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Being an in-house temp has never been so lucrative! Rising day rates and an abundance of contract work...
Coinciding with a lack of talent at the junior-mid level, we are seeing a steady increase in the volume of temporary assignments being taken up by lawyers with experience in advance of the stated level of PQE and above the initial budgeted salary.
Most employers come to market with a budget and PQE range in mind for a particular hire. They benchmark the role, assess the level and work involved, and then seek the monies needed to make the hire. Increasingly however, clients are having to reassess their budget upwards to ensure they make the necessary hire to fill a temporary / project role.
Why are employers struggling to recruit?
In 2018 I have personally worked a dozen or so interim roles and in almost every case the client (recruiting manager / company) has struggled to identify the talent required at the price point / salary initially set. So why is this?
1 – Employers are unrealistic about the level of person and salary they are likely to attract, and are failing to recognise the buoyant employment market. We are no longer operating in a candidate rich market and there are other good jobs out there;
2 – There is plenty of permanent work for junior-to-mid level commercial lawyers which means temporary lawyers at this level are rare. Junior-to-mid level lawyers are massively in demand and they tend to seek security, thus favouring permanent roles over something temporary;
3 – Most interim lawyers are senior individuals with at least 15 years’ PQE. These individuals are usually more costly and beyond the initial budget set by the client;
4 – Employers, particularly those in-house, struggle to communicate / convince the FD/MD/Directors/HR etc. about the required budget for an interim legal role. Many clients benchmark against comparable roles in their business and/or seek to pay the interim solicitor a salary equivalent (when annualised) to the annual salary of the person they are covering;
5 – Employers move too slowly and /or have overly complicated recruitment processes, a particularly onerous problem when trying to compete for scarce talent in the interim market. A problem with permanent recruitment processes too, employers simply don’t have the luxury of procrastinating when looking to hire, particularly for time sensitive roles;
6 – Interim lawyers often require flexibility – such as home working / early or late start/finish time / number of days etc. - and so inflexible clients can lose out;
7 – Clients focus too heavily on industry / sector fit and/or specific legal experience at the expense of cultural / personality fit. The number of potential applicants for interim roles tends to be significantly lower than those for permanent hires, thus clients cannot be too prescriptive. Relevant legal knowledge, the right cultural / personality fit, proven experience and an interest in the role/company should be the primary considerations;
There has never been a better time to be a contractor in the legal sector. A scarcity of junior-to-mid level talent has created a double upshot for interim lawyers. It has helped create more opportunities, particularly for senior temps who in the past might have struggled, whilst at the same time it has pushed up the average daily rate. Where once the average temp rate was circa £350 per day (Limited Co.), we are regularly seeing temp’s working at £450-500 per day (Limited Co.).
Should you be interested in interim opportunities, or should your company need a temporary lawyer, or indeed should you just require further information, please do not hesitate to contact Craig Wilson at BCL Legal.