BCL Legal Recruitment
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Candidate rich market for Commercial Property

As the market for commercial property work continues to boom, there is a seemingly never ending supply of new opportunities for candidates. The good news for recruiting Partners is that the candidate market is also very rich. The amount of interest we have in commercial property roles is growing. It is clear that there is a fantastic supply of interesting candidates to choose from.

Don’t be alarmed you haven’t accidentally stumbled across a blog written in 2010! This is 2016 and contrary to popular belief, there is a fantastic candidate market out there for the right minded commercial property Partner. So how does a recruiting Partner tap into this candidate rich market to grow their stretched, under pressure commercial property team? From our experience, the key seems to be identifying what skill set you really need your candidates to have. Many of our clients can wax lyrical about the type of person that they need; “hard working, forward thinking, bright, willing to learn, commercially minded and able to liaise directly with clients.” This is actually reasonably easy to find.

However, the difficulty is how you establish from a CV that a candidate fulfils these criteria. There seems to be a natural tendency to assume that candidates who are currently employed by top 100 law firms or in Legal 500 ranked teams are more likely to fulfil these criteria. In my experience this is not necessarily true.

We have a host of candidates who are looking to step up from smaller firms or who are looking to transfer across from residential property. Many of whom are hard working, forward thinking, bright, willing to learn, commercially minded and able to liaise directly with clients.We also have a number of examples where candidates from these types of background have been very successful in joining the commercial property teams at much larger law firms. Ultimately we’d like to feel that we have become quite adept at ascertaining whether a candidate has the “x-factor”.

Clearly the transition from small to big or from residential to commercial is easier the more junior a candidate is. Roles at a higher level of PQE usually require a good level of comfort with the technical aspects of the law and probably involve some measure of supervision of more junior team members. Obviously this is difficult to make more if a candidate is coming from a different type of background.

Never the less there is a fantastic pool of people practicing in senior level positions at small firms, for whom a move into a senior or principal associate position at a Tier 1 or 2 firm in Birmingham would represent a significant increase in remuneration. Some of these candidates are interested in making that move but often get overlooked because people make incorrect assumptions about the level of seniority that they will want to move at, their ambitions or how they will effect the hierarchy.

Along a similar theme there are numerous candidates who have operated at Partner level in good sized firms and who are now looking to do something less stressful. Often these candidates are at the more experienced end of the spectrum.

It is sometimes difficult to understand why the recruiting Partner whose team are massively overworked and desperately short of experienced people to supervise juniors, wouldn’t at least meet a candidate like this. Perhaps this individual wont be the ambitious up and comer that you ideally want but they will add a wealth of experience and probably help you develop your junior lawyers quicker. They’ve been there and done that.

In conclusion, recruiting for commercial property solicitors in the current market is as difficult as you want to make it. The candidates are out there, you just have to look outside of “the box”.

Nick Fear
Manager- Private Practice
0121 237 5612

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