Conveyancing jobs continue to climb

Conveyancing job advertisements continue to rise since Today’s Conveyancer started tracking them in the summer of 2020. The stamp duty holiday, the government’s new mortgage scheme and overall impact of the pandemic, continues to change the shape of conveyancer’s professional working lives and the market.

Today’s Conveyancer has been monitoring the job search site, Indeed, with figures showing a huge increase of conveyancing job posts since July 2020.

We approached legal recruitment companies to fathom their views and experiences on whether there has been a huge demand from conveyancers wanting to employ. And in terms of the kind of candidates they are seeking, whether this has adapted over the last 12 months and if firm’s recruitment process has changed and any challenges/obstacles they have encountered.

Joe Connolly, Director & Head of Legal Recruitment at Capio Recruitment said:

“The Conveyancing recruitment market has looked like a roller coaster over the past 12 months. In April 2020, as you would expect, there was a dramatic fall in the number of vacancies coming on to the market. By August 2020, and mainly thanks to the stamp duty changes, we then took on a record number of vacancies from clients all over the UK looking to bolster their conveyancing teams.

“We saw some hesitation and a slight pause in this recruitment activity in the build up to March, but since the stamp duty deadline extension and the introduction of government backed 5% mortgages, we have again seen a huge surge in vacancies. Our Conveyancing candidates are often receiving several job offers and we are seeing this competition to hire Conveyancers driving salaries upwards for the first time in years. There has never been a better time for Conveyancers to negotiate a higher salary when moving jobs than right now.

“There has been another interesting shift in terms of what Conveyancers are looking for from a new role. Pre-covid, many of the Conveyancers we worked with favoured a more traditional, often paper-based approach to working. However, since we have all seen the benefits of home/ flexible-working, many Conveyancers are now seeking to join modern Conveyancing practices with paperless case management systems and a flexible approach to work.”

Dan Bowman, director at Be Legal Ltd commented. He said:

“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?

George Sanderson, Senior Recruitment Consultant and Team Leader at JMC Legal Recruitment added:

“Many law firms rely heavily on property law and residential conveyancing as the foundation of their practice. With the downturn in March 2020, it was quite clear to see the impact and ‘dip’ this had for law firms and in turn, recruitment – not only within property law but law firms and other practice areas overall.

“The major and most prominent uplift in demand for us has been for Residential Conveyancers. Since the stamp duty holiday and extension, for live vacancies, this has been our busiest practice area and we are seeing recruitment at a level that was prior to the pandemic across the board.

“This uplift has been at all levels, but a particularly noticeable increase and desire for junior and newly-qualified Solicitors, which was less the case prior to March 2020.

“From a recruitment perspective, the hiring process has actually been a lot more streamlined. The use of video calls, and the ability to speak with several law firms from the comfort of home has been a revolution that was not utilised effectively prior to the pandemic but will most certainly be here to say – I suspect for first round interviews primarily.

“There have been challenges we have encountered over the last 12 months, one has been the onboarding process for many law firms with the guidance to work from home. Particularly with junior candidates, many law firms would like candidates to work from the office, at least at first. Whilst this is certainly not unreasonable, balancing candidates expectations for initial home working and flexibility with law firms has been a challenge in some cases for many reasons – whether this be personal, living with vulnerable family members and more.”

Clare Traverse, Legal Recruitment Consultant at Origin Legal Ltd further added:

“In the last 3 months vacancies in real estate that we have been notified of in legal private practice have doubled from 178 in the preceding 3 months to 342. With a significant uplift in the number of law firms recruiting Planning and Construction lawyers this demand is clearly set to remain for some time to come.

“In the last quarter of 2020, we experienced a massive increase in the demand for Residential conveyancers at all levels in the North West, London, the South East, Home Counties, East Anglia the South West and the Midlands. Initially this was thought to almost wholly down to the Stamp Duty holiday, but it was also fuelled by the high number of people who would have moved earlier but for the Pandemic and perhaps more significantly by people looking to take full advantage of the working from home opportunity. The pandemic has continued and driven the appeal of moving out of major cities and population centres. This has ignited the property market and conveyancers at all levels are in demand.

“Law firms have adapted remarkably well to remote working and this has carried over seamlessly to remote recruitment interviewing enabling the once lengthy recruitment process to be reduced to a few days. We have been advising law firms and candidates on the pitfalls and inherent difficulties in conducting interviews using video software and in starting a new role under lockdown restrictions.

“With working from home, a major part of any new role, the travel to work distance has increased giving law firms access to a far greater talent pool and giving candidates a greater choice of jobs. However, if you live and work in rural UK but your office is in London you may not find the salary carries a London weighting any more.

Hayley Hellon, Licensed Conveyancer, Head of Legal Practice and Operations at ProConveyancing talks about recruitment from a law firm’s point of view. She said:

“recruitment has significantly changed following the proven ability for a conveyancer to work remotely. This enables firms, such as ours at ProConveyancing to broaden our search nationwide rather than just in the local area. It also allows more flexibility with hours so working parents for example can adapt their working day to suit school drop offs and pickups which is certainly something we would consider in our recruitment process. It is a challenging time for recruitment for us at the moment as a newly launched firm as there are so many long standing firms also recruiting. We are always seeking out new talent to help us scale the business’

Due to the huge influx of conveyancing job adverts, Today’s Conveyancer approached legal mental health charity, Lawcare, to comment on the wellbeing of the sector. Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive of LawCare said:

“We know that conveyancers are under huge amounts of pressure at the moment. Many are feeling overwhelmed with the volume of work, they are feeling isolated at home and often have little or no supervision. Those contacting LawCare increasingly cite stress and anxiety as the reason for getting in touch. We would encourage all conveyancers to check out the Be Kind We Care initiative recently launched by the Conveyancing Foundation, and to contact LawCare if you need support on 0800 279 6888, [email protected] or via our website www.lawcare.org.uk

Today's Conveyancer