Recently our recruitment agency has experienced an incident with a solicitors firm we expect to see in The Law Society Gazette in about 2 years time for lots of dodgy dealings and raids on the client account. This is what happened:
The Case Background
About 2 years ago we introduced a candidate, a conveyancing solicitor to a solicitors firm in the south of England. This was for a locum position, and the hourly rate agreed was extremely low and much reduced off the usual locum rate. The solicitor who took the role indicated that he was happy to accept at this level and duly went ahead. We started billing but after about 2 months the firm advised us that they had moved the candidate on to a permanent arrangement as a consultant, and therefore could they please pay us monthly at the rate that this particular locum was getting. We contacted the locum to ask if this was correct and he duly confirmed that the rate being indicated was the right one, and he was getting paid the rate the firm had indicated to us.
Fast forward 10 months and although we had been very surprised at the level indicated, which was about £22,000 for a 20 year qualified solicitor, the firm got in touch with us to advise us that they had had to dismiss the candidate for gross misconduct and he had immediately left and therefore they were not paying any more of our invoices, which were still being done on a monthly arrangement at a figure we did not quite believe, as it was fairly unbelievable.
We contacted the candidate and the client to get details of the actual income that had been paid, and the candidate confirmed to us that the levels he had initially indicated were correct and the firm indicated to us that the level we had invoiced at was correct as well.
The firm then got in touch to advise us that they were not even going to pay our last couple of invoices due to the incompetence of the candidate, and that they were distinctly unhappy with him and us for the atrocious work he had given them, and the difficulties he had left them with when he had departed.
All in all this had been a very bad experience, and all the way through the process we had been very suspicious as to exactly what was happening, and also what payments were being made to the locum solicitor by the firm as they were clearly not the levels the firm or the solicitor were indicating to us.
One of the problems with doing work like recruitment and with locums is that we are very dependent on law firms and solicitors to give us accurate figures that reflect the true position.
Most solicitors and law firms are honest and genuine business people with no desire at all to inflict fraud on anybody, but there are those out there who are very happy to try and get out of everything and avoid payment wherever possible.
Although on this occasion there was nothing we could do and we just accepted that quite possibly we had just been ripped off by the firm, we fast forward to the present day and the locum registered to work with us again.
A Reference Request to a Firm who have Sacked Me – is he for real?
And here’s where everything gets a little bit unusual, because the locum gives the senior partner of the solicitors firm who has asked him to leave for gross misconduct as his reference. Not only that, the senior partner of the law firm gets back to us to confirm that he was very happy with the work done by the locum whilst he was with the firm, and that he would recommend him to others for locum work. You can imagine our surprise at receiving this, because we had not been paid for the last couple of months the candidate was there because of his gross misconduct, but here we are some time later getting a reference from the firm that had said the candidate is incompetent, and the locum expecting us to give him more work.
So what do you think happened? Do you think the firm and the candidate have conspired together to pay us a lower fee and to get out of paying all of the fee by saying his work was incompetent, or is this all just a genuine situation where something has gone wrong but the firm have tried to help the locum out for his future career? You decide.
Jonathan Fagan is MD of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited and TP Recruitment Limited, a set of websites involved in a range of recruitment work. Jonathan has been running small businesses for over 20 years and has a number of interests and investments in companies as diverse as transcription, legal recruitment and a bit of marketing. He is an author of a number of guides and books, together with a children’s novel. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, cricket, coaching girls’ football, operating a parent taxi, lots of running and paddleboarding on Bala Lake and the River Dee. He is a strong believer in a good work-life balance and regular blogs on making money vs enjoying life. Jonathan’s website is https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk