Fresh blow for trainees as A&O shuts up shop early

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  • So is the suggestion here that virtually no law graduates will be freshly recruited as people on the GDL and deferring trainees have filled the spaces? If it is then A&O should be ashamed of themselves.

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  • Ermmm, if it is then why should A&O be ashamed of themselves?

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  • Bap - I hope you are not a trainee as your reasoning leaves a lot to be desired of it. A&O are protecting their business from any detrimental effects they MAY encounter over the next 2 years. They are ensuring continuation for the existing graduates that have already got contracts for 2011-12 as well as the unfortunates who had to defer their start dates. I say hats off to A&O for their forward thinking and taking action early to ensure all interested parties know exactly where they stand.

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  • Anonymous @ 3:50 pm, just pointing out that nobody has yet 'had' to defer at A&O.

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  • "virtually no law graduates"

    False. There are about 30 future law graduates on the VP scheme including me, and most will be applying for places.

    In fact, is it too much to hope the law students on the vacation scheme will be more likely to be offered places to ensure the regular distribution of law/non-law?

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  • They didn't open recruitment to law graduates and have now closed their recruitment altogether, leaving law graduates discriminated against. I suppose though it's a detriment to being a lawyer to have a law degree, we should have all done Basket Weaving instead.

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  • And A&O have publicly announced that there will be no forced deferrals - they are inviting volunteers, but people are free not to volunteer. I agree, the firm's taking preventative action. And a smaller intake is actually better for those who do get in - their chances of retention on qualification are much better.

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  • I agree. Whats there to be ashamed of? Unless Bap is contending that law firms have a moral duty to provide employment to law school graduates regardless of their business model? are we a communist state now?

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  • Bap - what are you on about? Of course A&O opened recruitment to law grads. It's no detriment to have a law degree when trying to be a lawyer. Competition is tough and A&O have filled their vacancies already. Unfortunate state of the market.

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  • The end of this article is incorrect - Freshfields is not the only magic circle firm yet to defer trainees. Slaughters haven't done this either.

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  • Everyone knows that law firms would rather have people with a wide range of experience. So If you have done a law degree you are effectively worse off. Sadly not everyone has parents to pay for a random undergrad and then the GDL.

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  • Bap, I agree with you, I call that 'mickey mouse degree', hence it explains the poor quality of UK lawyers compared to the others european laywers

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  • Metallica, A&O did not open their law graduate recruitment. This was to be opened from June to August but obviously has now been cancelled.

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  • If A&O had felt that the quality of the non-law grad applicants was insufficient to fill the number of places they expect to have in 2011-12 then they would have continued to run the application process.
    Having done a “Mickey mouse degree” (thanks for the insult Anonymous) as well as having paid for both my undergrad and GDL courses myself (thanks also to the other Anonymous) I’m glad that magic circle firms are acknowledging the high standard of non-law graduates in the market place by accepting so many that law-grads don’t even get a look-in. Your narrow-minded comments have proven their actions correct...

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  • Bap - Law graduates that were good enough would have been recruited through the vacation scheme.

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  • I have a science degree. I would hardly call that a "Mickey Mouse" degree!! As a result, I understand IP and more often than not, better than law grads. So why wouldn't firms like A&O recruit candidates like me. Also, in my experience a lot of law grads are like a lighthouse in the middle of a desert - very bright but no use.

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  • Bap if its not clear to you I hope this helps. Law students had their chance at these positions in December/January by applying for Vacation Schemes. As someone pointed out, most TC's are given to these people. It's just those law students who never got/applied in December that are out of luck here.
    Law grads can be offered a TC before Sept 1, unlike law students. Point being if you are a law grad you should be applying earlier than now.

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  • When things boom, big law firms work you to the bone. Trainees put in hugely long hours to impress their superiors. But when things get tough - they don't think twice about giving you the boot. This is why at my firm, people are paid a fair salary and have a great time with us. Our employees stay with us through thick and thin, as we do with them. Our firm is young and loyal. We compete on mid level rates, but our service exceeds those of the larger firms. Gone are the days, when law firms could charge anything they wanted to. Many of their clients are now State owned, with angry tax payers demanding to know how things went wrong. Gone are the days when law firms "never competed on price". This is why, one of the effects of their greed, is showing through by trainee deferrals and intake reductions. Our firm is proud to compete on rates. Our clients are happy that the rates they pay are for the provision of top quality legal advice, rather than to finance partners' sports card, mansions and mistresses. Let this be a lesson to trainees and future lawyers - the debacle of the last 10 years will not be repeated, so don't give your greedy law firms your unwavering support. They'll simply screw you in return.

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  • Not all law graduates are, due to study commitments (which will not trouble the likes of Basket Weavers too much) or work commitments if they have since left uni, able to go on vacation placements and by not even giving people like this the chance to apply, A&O have effectively left them discriminated against. I couldn't care less about A&O and nobody I know would even apply to them but it's completely ridiculous that a supposed law firm has so blatantly shown its disinterest in law graduates.

    Oh well, A&O can fill their boots with Mickey Mouse graduates if they want, maybe next year they can have Donald Duck and Goofy too.

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  • The standard of weave in the UK basket market has really suffered due to the number of unemployed law graduates entering the industry. Everyone knows that continental Europe has the best baskets because ALL of their weavers have PHDs in Basket Weaving.

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  • I have to agree somewhat with Bap. I've always thought it is a little unfair that someone with a 2:1 in Law is in no better position than someone with a 2:1 in basket weaving (to use his words, being facetious I know) who does the GDL. Law is after all, and this may cause controversy, one of the hardest undergraduate degrees out there and always has been. I also think it should say something about the candidate that they knew they wanted to be a Lawyer from an earlier age than a GDL candidate as they chose to study it at Uni having probably decided to do so in their mid-teens. Just a thought.

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  • I see that firms are continuing to overlook the opportunity to scrap the current recruitment system by persisting with cack handed measures to "protect their business".

    I keep harping on about this but if they really want to protect their business and make things fairer for prospective trainees, they should introduce a faster, more economy-responsive, University-style application process. It's not rocket science.

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  • Guys,

    It works like this... A firm has to offer more spots than it has jobs on the basis that not everyone who applies to A&O and is accepted will take the place. The lucky recipient of an offer may have a last minute change of heart and decide to become a basket weaver (read CC lawyer). As you may have noticed, the economy is not very good right now so fewer deals are being done and people are trying to keep cash in the bank rather than use debt. This means fewer people need lawyers. This in turn means that law firms need fewer trainees.

    So, for 2011 A&O needs fewer lawyers - say as an example 80 instead of its usual 120 (split over two intakes of 60). Therefore, instead of offering 150 spots, it has to offer 95, or 100. It is also asking some trainees from 2009 and 2010 to defer because otherwise they would be paid to sit and twiddle their thumbs - not great for training, not great for morale, but more importantly not great for business.

    Therefore, some of the 2009 and 2010 intakes will fill some of the 2011 spots. As an example, let's say 20 people over the two years defer, meaning that 2011 now only has 60 spots, instead of 120, and has to offer say 70 spots instead of 150. If it thinks it has 30 spots from vac schemers, that means that only 40 places are left for the current applicants. If it already has 50 good people, A&O will close the books for the year.

    If you haven't already applied (ahead of doing exams) in an economy like this, unfortunately that's the game.

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  • As someone who has taught law and worked in a law firm, I am not sure that it is true that law is "of the hardest undergraduate degrees out there and always has been" as Brad Storm puts it. How do you judge how hard a degree is?
    And if you could make such a judgment, what good would it do? A&O and many other firms clearly hold the view that there is no appreciable distinction between trainees with law degrees and those without. On that evidence (and the fact that the legal profession at its most senior levels is liberally sprinkled with people without law degrees), surely we must conclude that the holder of a law degree is not necessarily better suited to legal practice than someone with any other degree, all other things being equal.

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  • Professor, you seem to have missed the point that the law graduate recruitment wasn't opened so law graduates couldn't apply even if they wanted to.

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  • Yes they could. Law grads could have applied at any time.

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  • In response to 'seen both sides', I made the comment about Law being one of the hardest undergrad degrees purely on the basis of my own experience at Uni. It wasn't uncommon for grade boundaries to be moved in other subjects, e.g. psychology had it's 2:1 boundary moved from 60% to 56% in my final year. A lot of my mates seemed to do absolutely nothing whilst they were there (and they'll admit it) but walked out with healthy 2:1s whilst the law students spend half their time stuck in the library attempting to memorize hundreds of cases just to scape a 2:1, and these were intelligent and academic people...

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  • Grrrr!

    There's a concept that many grads cannot seem to understand. If you do a law degree you are NOT guaranteed a training contract. If you do the GDL you are NOT guaranteed a training contract. Competition is so fierce now. But grads seem to think they are entitled to a training contract simply by having a legal qualification.

    As I understand, A&O opened their trainee recruitment to law grads and non-law grads. They have now closed up shop because they have the numbers they want - a mix between law and non-law grads. A&O are simply responding to the downturn in the economy which was caused by the government, the FSA and investment bankers.

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  • Metallica, once again I repeat that they didn't open the law graduate recruitment.

    "Law - 1 June - 31 July 2009 to begin September 2011 / March 2012"

    Read it carefully. The 1st June 2009 has not yet come.

    Law graduates could not have applied at any time, the vacation scheme does not count as it is not the application process for law graduates even if performance on it may help.

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  • on the A&O recruitment website it says applications will be open from June 1st, just for a year later:

    "Training Contract applications for Law students open from 1 June - 31 July 2009. We will only be accepting applications for our September 2012 and March 2013 intakes"

    If they are deffering current trainees, surely to defer applications from potential future trainees is also fair. They can only recruit for vacancies they have, unless you want them to deny those on the vacation schemes or retract offers from people who have already accepted offers?

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  • The problem is that they operated a discriminatory recruitment model which meant that law graduates could not apply until the summer, by which time they had decided to fill up on Basket Weavers and thus were left in a much worse position than someone who had fudged their way through uni on a rubbish course.

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  • Kindred - Slaughters are not a magic circle firm. That's why they weren't included.

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  • In 99% of cases I don't think it's fair to say that people didn't/couldn't apply for the vacation scheme because of other commitments. They offer 3 schemes which should suit all but the most inflexible.
    As has been said before, you have to really want the job in this market. I finish uni in mainland Europe on Friday, fly all my stuff home to Ireland on Saturday and start the VP in London on Monday.

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  • Maybe instead of acting like all the other sheep and simply go for a LLB, you should have followed the path of the likes of me... Did a degree in Basket Weaving also known as a BA Chinese and Law where I got all the extra knowledge that you cannot get with a simple LLB and then applied EARLY to magic circle firms, and did the GDL... which by the way pretty much means doing the substantial elements of a 3 year LLB in one year (not much basket weaving there) ! So instead of moaning and feeling sorry for yourself, you should sort it out ! Do something in the "mean"time... enhance your cv to maximise your chances when they next recruit : you could even do a year of basket weaving: it's not that difficult. Good luck...

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  • 'I also think it should say something about the candidate that they knew they wanted to be a Lawyer from an earlier age than a GDL candidate as they chose to study it at Uni having probably decided to do so in their mid-teens.'
    In many cases, I would suggest it shows that they had parents who gave them good guidance.
    In many cases, it probably shows that they were thinking about making lots of money from an early age.
    Seriously; who, in their mid-teens had any idea what a career in law (or any other career for that matter) would actually entail?
    The GDL is not a soft option.
    Just give it a rest, people.

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  • Speaking of parental guidance, those who study the GDL are almost exclusively those whose parents can afford to throw eight grand at them for another year spent studying on top of the fortune they've already paid out.

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  • Question: aren't law students applying for Training contracts only really in a good position to do so after they get their 2nd year results? Therefore, applying early (before exams) doesn't necessarily put you in a better position?
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, I just always thought the whole reason for the July deadline was so 2nd yr results could be taken into account :-S

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  • Doughnut - I didn't know anyone on the GDL who didn't either pay for it themselves (using those lawyer-friendly loans from Natwest) or (having secured a TC out of the grasping hands of a law student) have their future firm pay on their behalf...

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  • LLB or GDL, neither is a walk in the park. Personally, I did a degree at Cambridge followed by the GDL. Definitely not Mickey Mouse. And neither of my parents were in a position to support me financially. Bitterness and envy are very ugly emotions.
    Welcome to the harsh reality of the business world ladies and gentlemen - unfortunately the moral issues rank well behind the ecomomic reality in terms of importance and it is just typical of lawyers that the points of view expressed here have so emphatically gone off on a tangent and show an astounding lack of commercial acumen.
    By the way, I have been in practice for 8 years and have been made redundant so no accusations of not sharing the pain please. Vent to your friends and move on.

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  • Well put Anonymous (11.44am). I sympathise with those applying for the fast-dwindling number of jobs, but the sense of entitlement from law students on this board compared to their non-law colleagues is frankly laughable.
    Having supervised my fair share of trainees and interviewed my fair share of hopefuls, I can say with some experience that non-law grads make just as fine trainees as law grads and (crucially for this discussion) often make much better interviewees.
    I say this as a law graduate.

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