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The universal complaint amongst trainees employed by big commercial law firms is being asked to handle mundane tasks such as due diligence and disclosure.
Indeed, as someone who has had first hand experience of both I can understand why if given the choice trainees would rather be attending client meetings or drafting documents.
That’s why any student who dreams of working as a lawyer should be watching developments at Herbert Smith very closely. As reported by our sister site TheLawyer.com yesterday (24 November) the top ten City outfit is launching an office in Belfast to service its dispute resolution practice.
The idea is for the 20-strong office, which will be staffed by qualified solicitors and legal assistants, to handle disclosure on mammoth litigation projects (read more). Herbert Smith was keen to stress the move won’t result in any job losses and that it intends to continue hiring around 85 trainees per year as highlighted by graduate recruitment partner Matthew White.
He said: “”In addition to its manifest benefits for clients, the move will be beneficial for our people because among other pluses it will help attract even more work to the firm. Our trainee recruitment plans remain unchanged.”
But even if Herbert Smith is not planning to slash its trainee intake or paralegal pool the firm’s Belfast launch is another example of how outsourcing is beginning to really take off in the legal market. Indeed, it was only days before Herbert Smith’s announcement that CMS Cameron McKennas confirmed that its partners had voted in favour a major outsourcing deal with Integreon (full article).
The significance of all of this is that once outsourcing of legal work becomes more widespread some firms may soon realise that they don’t need as many trainees or junior lawyers as they did in the past. The good news, however, is that the trainees may never need to worry about doing so-called “donkey work” ever again. And wouldn’t that be a nice idea?