HSBC legal chief dragged into 'informal internships' row

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  • Good for Addleshaw Goddard. A move in the right direction.

    My heart used to sink when I saw the "mini me's" in their child size suits coming in for work experience in the firm I worked in because Mummy or Daddy had had a word with the relevant Partner and of course one must not offend the bearer of a hefty wallet.. As the proteges sullenly carried out their tasks I was reminded of Michael Gove's complaint that too many - "rich thick kids" were bagging the best opportunities. There is a huge pool of untapped intellect out there and kids from less connected backgrounds but hungry to move on and up ,above all need to learn confidence. A few weeks in a City office could do them the power of good. The trainee summer schemes were run on merit (broadly!) but the informal opportuntes cannot be accessed without connections. This not a affirmaitve action plea. It is a hard headed economic argument - trawl deeper and you might find some pearls

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  • Any business which fails to encourage meritocratic practices is likely to fall behind its competitors. Any candidate who is going to make waves wants to be judged on their credentials and not on their surname. I know several people who would never dream of using their family connections to get a job nor would they want to work at a company that would accept them on that basis. Friends of mine signed up to the Intern Avenue website for their internship this year rather than ask their parents to "find" them somewhere. It much better to get a job on your own merit. The sad thing is that not even the so-called "rich kids" want anything to do with this.

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  • In such a competitive market, I don't think you can blame the candidates for trying to use any connection available to them to get into the law. Afterall, much of the careers advice that is offered to students is to network as much as possble, and then to try and capitalise on these networks. You can't blame someone for the fact that they have been born into a family of lawyers/bankers/monied-types.
    You CAN, however, blame the firms who give in to the partner or client and accept these candidates, despite the fact that they may not actually meet the standards that are generally expected of the firm. Setting consistent standards of entry to the various programmes offered - whether summer internships, training contracts or even more informal work placements - will create transparency and ensure that everyone is aware of exactly what the firm requires from its employees.

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  • Of course Freshfields can say that they don't allow partners'/clients' children to apply for vac scheme placements... that's because they have a separate vacation scheme just for the little darlings. One way of dealing with it...

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