seems as did not proceed in its restructuring as defined by the law: it is reported that 200 staff taking legal action. Linklaters provided a severance package of up to five months’ salary plus three weeks’ pay for every year at the firm, where junior lawyers earn between £66,000 and £120,000, depending on experience

Legal action relating to redundancy involving claims of unfair dismissal, carry a maximum award of £66,000. Dismissal claims can include allegations of discrimination — for example on the grounds of sex or race — in which there is no limit to potential damages. Claims must be brought within three months of dismissal.

It should be noted, that in the legal profession as both staff and legal firms generally don’t want their names dragged through the courts or be brought up in front of a professional miss conduct body, normally these events unless they involve some form of discrimination are handled and resolved quietly behind the scenes.


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