With conveyancing job advertisements continuing to climb due to the stamp duty holiday, the government’s new mortgage scheme and overall impact of the pandemic continuing to change the shape of conveyancer’s professional working lives and the market, Dan Bowman, Director of recruitment company, Be Legal Ltd, gave his views and experiences on the conveyancing recruitment field.
“It’s safe to say that the last 12months have been an absolute roller-coaster in legal recruitment – and particularly in Conveyancing – a discipline that’s always at the sharp end of activity and a ‘canary in the mine’ for the wider legal market.
“Initial fears of mass redundancies, then actual redundancies, followed by furlough rescue, then all hands-on deck, panic-stations for the “SDLT holiday” and the subsequent – will he, won’t he extend this nightmare / cash machine “holiday”.
“Demand for fee earner roles have clearly increased and subsequently salaries/bonuses are beginning to rise – this demand is not just in the ever-busy, always recruiting volume conveyancers but now it’s also within all firms that offer a conveyancing service and those firms do offer a real alternative to ‘big-volume-conveyancing’ both for staff and clients.
“Right now, this demand is not always being met by the market – conveyancers may well know their value, yet these are still uncertain times. Is the risk of changing jobs sensible in this environment ? Leave your ok-ish job to go to a better one but then be ‘last in first out’ when SDLT returns?
“Changing jobs ALWAYS carries a risk – but the risk of remaining in an unhappy situation should never be underestimated.
“Once the ‘new-normal’ truly arrives and the dust settles on this COVID-moment – a moment which has truly bought out the best and the worst in all of us including the actions of law firms. In the near future we will see people voting with their feet on how their employer has dealt with the pandemic – those who cynically furloughed like crazy, kicked out key support and non-fee earning staff (admin, Tech/IT, finance, HR, business development etc), forcing staff into the office, not supporting staff WFH, not supporting furloughed staff – all whilst increasing targets, KPIs and pressure on staff, those guys will see their revolving door spin faster.
“As with most things COVID has amplified problems that were already there and forced outcomes which may have remained under the carpet.
“The retention headache from COVID will be felt for a long-time.
“Our advice to conveyancing firm owners and managers is always – look after your good people or someone else will.
“The obvious silver-lining, the flipside is those firms who made the effort to work well towards their staff, treated them like grown-ups and tried to do the right thing – they will be rewarded with loyalty and strong recruitment & retention rates.
“Conveyancers are rightly cautious & savvy when considering a move. When we start working with a new law firm we have always interrogated their figures, their staff-turnover, their background, strategy and ambitions.
“Thankfully, candidates are also asking those questions . In a candidate led market, you are in control and you need to know you’re joining a healthy business, that your future job is part of a strategy not simply to satisfy the SDLT-holiday panic or worse you’re to replace someone who jumped a sinking ship…… be careful out there!”