Lawyer2B.com’s news agenda has been dominated by just one story this week. The launch of a locum trainee scheme by a little-known outfit called Acculaw.
In short Acculaw has been given backing from the Solicitors Regulation to employ its own trainees and then second them to law firms and in-house legal departments on an ad hoc basis (read story).
On the face of it Acculaw’s revolutionary offering looks appealing to both recruiters and aspiring solicitors. From a law firm’s point of view the programme is potentially a more cost-effective way of training its next generation of lawyers. It’s no wonder therefore that Olswang has already signed up for a pilot (read story). While for graduates Acculaw is likely to give them unparalleled exposure to potential employers.
Saying that, I’m yet to be convinced that Acculaw’s trainees aren’t just glorified paralegals even if they do gain a practising certificate at the end of the process. After all, they are most likely to be deployed on more mundane tasks such as due diligence and disclosure.
What also remains unclear is what will happen to these individuals on qualification? Acculaw contends that all other training contracts are also on a two-year fixed term basis. But the big difference is that law firms typically offer the majority of their final seat trainees newly qualified roles after completing their training contracts.
When we broke the story on Monday (19 September) we were therefore not massively surprised when we were inundated with a barrage of user comments slating the programme. Because despite Acclulaw’s claims that its scheme is good for diversity in the legal profession I can’t help but think it will have the opposite effect by creating a two-tier system.
PS – as some of you know tomorrow (23 September) is my last day as editor of Lawyer 2B as I am moving into the world of legal recruitment. So I just wanted to say goodbye and good luck to all the lovely students I have met during my time at the helm and hope that you manage to secure your dream job in law.