At the start of 2014 our plan was to have two consultants purely focused on commercial property, corporate, commercial, banking, employment, commercial litigation, tax and pensions recruitment in the Midlands. Such has been the success this year that as we enter 2015 BCL Birmingham will now boast a team of 5 consultants purely focused on recruitment into these areas of law. This is in addition to 2 dedicated in-house consultants for the Midlands.
The booming demand for qualified solicitors in commercial property, corporate, commercial litigation and banking have particularly driven this growth. We have seen something approaching a 200% increase in instructions related to positions in these disciplines over the last 12 months. Against this back drop BCL Legal have filled a higher percentage of positions and increased our market share, again.
To put this in context this means that we have more consultants focused on placing qualified solicitors into commercial property, corporate, commercial, banking, employment, commercial litigation, tax, pensions and in-house positions than our closest two competitors have covering all legal vacancies for qualified solicitors in the Midlands – combined.
Every one of our consultants in the commercial team are massively above their targets. We are filling more roles than anyone else.
We envisage continuing strong demand for solicitors from commercial property, corporate, commercial, commercial litigation, construction and banking teams next year. Trading conditions for international, FTSE listed, PLC, OMB and SME businesses remain strong which should lead to high levels of work for law firms of all shapes and size.
The only slight surprise this year has been a virtual stagnation of salaries paid by private practices. The rates on offer have remained behind those in-house which has prompted a bit of an exodus of talented commercial solicitors. Some firms have altered their bonus structures to reflect financial performance, with guaranteed bonus for hours billed. This has helped to mitigate things a little. However, the overwhelming feeling is that the stagnation cannot continue. Our candidates are looking for guaranteed salary, not potential earnings from bonus’.
The situation is most pressing in commercial property where most teams in Birmingham are recruiting. Therefore, we can surmise that they are busy and that the people they have are working harder to compensate. The market is candidate short. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that unless salaries go up there is a real risk of haemorrhaging staff.
The gap in salaries between traditional tier 1 and tier 2 firms is tiny. In fact there are a number of national practices in Birmingham who pay slightly more than international practices. Many candidates are asking themselves why they should work longer hours for less or the same money.
For these reasons, it is envisaged that salaries at the largest firms will have to rise next year.
Candidates should find 2015 to be a year of opportunity. Partners in busy teams are becoming more flexible in who they will consider to fill their positions. The chances for people from small firms to step up and secure positions with large firms are increasing almost daily. Certainly those trainees qualifying in 2015 should have a plethora of choices before them.
Equally those frustrated Associates looking to get on the Partnership ladder need not continue to wait. 2014 has been the best year since the recession and 2015 will be better yet. Make sure that it is your best ever year.