UK Private Practice Market Conditions Report
Ruminations on where we are at the moment from a
recruitment perspective by Pete Fellows.
I have not written a report on the market for a while so
this is probably long overdue. In this
article I have concentrated on the current conditions within the UK private
practice market. In no particular order
and from my own personal perspective, these are the things you might need to
concern yourself with/be pleased about just at the moment.
are seemingly no Electronics Patent Attorneys looking for new jobs
are loads of jobs for Electronics Patent Attorneys
Ok, a lot of you probably know this already (an idle
glance at the Journal does support this view) but from a firm’s perspective the
issue is more dire than it was 6 months or a year ago. Why? Well mostly because more firms need
people and the majority are looking for the same candidate profile (newly
qualified up to 3-4 years post qualified Associate). It is not uncommon at all for candidates in
the right skills/experience range to achieve several offers and yet for many
firms accommodating candidates outside of quite narrow parameters appears
difficult. This can be because creating
partnership positions in the immediate future is problematic, so firms are
reluctant to hire people where this is an expectation, or that due to fairly
rigid remuneration structures it remains difficult to pay people what they want
without having a revolt on ones hands from existing associates. And because much of the demand has been
created by an increase in work in which many of the cases Partners haven’t the
time to train people, recruiting part qualified candidates is often not an
I have in the past been accused of writing these articles
to increase demand and promote the use of recruiters, suggesting that ‘it’s a
great time to look for a job’. Whilst I
would of course argue that using a recruiter to look for a job is a profitable
strategy, I feel my view has always been more complex than this simplified
interpretation supposes. So, and to be
clear, it is not necessarily a great time to look for a job. As my comments above imply, if you have
qualified recently and have a technical background that could broadly be
described as ‘electronics’ then yes, go for it, we can have you a variety of
options to choose from in a remarkably speedy time frame. But, if you are moving because you have been
overlooked for partnership or have not had the support you wanted in training
then there is not necessarily the abundance of choice one might presume. The closer your salary is to six figures the
more difficult it gets, unless you can guarantee a client following of some
kind. Firms are highly reluctant to
consider candidates at this level unless their backgrounds are truly
remarkable. There will of course be some
options but you will need to work with your recruiter to maximise your chances
(or if you shun recruiters and apply directly you will need persistence and
patience). For part qualified
candidates, there is better news in so much that firms are starting to consider
this option a little more because of the dearth of qualified candidates but you
still do not have a voucher to pick any chocolate in the chocolate shop.
For firms, the more flexible you can be in your
requirements the more likely you are to fill positions. Whether you use one recruitment company or
several, on a headhunt campaign or a ‘no win, no fee’ model, looking for the
same candidates as everyone else means that you will have to be better in order
to stand out to candidates who have an abundance of options. As many applicants have their own subjective
criteria to categorise what they see as the ‘best’ firm, it is a difficult task
to be at the top of everyone’s list.
Mechanical Engineering Renaissance?
In previous ruminations I have lamented the decline in
mechanical engineering jobs but recently there are signs of a recovery. I would like to include some well thought out
analysis as to why this is but to be honest I have no idea and can only report
that it is undoubtedly a trend. There
are still issues for senior candidates similar to those for electronics
candidates but for part qualified and recently (up to 3 years or so post)
qualified there has been a marked increase in instructions to us from our
clients. I don’t want to appear to be
claiming that this is some sort of boom in demand, it is perhaps a spike – it’s
too early to tell if it will continue or that it’s just been an unusual few
months. But yes (and in anticipation of
a barrage of criticism) it appears it might just be a good time to consider
There has not been a great deal of change for
biotechnology Patent Attorneys of late.
There are limited opportunities, some firms are recruiting but there is
certainly not a great deal of choice.
There doesn’t appear to be much sign of improvement either so this might
be as good as it gets for a while. If
you were to decide to move jobs then expect at best a couple of interviews from
different firms. For firms, it appears
that candidates are aware of market conditions in many instances so it might
not be as easy to find people as one might anticipate, but it is certainly
possible to recruit good people.
With the exception of chemical engineering where there
has been a flutter of activity, the rest of the market has flatlined. There are few opportunities and firms don’t
appear to be looking for chemists by and large.
If you were planning on recruiting in chemistry then you would likely
find a range of great candidate options, however I don’t think the candidates
themselves need to be in any particular rush to move as there is little
indication that demand will increase soon.
Ok we have been crazy busy in trade mark recruitment
recently and candidates who have been looking for jobs for a while are suddenly
finding that they have firms to choose between.
We have advertised on the ITMA jobs board 4 times in the last few months
which is more than we have done in a long time and we have both a selection of
candidates to offer firms who are seeking new blood and a range of options to
discuss with these candidates. It’s a
perfect storm of recruitment and for us is probably the most fun of all our
markets at the moment (in the sense that we can satisfy everyone’s requirements
Whatever the technical discipline it remains very
difficult to move positions at Partner or Senior Associate level unless you
have a client following. The vast
majority of recruitment is happening at the newly qualified to three years post
qualified level. Electronics is clearly
a booming area and moving jobs can be incredibly easy and rewarding if you meet
the prerequisites. There is an overall
mixed picture; in some areas the demand for candidates far outstrips the supply
whilst in others the opposite is true.
Pete Fellows is the Managing Director of Fellows and
Associates and is currently holding a ‘Golf Sale’ style sign outside
Chancery Lane Tube with the legend, ‘Electronics Patent Attorneys Required’. His arms hurt.