According to the Legal Firm of Choice Satisfaction Report 2016, 47.8 per cent of all legal professionals surveyed said they would not go to a recruitment firm if they were looking to shake up their career.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Eliza Kirkby, regional director at Hays Recruitment, said this result was somewhat unexpected but could be due to legal professionals' own personal networks.
“This is somewhat surprising given candidates who are in the market could be missing out on opportunities that are not openly advertised by employers for various, and often confidential, reasons,” Ms Kirkby said.
“An explanation for this may be that lawyers tend to build their own networks and feel that they will be able to rely on those connections to source their own opportunities.
“Increasingly we are seeing many more senior candidates reaching out to us, as there are fewer opportunities in the market at their level. These candidates tend to be more open to contract roles that our clients find difficult to source for at short notice, and this is a trend that is likely to continue.”
Despite this result, the report also showed that 63.7 per cent of approaches to legal professionals were made by recruiters in 2016, up 9.6 percentage points from the corresponding period last year.
“This isn’t surprising in light of the fact that the legal sector is generally a candidate-short market, particularly at the mid-level experience level, i.e. 4 to 7 years PQE,” Ms Kirkby said.
“Employers are increasingly seeking candidates with particular experience levels to fit a very specified or narrow brief, and these candidates aren’t always actively searching for opportunities.
“As a result, employers are turning to agencies to assist with the recruitment of these ‘hard to fill’ positions in order to access a wider pool of candidates who have registered their interest in hearing about roles.”
The research for the Legal Firm of Choice Satisfaction Report 2016 was conducted during June and July 2016, with participants asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire via an online portal.
The questionnaire asked legal professionals how satisfied they are in their current role, which factors would be important in their decision to move firms, which firms they deem most attractive and which, if any, recruiters they may use for this process.
In total, 1,864 responses were received, with the data validation process resulting in a total usable sample of 1,561 legal professionals.
Correction: The original version of this article suggested the majority of legal professionals are unlikely to engage a recruiter. This is incorrect and has been amended to reflect the correct amount, being almost half of legal professionals.