Halliwells: future Manchester and London trainees left jobless

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  • As a Manchester Future Trainee who has had their training contract withdrawn I am bitterly disappointed. I take little comfort from the fact my future colleagues have been taken on by HD, whilst me and great number of others are effectively out of the door with little more than an email.
    I am disgruntled that there has been no offer of support or advice from the Law Society and I question what exactly the £80 covers.
    This is a prime example of the failings in the current training system. I have invested a lot of time and money in getting to this stage and in Halliwells itself.
    On the whole, congratulations to those who have been successfully transferred, but it doesn’t make it any less of a bitter pill to swallow.

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  • What a surprise, the SRA makes anybody with the slightest character blemish jump through an endless list of hoops to get student enrolment and charges a small fortune for the privilege of it then leaves them abandoned when they might actually need some help.

    They're also quite content to stick their unwelcome nose into the affairs of anybody fortunate enough to have more than one training contract on offer but do nothing if the contracts are not honoured.

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  • As a current trainee it comes as a suprise to me that BLG are retaining seven of us who are due to qualify in September.

    This HAS NOT been communicated to us at all.

    Oh and we are due to qualify in August, not September.

    There has been a complete vacuum of information throughout this whole process with many individuals only looking to serve their own interests.

    The administrators haven't even bothered to contact us and tell us what is going on.

    Completely RIDICULOUS.

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  • I am happy to look at CVs

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  • To all disappointed Halliwells trainees, I am very sorry for you that this has happened. One very small lifeline which may help. MMU has funding for summer placements for unemployed graduates, one of the sectors covered is Law. If you can find a firm that will take you on for a four week placement at minimum wage then we will pay them £1k. This may give you an opportunity to shine and take on a paralegal role and a future training contract. Funding ends at the end of August although placement can be after that. Please direct any interested employer to http://www.mmu.ac.uk/careers/employers/internships
    or speak to me at MMU School of Law.

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  • I am one of the current trainees who has been affected.

    If Andrew Campbell (or anyone else who is in a position to help) can provide contact details, it would be grately appreciated.

    Many thanks.

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  • I am sorry to hear about the training contracts being withdrawn but I also wanted to say that I am sorry for all the other staff (fee earners and non-fee earners) who were caught up in the administration. One of my best friends is one of those people and she will not receive payment in lieu of notice or any compensation.

    If anyone should be complaining to anyone, you should be complaining to the SRA.

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  • Think of this as a lucky escape.

    The trainees have avoided years of worry about job security and wage deflation due to excess supply and falling demand. There is no future in law unless you want to work in China or India.

    Now these trainees can turn their minds to finding a career that genuinely serves the interests of the post modern society we live in.

    We badly need high quality engineers, tradesmen, mechanics, teachers etc etc.

    As we have past peak oil production (2004/2005) we will increasingly need farmers not office workers as globalisation is reversed due to energy shortages.

    Think it through.

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  • Is HBJ keeping on the current Manchester trainees?

    @Anonymous 22 Jul 2010 3.52pm - what planet are you on? I just looked up the definition of 'moron' in the dictionary and it said 'Anonymous 22 Jul 2010 3.52pm'.

    You have done no more than illegitimately draw extreme conclusions from some very general principles. Your comments are neither helpful, inspired nor any sort of received wisdom. I suspect you think you come across as wise and understanding of how the world really works. To those who have even half an iota of knowledge, you only betray your extreme ignorance.

    See my comments below, inserted in your text in square brackets and come back with a sensible second draft or just keep quiet.

    "Think of this as a lucky escape [One can escape at any time during a training contract, or later in one's career, by simply resigning. Training as a lawyer provides valuable skills which are highly transferrable and valued in many other professions. If the Halliwells trainees were to be kept on, their job prospects would be significantly better than they will be now. Furthermore, and put simply, a job is better than no job.]

    The trainees have avoided years of worry about job security [On what basis? They would have had a minimum of two years guaranteed employment, after which time the economy is likely to be in a much better position than it is now, and until recently, job prospects for lawyers were always exceptional. It was almost guaranteed that a trainee would be kept on. I suggest you refer to previous years' retention rates. Arguably, there is always room for good lawyers, even now (agai, look at increased reterntion rates).] and wage deflation [A deflated solicitor's salary is still tremendous in comparison with that of other professions. I suggest you look at recent articles on the highest starting salaries - law is top.] due to excess supply and falling demand [In what areas? The need for litigators has been increasing exponentially]. There is no future in law unless you want to work in China or India [There will always be good deal of property, criminal, commercial work etc. in the UK. It is not legal to move to India to and practice law there unless one is indian qualified. The Chinese legal market is actually already swollen with vast numbers of UK and US lawyers. The Chinese courts are not trusted and English law still prevails for international commercial and corporate work.]

    Now these trainees can turn their minds to finding a career that genuinely serves the interests of the post modern society we live in [Is that why they went for a commercial training contract? Research the term 'post-modern society'. It is now historic.].

    We badly need high quality engineers [Good point. There has been a lack of emphasis on innovation which is supplied by engineers. You may keep this in your second draft], tradesmen, mechanics [Seriously doubt these last two. Any evidence for this?] teachers [This was true a year or two ago but not any lomger. We have more teachers than jobs now, by a long way. This is mostly because the government has been pumping money into PGCEs etc but also the recession led to many moving into teaching.] etc etc.

    As we have past peak oil production (2004/2005) [OPEC controls oil production rates, to a greater or lesser degree, and could easily have the world producing significantly more oil overnight. It is for economic reasons only that it does not (i.e. high supply equals a lower rate per barrel for its members). Furthermore, countries such as Kazakhstan have huge supplies coming online over the next few years, more oil is being found daily (recent exapmles include the North Sea and Cornwall).] we will increasingly need farmers [We do not need farmers, that's why they don't get any money (supply and demand issue again) and they are upset that we keep buying the same stuff from European farmers much cheaper. Currently farmers get paid less per pint of milk than it cost to produce. See recent documentaries on the plight of British farming] not office workers as globalisation is reversed due to energy shortages [What energy shortages? We don't have any right now, or anticipate any in such a short period of time that it would affect someone's prospects as a trainee. Is oil going to run out, yes but there will be a replacement. The world moves on, we innovate. Consider the solar powered plane recently receiving press coverage. Wind, water, hydro, waste energy etc. Who are the lawyers who are getting into this - those who already know about energy - i.e. oil and gas lawyers, regulatory lawyers. These are huge new areas of law growing by the minute, which creates more demand for lawyers.].

    Think it through [Is this advice? Is this instruction? Is this meant to come across patronising?]."

    Hush now little one.

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  • I am a top-tier Manchester trainee who is going to be out of a job in 3 weeks time due to the lack of NQ jobs in the market. I have a first class degree and great experience yet I cannot find anything, and now feel trapped in law. Please, if you are a rejected future trainee, consider another career if there is even a hint of doubt in your mind. There is much more job satisfaction and security out there. And obviously, my sympathies go out to you all.

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  • As one of the trainees who was due to start in August with Halliwells in Manchester, I am obviously extremely disappointed to say the least to have been told that my training contract has been withdrawn.

    Given the small amount of future trainees that are affected, the fact that Hill Dickinson have taken on the trainees in the Liverpool and Sheffield offices, the fact that the trainees due to start in August have already been deferred for a year, and the fact that the business they were due to start in is still there, just under a new name, it is extremely disappointing that the two firms taking over the Manchester business have not been prepared to divide the future trainees between them.

    To add to the disappointment, the trainees due to start in August were actually part of the same intake who started in March and are keeping their training contracts. The ones who started in March were deferred for five months, and those due to start in August were deferred by ten months. The decision as to how long the deferral was to be for was by random ballot!

    We are now placed in an extremely difficult position, already a year after we were due to commence our training contracts. It would be nice to think that other law firms in Manchester would take the opportunity to step in and agree to take one or two trainees each, trainees who have already been through the Halliwells selection process and who have already obtained their LPC+. It would be great for the reputation of the firms who were prepared to do so, and also very much appreciated by the future trainees who otherwise risk having their legal careers ended before they have even begun, or at the least probably having to wait another two or three years to commence a training contract.

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  • Poetic justice!

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  • Maybe the time has finally come to offer some other route to qualifying as a solicitor than by training contract. Trainees have to have a law degree/diploma and the LPC to prepare them academically and practically. There could be an option to have a training contract as now (and salary) or a one year further training course (with payment of a fee). The Caribbean jurisdictions have no training contracts but they do have a 2 year practical course. People can then at least qualify and look for a job (n whatever field) as a qualified professional.

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  • Pat,

    Seriously do some research. You are very much out of date.

    I could dismantle your arguments easily.

    Lawyers do not earn good money. When you divide the average salary by the amount of hours they work then on an hourly basis they earn very little indeed. The work is increasingly being done by paralegals anyway.

    You are wrong on your energy arguments. You don't understand the issues which is very clear. Don't comment on things you do not know anything about. It's too complicated to explain but just research the issues.

    Wake up.

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  • Good for Hill Dickinson taking on trainees - there is some honour left in the profession then. SRA - it is NOT just a contractual issue - it is an issue of solicitors bringing the profession into disrepute and someone should surely look into the Spinningfields deal as £10M seems to have disappeared into a black hole!

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  • This is a prime example of why regulation should be taken away from the SRA and passed to the FSA.

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  • @Pat, best comment I have ever read on here!

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  • Advice to would be trainees

    1. Think laterally
    2. Get a group action started
    3. Think about a career in banking the bonuses are bigger and better and people respect bankers more now than they do lawyers
    4. Apply to be on The Apprentice
    5 Apply to be on Dragons Den
    6 Apply to be on A Simon Cowell show
    7 Apply to be on Jeremy Kyle show
    8 Write to your MP and your MEP
    9 Write to the Minister for Justice
    10 Think about a career in telesales
    11. Learn from this that nothing is certain and keep it in mind as a useful experience as you go through life
    12 Take up religion

    Good luck
    4. T

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  • The issue that these trainees and many law student can't seem to understand is that law is a saturated market.

    There are few opportunities.

    Students would have a better quality of life if they focused their energy on a career where demand is healthy

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  • What I find laughable is the fact that Halliwells told the trainees that they are not considered as assigned to geographical locations but rather as one intake.

    Nice to see that was merely guff.

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  • "Saturated market" - cheers for the cliché wisdom but that is far from the issue. The very fact that trainees appreciate the supply and demand inequalities is exactly why they are so delighted when offered a TC and subsequently distraught when that is taken away for reasons that no one would have predicted two years ago.

    The folk who have had their training contracts withdrawn have every right to be disgruntled and who's to say they aren't actively pursuing alternative careers.

    If you could float down from your position of higher wisdom you might stumble upon some compassion.

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  • A huge amount of sympathy goes out to all of you, I know how long that application process took, not to mention a years hard slog at the LPC and it seems really unfair that simply because you decided to go for Halliwells above any other TC offers you may have recieved that you have ended up in this position. Those of you that I know are all lovely people and will prove to be great assets to the firms you end up at.

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  • Really feel for those who have had their TCs withdrawn/ ended prematurely. Even though those qualifying soon must be worried about retention/ post qualification prospects.

    I lost my job as a 1+ PQE (in com property). Have been forced to change career after more than a year of no success securing work elsewhere. Now I'm sure it's a blessing in disguise.

    I always wonder how many jobless NQs/ juniors have had to take the same path as I. Perhaps I'm biased, but certainly my advice would be that, to those considering a legal career in the property sector, don't.

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  • I agree with the above post. Although I am still working as a solicitor it is obvious that other careers offer much better rewards and more job security.

    Eventually legal work will be mostly done by paralegals and solicitors will be fighting for very few openings.

    The future is definitly not orange.

    Law is far too risky particularly in this day and age.

    Don't self fund the LPC it is seriously a waste of money because it will more than likely lead to years of low paid paralegal work.

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  • Presumably the qualification ball in August is cancelled?

    Or is it still compulsory to come, Frances?

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  • I'm not surprised to hear of so many disappointed trainees but what do they think the SRA can, or should, do?

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  • lol @ A Broken Camel - it wouldn't surprise me if it still was compulsory

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  • As with the Shoosmiths saga, the SRA roll out the same gutless line; "this is an employment law issue". Too true it is - but why this stops the SRA compelling the transfer of trainees to other firms during a firm's collapse or at least issuing penal measures against the acquirer of the business of a collapsed firm baffles me. If an acquirer were to sack contracted employees in this manner in an ordinary takeover then TUPE would protect said employee and nail said firm. If the SRA cannot regulate a fairly basic set of circumstances covered by statute in other similar circumstances, for the benefit of the apprentice and most vulnerable end of its profession, then it serves as much practical use as a Porsche Boxter minus its engine.

    Given that the SRA have now failed to act twice in appalling circumstances then at the very least they should dispense with the regulation prohibiting prospective trainees from applying to other firms having accepted an offer of a Training Contract. If the SRA fails to provide traineeship security for the trainee then why should firms receive security of trainee loyalty?

    Yet again these circumstances highlight the curiously eccentric desire of law firms to recruit 2 years in advance blind of future conditions. A reactive, fluid and quickstep trainee recruitment programme is commonplace in other industries - why the legal profession has to be bloody awkward and downright stupid about this procedure is a mystery to me.

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  • If anyone who was due to start as a trainee with Halliwells in 2010 is interested in claimant professional negligence / insurance work, based in the City, please feel free to send your CV to david.pryce@fenchurchlaw.co.uk.

    Best of luck to all concerned.

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  • @Pat

    Haaaaaaahahahaahha. Haaaaaaaaahahahahaaha. I bet you would make just the perfect dinner guest as you are right about absolutely everything. Think you should become a postman instead, and buy a nice black and white cat to talk cat litter to. What a hobbesian fello you are: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short (in the Leviathan sense of course)

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  • I am a director of the Institute of Paralegals, a not-for-profit professional body for non-lawyers doing legal work.

    I wrote recently to the Management at Halliwells to offer free careers support for paralegal and legal secretarial staff who might be adversely affected by the firm's difficulties. It would appear that my letter was overtaken by events. I am therefore repeating the offer in full below (apologies if some of the references to commitment to staff now ring a little hollow to some of you). If any readers feel that they and/or their friends and colleagues could benefit from such help please contact me at steve@theiop.org and we will do all we can to arrange a suitable group meeting.

    This offer applies equally to those who were to be trainees. Many of you may already have paralegal experience that can easily be translated into a recognised stage of the paralegal careers path e.g. Certified Paralegal. In any event, as you will be aware, paralegal is increasingly becoming the first step to qualification as a solicitor in many firms and although it may not be the big step forward that you planned to take, it may be at least a positive step in the right direction. We can help you to maximise the benefits of professional paralegal status if that is a route that you wish to take temporarily.

    Sympathies to all who have lost out in the debacle. I sincerely hope that we can be of assistance to some of you.

    Best wishes

    "Free support for your paralegal and legal secretarial staff

    As the professional body representing non-lawyers doing legal work, we would like to offer you immediate, free assistance for your paralegal staff.

    We have, of course, read of your firm’s current difficulties and we wish you well in your attempts to find solutions.

    Having had discussions with your training manager last year, we know of your firm’s commitment to its staff. Hopefully our offer will both assist them as individuals and assist the firm in maximizing the value of the teams it is seeking to transfer.

    We would like to offer on-site workshops to help your paralegal staff strengthen their career profiles, translate their experience into nationally recognised skills competencies and to provide careers advice and support. There is no charge for this service. Regardless of whether your paralegal staff are part of a team transferring to another firm, or staying with Halliwells or being made redundant, we believe that our advice and support will strengthen their positions.

    What we can offer includes:

    • Careers advice from specialist recruitment experts
    • Advice on the best professional courses if they need to retrain or up-skill
    • Advice on the current and coming market for paralegals
    • Formal professional recognition/accreditation
    • Access to the Route to Qualification, the professional paralegals' career path
    • Essential market knowledge through free subscription to The Paralegal e-journal (the leading paralegal journal) published in conjunction with the New Law Journal
    • Free access to paralegal competency standards drawn up by the profession itself which will help them define the skills sets they have and will need
    • Membership of the Institute which brings a host of professional and personal benefits and support

    We are able to offer a similar free package to legal secretaries.

    If you like the offer we would propose a workshop/seminar (to be repeated as required) to which we would bring a specialist paralegal recruiter and training expert. IOP staff would provide careers advice. There would be time set-aside afterwards for individual discussions with staff.

    We would also of course be delighted to liaise with the firm’s representatives and any firm receiving paralegal teams if that were required."

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  • Well done to Hill Dickinson on taking on the Liverpool and Sheffield trainees. But why are they the only firm prepared to step in and help in this situation?

    Why did HBJ and Barlows completely refuse to consider taking on any of the Manchester trainees? Why haven't they given a proper explanation of their refusal to honour the contracts? The work is still there, it's just now with them rather than Halliwells.

    And why have no other firms stepped up and offered to help? Surely it's a good deal for them - good publicity and trainees who already have obtained their LPC at Halliwells expense! Surely trainee recruitment people have sympathy with the people affected and would like to help out?

    Will any firm step in and offer to help?

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  • Well if the letching muppets that were involved in recruitment when i took a training contract with them were still active it might be because the most important qualification for trainees was breast size. Perhaps BLG and HBJ have different standards?

    Heart goes out to all trainees that have screwed over my halliwells.

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  • Well if the letching muppets that were involved in recruitment when i took a training contract with them were still active it might be because the most important qualification for trainees was breast size. Perhaps BLG and HBJ have different standards?

    This is very unfair, I happen to know a number of the Halliwells ex-futures, who were top quality, intelligent and switched on people. Don't insult the hard graft they have had to put in to get this far, and sign it away to physical appearance. Around 40 bright legal futures have been extinguished here for the time being, a sad loss to the legal community if you ask me. I wish them all well, and hope sincerely they are successful and someone might step in and help them all out.

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  • "Heart goes out to all trainees that have screwed over my halliwells."

    This sheds a new light on trainee activity. Would you please care to exlain what your halliwells are?

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  • Very harsh news for the future trainees of Halliwells.

    If the equity partners at the firm had any honour they should make some sort of contribution so that the trainees that have been screwed over by their poor management have something to tide them over until they manage to find another job.

    Good luck guys.

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  • Whilst I agree that this is a terrible situation for the Halliwell's trainees, BLG and HBJ have no obligation to take on the trainees or even consider taking them on (also, we have no evidence that they have "completely refused to consider" doing this). The contracts were between Halliwells and the trainees - not HBJ/BLG and the trainees - they have no obligation to "honour the contracts". All this talk of why isn't the SRA getting involved is quite clearly missing the point - BLG and HBJ have taken on many parts of Halliwells' business and prevented many redundancies (although I'm sure their motives are hardly altruistic), why should the SRA force them to take on trainees if they do not need them?

    I wish the trainees the best of luck in securing new training contracts, which I am sure many will be able to do.

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  • I seriously feel for all you guys. However (and of course this is in no way your fault), the firm massively over recruited on the number of trainees. It has been bordering on the ridiculous over the last few years.

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  • @Steviano

    Don't get me started on cat litter...

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  • Wow, what a huge outcry over the folding of a law firm and the lost jobs. It is a real shame that this has happened and make no mistake. Has anyone noticed the climate we are currently working in though? Has the self same thing not been happening in all manner of different sectors for the last couple of years?
    It is no surprise to see people lose their jobs and whilst this is sad, it is by no means surprising. The world has changed and so must our markets and our culture. The test is how individuals deal with the challenge of moving forward through such difficult times. Looking for people to blame may be natural but it isn't the most constructive approach. Neither is it beneficial to use pitiful arguments to change an entire structure which works well in the main but as with any structure there surely cannot be one failsafe system. Years of scandel and outcry about so many different topics has proved that.
    Move on positively and don't look back, whether in law or elsewere. Easier said than done but if you don't, the future looks even more bleak.

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  • What is going to happen to other staff members such as in IT departments? Will they be made redundant as well?

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  • I agree with "Anonymous | 22-Jul-2010 3:52 pm"
    Read Suskind and then get out of the profession as soon as you can.
    Your nothing more than wage slaves to Partners who will do absolutely everything to maintain their equity niche. Just take one glance at the vain-glorious PEP publishing round that happens every year.
    You can make more money, for less effort, with greater social benefit in practically any other industry. You should all face up to the fact that for 6 years at least you will be doing nothing more useful than learning how to spell, stealing office milk and charging honest people to print the same self-serving bits of paper.
    I have a training contract and I'm looking forward to telling them where they can shove it.
    Get a life. Get a real job.

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  • My sympathies to all who have had training contracts withdrawn, particularly to those who may have previously turned down other offers. However, welcome to the harsh realities of the economic downturn. Many others, trainees, solicitors and other legal staff are currently without employment and, as a business owner and manager, I can understand why it has not been feasible for all of the training contracts to be honoured in this situation.
    Many graduates do seem to think that they have a "right" to a job - this is not the case - either now or later in life.
    I'm sure the good candidates - with the right attitude will get snapped up quickly - meanwhile my advice is try to get another job over the summer - any job, and focus on re-applying whilst you are working. Doing something positive with your time, rather than complaining, is far more likely to impress another employer.

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