Thornton Legal Life

It’s been a busy few months at TL, and before I (Nick) go away on a well-earned family holiday to Majorca on Saturday, I thought I would take some time to pen my thoughts and observations on the year so far.

Firms throughout the North show no signs of slowing down when it comes to recruitment and from high street to large national, the emphasis is on growth.

I am sure we are not alone amongst recruiters, but we have never found ourselves so busy.

Since coming out of 2020, the legal industry appears not to have looked back. Almost all commercial disciplines are thriving and the lack of available candidates, whilst a concern, does not seem to have hindered it thus far.

It’s the same old story of too many jobs and too few lawyers. The relentless struggle to recruit has seen a profound upwards shift in salaries across the region and hybrid/flexible working here to stay.

NQ salaries have been a hot topic of conversation amongst lawyers and recruiters alike. Several large firms with offices in the North West have pushed NQ salaries to £60k +, whilst other firms of similar size have bullishly talked down what they see as unsustainable salary hikes.

What we see is candidates understandably taking advantage of the market to drive their own salaries up, either by demanding parity with solicitors at other firms or taking the plunge and entering the recruitment market.

We have seen candidates working for good quality high street and regional firms doing commercially focused work who have been snapped up by the same law firms who, pre pandemic, would not have looked twice at them. One Corporate Solicitor we know who was offered £30,000 on qualification with the firm he trained at only to join a high-profile national law firm on twice this!

I must say I do share some of the same reservations’ others do about where this will all end up and what will be expected in return for the elevated salaries we are seeing, especially if we see a downward dip in the economy, as predicted by the Bank of England earlier this month.

The increased activity amongst law firms and the knock-on effect in recruitment seems to be in direct contrast to the gloom and frustration of the cost of living crisis and rising interest rates. The fear being that the UK will tip into a slow-burning recession due to a reduction in consumer confidence and spending.

This worry does not appear for now to have affected law firms willingness to recruit or candidates confidence to move. I will be interested to see whether things slow down slightly as the year progresses but I am making no predictions. Law firms have proven much more resilient over the past two years than I ever imagined they would!

Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants today  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career

This week is Thornton Legal’s sixth anniversary, and it’s come around in the blink of an eye. I am also 43 years old tomorrow. Happy birthday to both of us!

It’s fair to say that Thornton Legal is faring better than I am.

There have been tough times (we thought Brexit would cause us problems, then COVID came along!), and episodes of self-doubt (recruitment is mainly disappointment mixed with a magical smattering of success), but Nick and I can honestly say that the past six years have been a huge success.

As a business, I think we fly under the radar. Self-promotion doesn’t come easy to use so you won’t find us humble bragging on social media (after all today’s rooster is tomorrow’s feather duster!), but I will say we have a very heathy business and one Nick and I are proud to have started on the few quid we had saved and the desire to make it work.

We have a lot to be thankful for. A lovely office, fantastic staff and a loyal and constantly growing client base.

In the last few years, we’ve successfully juggled our business responsibilities with hectic home lives. We have two children each all under five, so we are very thankful for the flexibility Thornton Legal gives us. This flexibility to manage our home and personal lives is embedded in our culture, with our team benefitting from it as well.

But, of course, this isn’t it for Thornton Legal. While years zero – six can be stamped ‘success’ and filed away we now have the next six years to focus on and there’s lots we want to achieve in that time.

2022 is set to be a further challenging year for the UK. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID is an unwanted distraction for all law firms, and the business community generally.

In spite of this, there is absolutely cause for optimism. The legal industry has again proved to be impressively resilient, and we want to continue to grow our business by providing a quality recruitment experience to clients and candidates.

We also want to ensure that working for Thornton Legal continues to be fun, flexible and rewarding. 

On behalf of me and Nick, thanks to the Thornton Legal team, our families, clients, candidates and numerous other people who have helped us along the way.

Have an excellent 2022.

The last blog I wrote was in July when I reflected upon recruitment in lockdown and the tentative plans for the remainder of 2020. 3 months further down the line feels like the right amount time to consider again where we are up to as a business and what the market looks like.

I said at the time that I felt that law firms (and legal recruiters) were beginning to come out of hibernation with the country starting to open up again during the summer months.

I am pleased to report that a large number of our client firms took sensible and proportionate decisions to protect their businesses and have come out of the other side relatively unscathed.

Firms with already good IT infrastructures in place were able to transition quickly to home working and a significant number continue to work almost exclusively from home. With the furlough scheme ending at the end of the month, it does appear that many firms have made strategic redundancies, particularly insofar as office based support staff are concerned and the majority of firms bringing a large proportion of furloughed solicitors back to work in some capacity.

Recruitment wise, we have seen a flurry of activity in a number of different disciplines such as residential conveyancing, private client, family, litigation and insolvency. Corporate, commercial and to some extend real estate remain subdued with some firms conducting redundancy exercises across those practice areas.

A common theme amongst candidates has been a reluctance to consider moving firms in the absence of push factors such as redundancy, reduced workload or uncertainty over their firm’s financial viability.

It has been interesting speaking to candidates on how their employers dealt with COVID and the implications on work practices, furlough and issue of communication within the workplace.

I think it is fair to say that there has been a broad spectrum of experience with some feeling as though their firms dealt with the challenges posed in a positive, fair and communicative way particularly when it came to furlough, working from home, temporary pay cuts and restrictions on bonuses. Others have been critical of how their firms have dealt with these challenging issues with a number feeling as if they were excluded from the conversation with ideas and strategy being poorly communicated. We have seen a number of candidates approach us from the latter category feeling disgruntled and assessing their options in the marketplace.

The general consensus from the lawyers that we speak to on the issue of home working is that the initial novelty off spending all of their working week at home has worn off and a move towards a hybrid model involving flexible working and the proportion of the week spent in an office environment seems to be preferable for the majority.

I think that it's fair to say that our own experience at Thornton Legal falls into the same category.

From our own perspective, Joe and I are delighted to have welcomed back our consultants from furlough In August and are reasonably optimistic that's baring any further disastrous lockdowns to the extent that we saw in March, the market will continue to pick up for the remainder of the year. We are relieved that the rather grim forecast we made in April was only temporary with a large number of firms stepping up their recruitment activity in strategic areas.

All the remains is to wish you all the very best for the remainder of 2020 and will post another, hopefully positive,  blog on the state of the market towards the end of the year. All the very best and stay safe.

Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants today  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career. 

With Christmas just around the corner and 2019 drawing to a cold conclusion, I thought I would write up my thoughts on another year here at Thornton Legal.

It does feel as though I was talking about Brexit 12 months ago, anticipating the whole thing concluding during the course of 2019. However, here we are in December and the same thorny issue has provided a spectral backdrop to yet another recruitment year.

I must say that in spite of the political and economic uncertainty, the legal profession, from a recruitment perspective, has proven to be a durable and indefatigable beast.

Lawyers and law firms seem to have risen to the challenge and aside from a fairly flat residential conveyancing market, recruitment into the North West and Yorkshire has been busy.

Almost all the commercial practice areas have been active and the competition for talent across the region has been fierce.

We are seeing areas such as employment, commercial litigation, pensions and banking really thriving whilst at the same time seeing a plateauing of recruitment into sectors such as real estate and other property focused areas.

We have had some comings and goings at Thornton Legal which have kept us on our toes. September saw us recruit, Tim, our first senior hire concentrating solely on the Manchester commercial market from Associate level upwards.

Tim was originally a niche legal recruiter specialising in the pensions market in London but the lure of Chester and an escape from the rat race saw him approach us on account or our location and reputation in the market! He has only been with the business for a matter of months but has made his first placement (a Senior Associate Corporate lawyer) and is making great progress in raising our profile in a competitive and ruthless Manchester market.

Talking of incomings (or is it outgoings), my business partner Joe and his wife (Jo) saw the birth of his second child, Gus, in October, so it’s been a busy old year for us all on a personal and a professional level. 

One of the great things about Thornton Legal is the diversity of clients we recruit for. We enjoy working for large multi-national business in Manchester or Leeds every bit as much as to we our high street clients in Chester or Southport. 

I am pleased to be able to say that it has been a record-breaking year for the business both in terms of the number of candidate placements but also the number of new clients that we have managed to do work on behalf of.

Congratulations to Laura Kate who joined us 14 months ago and has become our highest billing consultant in 2019 whilst at the same time juggling 3 children under the age of 10!

2019 also saw us host or sponsor several successful events for organisations such as Merseyside Junior Lawyers Division, Cheshire and North Wales Junior Lawyers Division, Cheshire Law Society and Cheshire & North Wales Resolution. We got to meet some great lawyers, had fun along the way and made strong connections for the future.

On a SCR/Charity front, we have sponsored fantastic organisations such as Wirral Foodbank, Wirral St John’s Hospice, Clatterbridge Big Lego Brick Hospital and Tam O’Shanter Farm. Please do click on the link for details or our chosen Charites, they do great work on the Wirral, where a number of our team live. 

Joe and I are proud at what we have achieved with the business inside 4 years and are already excited at what 2020 might have to offer. For the next week or so we must navigate the relentless nature of the pre-Christmas madness before shutting the offices on 23rd December to give both us and our team a well-earned break.

So, to our fantastic client and candidates from all the team at Thornton Legal, have a very merry Christmas a suitably reflective New Year and see you all in 2020!

It has been 1 year since I joined Thornton Legal and I can genuinely say it has sped by! As the saying goes “time flies when you are having fun!”.

After 3 years with my last employer (my first role within recruitment), it is daunting making a move and something I thought long and hard over. However, it was by far the best decision that I made and I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Thornton Legal. I settled into things quickly having worked with both my directors Joe and Nick previously and haven’t looked back. They have provided a lot of support while giving me autonomy to get on with the job, and having access to their expertise has been invaluable – Joe and Nick already had a great reputation across the legal market and there is loads of scope for further growth.

I mainly recruit for Solicitors and Paralegals across Chester and Cheshire as well as handling some paralegal roles across Merseyside. It has been great to built up relationships with a lot of new clients that I didn’t work with previously as well as continuing some existing relationships.

No day is really the same which is why I enjoy recruitment so much. I also like a challenge which I guess is a good thing as things do not always run smoothly! A first for me in my recruitment career this year was a Senior Solicitor accepting a job and not showing up for her first day without telling myself or the client (it has happened before with junior candidates but never anyone of this level!).

The highs have outweighed the lows with lots of happy legal professionals placed in new roles. It has been great to see candidates come to me off the back of referrals from both clients and candidates I have previously worked with. My favourite placement has been an NQ Solicitor into her dream firm after meeting at a networking event over a cocktail.

The past year has been very rewarding for me personally as well as for Thornton Legal as a whole and I am looking forward to what 2020 has in store. But first, I am celebrating my first year with Thornton Legal with a weekend abroad with some friends and the last bit of summer for 2019!

To talk anything legal recruitment you can get me on 0151 305 5757 and/ or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

For this blog, I thought I’d move away from recruitment and the law to one of my favourite pastimes and topics; running! I’m not quite a running bore (I hope not anyway), but I do encourage people as best I can to have a go to mixed success…I can but try!

I’ve been running for 10 years or so, dipping in and out depending on my commitments in any given 12 months sometimes running loads and sometimes very little. I’ve done my fair share of organised races from 10k’s through to the London Marathon, and standard wise I’d say I’m average…I’m more than a plodder, but not much more!

I love running for lots of reasons; the personal challenge, the way it clears the mind, the social side and the fact it is really easy to do. Kit on and I’m off!

Thornton Legal has been around for 3 years now and we plan to be around for a lot longer. I’ve run consistently during that time, nothing major just half an hour to an hour here and there. Running a business is stressful and running is my best release. In fact, some of my better ideas have come while out on the roads and trails. I’ve even managed to get Nick my co – Director involved, and he can now be found regularly running along the Liverpool waterfront or the Wirral.

Finding time to run more recently has been a challenge. I have a toddler and a baby on the way in July so I’m trying to be creative about finding the time. I’ve been pondering organising an informal running group for a while and, as the weather is on the up, I thought this week would be the time to getting the ball rolling.

Liverpool is such a great city for running, particularly along the waterfront, so I’ve put the feels out on Linkedin to the Liverpool business community to see if anyone would be interested in joining me for a weekly lunchtime 5k. All very informal with the only aim being to get changed, run, showered and back to the desk in an hour. I did a test run today and it’s definitely possible!

I’m thinking of starting next Wednesday so, if you’re interested in joining us, keep an eye out on my Linkedin feed and comment!

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Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants today  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.