Until now Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives have had to put up with legal job titles such as ‘director’, ‘partner status’ and ‘partner equivalent’ but with the introduction of the new legal disciplinary practices set to come into effect on the 1st March 2009 (subject to government approval), Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives will finally be able to become recognised as Partners.
This has come as a great relief to Fellows, as previously it was necessary to convert to a Solicitor before being permitted to become a Partner. There are some drawbacks though, it is up to Law Firms to opt to become LPDs (legal disciplinary practices) – but thankfully some of the top law firms are already favouring this new status so as a fee-earner’s competence, aptitude and client facing skills are paramount rather than some letters after their name. Another advantage is that the LPDs will also give Fellows more credibility, as having the title ‘partner’ on their business cards and being able to use the title when speaking to clients will create much less confusion, eliminating the embarrassment associated with having to explain their legal job title.
So what effect will this have on legal recruitment? If some law firms are opting to become an LDP and are offering partner prospects in their legal job opportunities, firms who do not offer this may see themselves losing legal executives to the firms that do. The LDP status could also serve as a great method of retaining and rewarding legal staff. As with Solicitors, Fellows who show a very high level of technical skill, bill at consistently high levels and also possess a certain je ne sais quoi could be perfect candidates. Law firms who opt for LPD status must also remember to mention the possibility of partner prospects within the firm at interview stage during the legal recruitment process as it would provide a great incentive for talented legal staff.
Certainly from a legal recruitment agency’s perspective, there has been an influx of job openings for Legal Executives – mainly from law firms wanting to cut costs in sight of the credit crunch. However, with the new LDP status set to come into place in March 2009, it will be extremely interesting to see what happens to the number of openings for legal jobs for FILEXs.