Given the current economic climate, not one day passes without another firm conceding that it’s deferring the start dates of its future trainees. But thankfully for worried students who are wondering whether they’ll be next, most firms are being relatively generous with their cash handouts.
But what if like Shoosmiths your firm refuses to take its chequebook out? Where do you stand? Since we weren’t sure we thought we’d ask the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). And this was its shock response:
“The SRA sympathises with the disappointment felt by trainees who are faced with having to defer - or in some cases even lose - their training contracts due to the economic downturn. However, unfortunately this is an employment issue and as such falls outside the remit of our regulatory role.”
As you can imagine when we revealed the SRA’s stance on what is becoming an increasingly controversial subject yesterday (see story) your comments came flooding in.
One poster asked if the SRA isn’t prepared to assist in a matter that is of utmost importance to aspiring lawyers why on earth should students be required to pay a membership fee? “The SRA should intervene otherwise what is the point in being a student member of the SRA. Also what is the point in them providing guidelines for the recruitment of trainees.”
While another poster wrote: “[The] SRA are happy to intervene in the free market for recruitment to help prevent trainees messing firms around but when the shoe is on the other foot they are suddenly rendered helpless.’
But a handful of posters have rallied behind the SRA including one who put it: “Why would people expect the SRA to become involved? The SRA is not expected to intervene in the redundancies that are taking place at the moment, as this is also an employment law issue.”
Whilst I appreciate that the issue of trainee deferrals falls outside the SRA’s remit what I’m struggling to understand is why it can’t at the very least issue some guidance and advice to those who are affected. After all living through unprecedented times does require some unprecedented actions.