Representation in a Chaotic Costs Market

Posted in News on 5 Mar 2018

Following ongoing and significant changes to legislation and insurance premiums it is no surprise to those working within costs as well as those in the wider legal sector that the market is more chaotic than ever. In what has been branded as a revolution, dramatic alterations in practice and the implementation of these changes have been extensively felt across the sector.

The Jackson Reform Effect 

Known to the overwhelming majority of legal professionals, the high profile and long anticipated introduction of fixed costs as a result of the Jackson reforms is one such change. Deemed seismic and controversial, Lord Justice Jackson’s recommended reforms were first introduced in April 2013 and have generated a huge revision of the Personal Injury legal framework. The first wave of recommended reforms aimed at tackling ‘disproportionate’ civil litigation costs in order to improve proportionality, accessibility and efficiency have had ongoing consequences and varied responses. Furthermore, it has recently been announced that on Jackson’s advice the government will set up a working group of legal representatives to develop a process around fixing recoverable costs for more complex Clinical Negligence claims valued up to £25,000. There is no doubt that over the years Jackson’s suggestions have cast a continual shadow on the legal landscape, bringing the issue of fixed costs to the forefront of the debate and sparking practical action into the matter.

Electronic Bill of Costs

Another huge and looming development is the introduction of the new Electronic Bill of Costs. Originally intended for implementation in late 2017, the new compulsory format replaces the current paper bill on the 6th of April 2018. For some, the modernisation of a system that has its historical roots in Victorian practice is long awaited. Courts and firms will need to prepare for a far-reaching digital transformation, facilitating IT improvements (where needed) across the board. Simplifying the preparation process, the new spreadsheet-based format should automatically recalculate totals following data changes, clearly display all formula and calculations, and present each phase of work completed in a chronological order.


Factors such as the current review of the ACL course have also contributed to this turbulence. The qualification enabling costs professionals to qualify as Lawyers has added pressure for clients and candidates alike to be at the top of their game when it comes to developing and retaining staff. With this in mind, firms performing their own costs work will need to be attracting talent with up to date costs experience as well as those that can pass on knowledge to existing costs teams.

With an industry known for its characters, we take a hands-on approach when registering costs candidates. To ensure we get to the core of an applicant’s motivations, career aspirations and background this includes thorough working history reviews and, where possible, face to face interviews.

As clients diversify and adapt to a changing market they are equally seeking like-minded ambitions candidates. At this crucial time, the benefit of representation by an experienced recruitment consultant with excellent relationships with respected clients nationally is invaluable and nothing shy of a prerequisite for landing a new role in arguably the most competitive legal market.

Talent Pool

According to the data we crunched to produce our 2018 Salary and Benefits Benchmarker, the Law Costs talent pool contains one of the largest percentage of passive job seekers than any other practice area.

39% of Law Costs Professionals will not be looking to change jobs in the next 6 months. This is low compared to say Personal Injury at 46%, Property at 53%, Private Client at 54% and Crime at 47%. On the face of it this may suggest that Law Costs Lawyers are more unsettled than most. However, only 24% are actively looking to change jobs; which is similar to all the previously mentioned save in Criminal where 34% are active on the job market.

37% of Costs Lawyers are sitting on the fence, what us legal recruitment consultants would describe as passive job seekers in that they would likely move into another law costs job if it ticked all the boxes; progression, money etc. Compare that to the passive talent pool in Personal Injury that comes in 29%, Property and Private Client both at 24% and Criminal at 19%.

If you would like to know a bit more about the law costs recruitment landscape then do not hesitate to contact me Luke Whatmough, National Law Costs Specialist at Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment. Call me in confidence on 0161 233 6360 or email . I am here 5 days a week and lunch between 12.30 and 1.30.

Luke Whatmough

Principal Associate: Head of Costs and Yorkshire Private Practice
0161 233 6360

Luke joined Douglas Scott in 2016 leading the Master Vendor team. He now heads up Legal Costs recruitment on a nationwide basis for the National Insurance desk. He deals with a range of clients including leading specialist costs practices and top tier law firms. Luke has previous recruitment experience account managing an international desk with a focus on Personal Injury. He undertook Law Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and regularly participates in charity events concerning young men’s mental health in his spare time.

"I would like to express my gratitude to Luke Whatmough for the service he has provided. He made the process of applying for a job so much easier with his friendly manner and prompt replies. He has remained professional and welcoming. 

He specifically ensured that I was well prepared for the interview and contacted me prior to the interview to ensure that I was OK, which gave me peace of mind. After getting the job due to unforeseen circumstances, I encountered difficulties with my notice period. Luke spoke to the HR manager of my new employers directly and ensured that they were able to accommodate for me. 

Overall, it has been a great experience and a friendly personality is always a bonus."

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