Laid-off minority lawyers toil for no pay

  • Print
  • Comments (33)

Readers' comments (33)

  • 'The Law Society said: “Some BME solicitors [are] working for no pay"'

    Hmm not exactly news to me. Has been going on for the past 10 years at least.

    So what exactly does the Law Society propose to do about it? I wonder what the Law Society does with the membership fees if not to protect expoited ethnic minorities.

    I expect a little more probing by The Lawyer if it expects its "news" leads to be considered journalism.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 11:36 am - how DARE you expect that the Law Society actually DO anything about any issue that doesn't involve Legal Aid cuts. Have you learnt nothing about our representative body over the past few years???

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There are many working for no-pay in solicitors firms, hoping they might one day win the golden ticket of a training contract, but the story is more newsworthy when it involves BMEs?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The same comments about unpaid training contracts and work apply equally to people who aren't ethnic minorities.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I may be incorrect (but I am not) - the Law Society dictates minimum pay for training contracts - IHateBPP may be showing his age.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The SRA does dictate minimum pay, but actually ensuring it is paid is another matter.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Why do you assume that IHateBPP is male?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Re: Anonymous | 25-Oct-2010 12:34 pm
    You're right there are many people working without pay but the problem is more acute among BMEs who don't always have the same contacts and networks as white British lawyers because they didn't go to right school or the right university and Mummy or Daddy isn't a lawyer at Smith & Smith. Race and ethnicity and questions of social capital are still very closely entwined.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sarah: 'bla bla bla chip on my shoulder'.

    FYI - ethnic minorities are overrepresented in the profession as a percentage of the population. It is easier to get a TC or junior associate position as an ethnic minority than a white person.

    This is a non-story.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sarah is quite right, and the situation is likely to get much, much worse thanks to the Coalition's plans for higher education.

    Seems like the law is going to remain largely the province of rich white people for some time to come...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 25-Oct-2010 3:15 pm

    What's your source that ethnic minorities are overrepresented in the profession as a percentage of the population?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have no sympathy.

    This is what happens in an oversubscibed industry.

    The solution is to get another job in an industry where there is demand.

    Everyone knows law is oversubscribed and if one choses to enter a saturated market then one takes the risk or unemployment or exploitation.

    I can't see any basis to moan. To those who complain, you chose to enter the law with full knowledge of the issues.

    Take responsibility for your own decisions. How can you expect the law society or sra to make up for your irresponsible decisions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "The legal profession should be proud of the gender and ethnic diversity of its students and new entrants: more than half of new solicitors are women and about a fifth are black and minority ethnic (BME) trainees."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/oct/13/diversity-legal-services-board-research

    Bearing in mind the UK population is only 10% non-white, this would, in anyone's maths equate to overrepresentation.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @ Anonymous 4:15 pm "How can you expect the law society or sra to make up for your irresponsible decisions."

    Umm very easily.

    What is the SRA and Law Society for if not to protect and look out for the interests of its members ..doh!

    So there is a problem of supply exceeding demand in law, no huge surprise there; but certainly no reason why exploititive behaviour should continue unchecked (esp in such a prestigious profession).

    BTW ethinic minorities are not overly represented in the law, anyone who thinks that needs to open their eyes and live in the real world.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The simple fact is that as a percentage of society BME's are OVER REPRESENTED in law. Seriously, get off the bandwagon Lawyer.
    These are the offical statistics:
    "•More recently the number of women holding practising certificates has increased by 100% in the last 10 years. Women now make up 60% of admissions to the Law Society;
    •9% of solicitors of ALL in private practice come from a BME background;"
    AMAZING RESULTS! LETS STOP COMPLAINING BME.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To "Doh"
    Yes they have a responsibility to look after the interests of their members but not go as far as making up for their stupidity.
    Excess supply will always lead to exploitation to some degree. That is economics. It is not something the authorities can correct. You can try and pass rules to resolve the issue but it will not work.
    The problem is not for the sra or law society to resolve. It is for individuals to take responsibility for their own actions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Why do you assume that IHateBPP is male?
    Sorry, I did not have time to include interpretation clause, but to put your mind at rest, words denoting the masculine gender shall include the feminine.
    Happy?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • its not just the ethnic minorities that are suffering lawyers at all levels and whether in PP or in-house are being used and abused with employers justifying this with the old adage 'you're lucky to have a job'
    my colleague is 9 years qualified worked for magic circle and national firms has a 1:1 in law, bills his salary and more each month and our employer is paying £28k which i think is an insult for his level of PQE and the added value he offers so perhaps the lawyer could run more balanced articles in the future which don't just focus on the topics that will grab the headlines or pay lip service to one demographic

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm one of these poor mugs. The only BMEs that are getting kept on are the ones from the well off background - they, at large, benefitted disproporitionately from all the 'boom time' diversity initiatives. I aint gonna use this as an excuse tho, I'm a keep going...and go into IT support.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It is easy to state that BMEs are over represented, but statistics are often misleading.
    Further analysis is required, a more representative analysis would include the number of Law graduates, LPC or GDL graduates from BME backgrounds. The figures are also skewed as a number of BME solicitors establish smaller practices due to the limited opportunities available to them in the larger (and more lucrative) sectors of the industry.
    Recent ONS statistics show that Indian and Chinese students achieve the best results in exams overall (and have done for years), it would naturally follow that a disproportionately higher number go to university and enter the professions.
    Finally, I know of one top fifteen firm that positively encourages partners to take into account any possibility (however remote) that they may have a BME background, to help massage the diversity statistics that they disclose to their clients.
    As with most things the statistics represent what the publisher wants them to represent.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I just wonder whether any journos would bother running a story about all of the members of the 'majority' who are doing similar work to try and secure employment? Or is that not likely to get a response?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I can completely believe that BME candidates make up 20% of new intake.
    But I think you'll find they are mostly in the highstreet law / legal aid areas.
    In the city there are relatively few of us. Though I suspect this has much more to do with class than race.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm no maths genius, but I think I'm right in saying that 'some' is not technically a 'statistic'. Nor 'shocking', really.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @Anonymous | 25-Oct-2010 2:38 pm
    The SRA can set any rules it wants and it can document them from now to eternity but it won't mean the rules are being enforced.
    Trainees, or more likely unscrupulous firms, are proving to be quite adept at making sure unpaid training contracts go undetected and if you think it's not happening then you're quite wrong.
    I can also confirm that I am male, although I don't see why anybody cares?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I just don't understand why people are moaning.
    If you don't like it do something else!!
    There are plenty of industries out there.
    If BME candidates want to be in a profession that treats them fairly then get a job in health or education.
    Those areas are protected by Government spending and valued by society.
    I don't quite know why people persist with law when it is a bad move in this day and age.
    Many years ago the investment was justified. However 7 years of study and training and high debts to earn less than a teacher and have poor career prospects? Always at risk of redundancy and being treated badly?
    Seriously it's not worth it.
    Stop wasting time and do something more productive and enjoyable!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There are all types of discrimination in these firms. The latest is only taking on trainees who qualified in 2010 rather than 2009 ones who lost out then. The reasoning is off the mark. We all know that lawyers are picked for a firm if they "fit in". i don't know why more is not done on this issue. It's wrong and pretty crass, not to mention ironic.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I worked for free prior to obtaining a training contract in the City. It was vital to have some experience on my CV. Oh and I am from an ethnic minority.

    Non-BME candidates were and are in the same situation.

    BUT what percentage of partners are from an ethnic minority? Probably 10%? So the chances of a BME candidate being given a chance is very low. A non-BME candidate is in a far better position to call upon mummy or daddy who are partners (or an uncle or auntie) for assistance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I thought this was a meritocracy. What does my intelligence and ability to practise law have to do with any percentage? Wake up and smell the black coffee this is the C21st.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Some of the comments on this page are very irritating. Not everyone who makes it in the city is a white male with a privileged background. I am a white female who did not come from a privileged background. I got to where I am today (a senior in house role at top 10 FTSE 100 company) through sheer determination and hard work. And I got a 2:2 in my undergraduate degree. Nothing is impossible as long as you are prepared to work hard and not give up. PLEASE can people STOP making excuses for themselves???!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Recently I attended an interview for a position of commercial/corporate lawyer. At the interview I was asked to contribute £20,000 to the practice as an employee but without being made a partner in the near future. I was not sure whether that meant that I would be effectively subsidising my own salary or would not be paid anyway. I was asked to prepare a business plan in which I mentioned that I would like to be paid during the time when I am 'growing' the practice. My business plan was not acknowledged as received and I was never contacted again.
    I am white by the way.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To "Someone in the law"
    You are the exception not the norm. Yes it can happen but it's highly unlikely.
    Just because you got lucky, that doesn't change the general picture. No one is making excuses. It is easy to say what you say when you are the lucky one.
    If you got a 2:2 now you wouldn't get anywhere no matter how hard you tried.
    This is reality.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • to Anonymous at 1-Nov-2010 3:34 pm.
    Sounds like a scam to me.
    Unfortunately such is the competition for jobs that it would probably be tempting for someone.
    Very sad indeed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Surely I agree with most of your comments. Most of the the newly qualified solicitors in my firm are working for nothing hoping that a time will come for the big cheque.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (33)