Law Society starts campaign to scare off wannabe lawyers

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  • Do away with the LPC and Training Contract barriers to the profession. Bring in the US system of qualification and let the competition begin.

    Simples...

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  • Husnara,

    I agree with you (almost entirely!).

    However, in response to the assertion that this campaign will discourage social mobility I'd just like to add that another strand of the campaign is to promote awareness of the part-time LPC, of bursaries and scholarships and of the ILEX route (www.ilex.org.uk), which are just as valid entry routes into the profession with considerably less cost.

    More information can also be found by contacting the Junior Lawyers Division helpline: 08000 856 131.

    Thanks.

    Beth Wanono

    Member of the Law Society Council

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  • Unfortunate but necessary. The legal market is saturated at the moment.

    Is it the fault of the LPC providers? Maybe. They are run like a business. The lure of the golden pot at the end of the rainbow if you fork out £10K is very appealing for those who haven't secure a TC before the LPC.

    But at the end of the day it's the suffering economy which has dictated things. Less deals and transactions, so less lawyers needed so less trainees needed. One minute lawyers were in hot demand and the next, there was an excess of them. That shift was very sudden.

    I hope things start to return to normal by the end of this year.

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  • What I would have appreciated before starting on the path to becoming a lawyer, not that it hindered me, is the fact city firms recruit almost entirely from the same select University’s – call this naïve, but I thought it was the individual merits of an individuals application that should matter.

    However, any one who thought they could swan into a job in the law with a 2:1 must have spent their University career in a cave.

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  • It important to be aware of what the legal profession is becoming and what it will be like in the years to come. Fewer qualified lawyers will be required. Look at the Halifax Legal Services existing web site to see what is going on now. Only only a small number of candidates will have careers in city firms which may deliver the Ally Mcbeal life style that may have inspired some of you to study law.

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  • Beth,
    I studied the ILEX route, followed by both the GDL and LPC part-time. Whilst they are superb alternative routes to qualifying as a lawyer (be that a Legal Exec. or solicitor if you choose to continue studying), almost no one in the city knows what ILEX is! I have had numerous interviews where I get congratulated on the effort involved with studying the GDL/LPC part-time, but have had to explain as many times, what ILEX is and how the route works. Not only do these alternative routes to qualification need to be more widely publicised to prospective students, but awareness of these by law firms must also be tackled. I now have 8 years of private practice experience under my belt, but I still have to explain why I didn't go to university and how I managed to qualify.

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  • The Law Society has known for years that there are more students than trainee positions but yet have waited until now to tell students to take caution!! Well what about people in my position who for several years have been trying to secure a training contract but to no avail and owe thousands due to expensive legal education, in my case £25,000 (excluding interest) - What do we do?
    To the contributor who said people should consider becoming legal executives, well until legal executives are regarded by the profession as equal to barristers and solicitors or there is a way for legal executives to become solicitors without having to do a training contract (contrary to what is said on the ILEX website) then I will consider becoming a legal executive. I am highly disappointed by the Law Society's advice who should be finding solutions for law graduates and doing all that it can to address the findings of the Milburn report.

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  • "the same select University’s"
    "an individuals application"
    I'm afraid it's indicative of the standard of less "select universities" that you can apparently obtain a law degree without even being able to punctuate properly.
    The absurdity of "degrees for all" means that the status of a degree in any subject is now hugely devalued.
    This makes it far harder to sort the wheat from the chaff, and a crude selection mechanism is needed to weed out a large proportion of applicants at the outset.
    The simplest way of doing so is to decide that you will only consider applicants who have been to one of the "select" universities. Yes, you may miss the occasional genius, but you will save an awful lot of time interviewing no hopers.

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  • Whilst I accept mistakes for poor punctuation (I thought we were in the mobile age where anything goes?) and your argument that degrees for all have made it more difficult to separate the “wheat from the chaff”, I insist that my point remains perfectly valid.

    Recruiting from a particular University might be useful as a HR time saving tool and as an important means of forging links. The reason for an individual picking a University can be for a variety of sensible and practical reasons. It makes a mockery of the application process which is intended to be fair and open to all - do you not agree?

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  • To Anon @ 10.42am.

    I am afraid that it is you sir/madam who appears to have been living in a cave. I knew aged 17 that pursuing a career as a solicitor with a decent firm is essentially a long uphill struggle without a degree from a prestigious/well respected University.

    I am currently passing the time with a paralegal role before commencing my TC. I work alongside a graveyard of individuals who have yet to secure one, who I have the ultimate sympathy for I might add as it's a bitch of a process. However, the gulf in class between those who attended "select Universities" to study their degrees and those who went to Keele or Nottingham Trent is blatantly obvious.

    I recall an anecdote from University where an essay was marked and awarded a third by a tutor at my University. As an experiment, it was later submitted via a friend in the city's former polytechnic where it achieved a 2.1. Another tale involves friends in lesser Universities answering multiple choice questions in an LLB exam. Comparing that to an essay question on Hedley Byrne v Heller pure economic loss is simply ridiculous.

    If people with mediocre academic backgrounds are annoyed, then they should blame the government for feeding them an unsustainable dream.

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  • Dear City Gent,

    Before criticising the grammatical knowledge of others, you may want to examine your use of commas. You too are unable to punctuate properly, as you do not appear to understand the relationship between commas and conjunctions.

    People on these message board often write in a hurry and do not bother spell-checking. I'm sure we all misspell words and punctuate poorly when in writing informally.

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  • Ah, but here's the problem City Gent: There are quite a few lawyers from "select universities" who can neither draft nor punctuate.

    Also, are you telling us that you will be able to tell from an interview whether someone can punctuate or not?

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  • To “Anonymous | 3-Aug-2009 4:27 pm”,
    I couldn’t agree more; more publicity to increase the perception of credibility is needed. Hopefully this will do something to help raise awareness. We shall see.
    To “Anonymous | 3-Aug-2009 4:35 pm”
    I’m sorry to have to correct you, but allow me to quote from the ILEX website:
    “Legal Executive lawyers have the option to become solicitors in one or two years after becoming Fellows and usually are exempt from the training contract graduates must complete to qualify as solicitors”.
    I also have severe debts and I completely sympathise. I apologise if you are hugely disappointed with the Law Society’s advice but I believe it is provoking a useful debate and will help people (even if only to a small extent) to avoid ending up in such a precarious, heavily indebted position in future.
    I think it is a good thing this is being openly discussed.
    If you would like any advice on obtaining a training contract please do contact the helpline I listed above.
    Thank you
    Beth

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  • Metallica's hit the nail on the head. The fact is that LPC providers will take anyone provided they cough up the spondulicks. We can see from the problems the Bar Council has had in trying to set up a competence test that competition is regarded as a 'dirty word' but the basic ,hard fact of the matter is that it exists.
    This year I've seen several graduates with 2:2's 'over the moon' to be 'accepted' to do the LPC. It's in their genes since school to see getting a place as getting a result and no one's able to tell them the ghastly truth which is that with a Desmond and a lacklustre CV they are about as likely to secure a TC as fly to the moon, plus their £10K plus does not secure a transferable qualification.
    The whole legal training business (for that is what it is) needs a radical shake-up.

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  • Beth,
    You said and I quote, "I’m sorry to have to correct you, but allow me to quote from the ILEX website:
    “Legal Executive lawyers have the option to become solicitors in one or two years after becoming Fellows and usually are exempt from the training contract graduates must complete to qualify as solicitors”.
    In reality the SRA (not ILEX) requires Fellows to complete a training contract before qualifing as a solicitor. I personally only know of one case where a legal executive was exempt from completing a training contract. You may want to read the article which was published by lawyer2b on 15 June 2009 called 'legal executives: an easier route into a career in law?' which debated this issue. I have already spent a lot of money studying the GDL and LPC I also attended a traditional redbrick university although not Oxbridge and I have been involved in some exciting high profile(sometimes international) legal work which even my trainee solicitors friends have not had the opportunity to experience so why then should I rate myself as second best by becoming a legal executive.
    The Law Society needs to pull its finger out and find a solution. Many talented graduates are now going abroad to pursue their legal careers in other jurisdictions and I'm considering doing the same. It is disappointing that in the 21st century we still have a legal profession where a majority of training partners think that it is perfectly suitable to recruit trainees who have attended an Oxbridge university having studied for a BA in history for only 6 hours a week for 3 years!! My cousin is doctor she went to a ex -poly but has been welcomed by her profession for her talents and not because of her socio-economic background. The medical profession has also seen a 55% increase in graduates over the last 5 years and manages to accommodate them!!

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  • Response:
    “I am afraid that it is you sir/madam who appears to have been living in a cave. I knew aged 17 that pursuing a career as a solicitor with a decent firm is essentially a long uphill struggle without a degree from a prestigious/well respected University”
    Well, the Law Society is going to great lengths to impress upon individuals the immense cost involved and the shrinking number of TC’s available. I believe they would be better off stating in your plain words: people with mediocre backgrounds are perhaps perusing an unsustainable dream.
    I think you will find many students are sold on the idea that achieving a 2:1 in law, anywhere, will provide you with a strong chance of securing a TC.
    I sadly believe you were more enlightened than ‘most’ at that age, not all, but most.

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  • Medicine and Law are professions which are entirely different. Law is not a mostly-homogenous state-run industry which can 'accommodate' graduates. It is a private, commercial industry with no unified (or mostly-unified) approach.
    Thank you for your comments though and I will look into your SRA point; However, I am aware of ILEX graduates who have qualified as solicitors without a training contract and I don't want to descend into trading anecdotes.
    I'd also like to disagree with you on your 'second best' point; at least the ILEX graduate would be earning and on the way to qualification. I also don't believe ILEX qualification would mean an inability to work on international cases; or in any way label you as some kind of 'failure'.
    I don't mean to rile you, though. If you are still searching for a training contract, please do consider using the JLD helpline; staff there may be able to point you in the right direction. There is no shame in using it.
    Good luck.

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  • Beth,
    If you are the person who is sitting behind the JLD helpline, the same helpline I have called in the past months and have either been put on hold or notbeen able to speak to someone then no wonder so many young and mature graduates are in the situation they are in. Lets face whether we like it or not legal executives are not seen in the same light as barristers and solicitors. My comment in regard to the medical profession was not intended to compare it with our profession but to make the point that the legal profession is not the only profession with more graduates than jobs available and both the BMA and BMC (where I used to work as paralegal) have managed to find solutions to this problem without having to discourage wannabe doctors or by reducing standards.
    In regard to JPD's comment well good for you for knowing at the age of 17 that securing a traineeship with a decent firm is an uphill struggle and I have been struggling for three years since finishing my LPC. I too was aware of this but it is pretty disheartening when you attend law school with people who have no idea about law but are offered a choice of four training contracts from top commercial firms not because they have demonstrated their skills through vacation placements or are particularly passionate about law but because they are related to former Prime Ministers or Viscounts.
    To the President of the Law Society there is no point calling for diversity if you are not prepared to enforce it!!

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  • Anon at 11.25am, I agree with everything that you said.
    Devil's Advocate, I believe that Metallica scored a 2.2 and managed to get a TC in the city... Although, he/she does seem comment on this site a lot, so I'm not sure about his level of productivity.
    I have a 2.1 in economics from a decent university and just completed the GDL at one of the 2 major providers in London. Many of my peers were Oxbridge graduates with 2.1's in classics, history, or philosophy. I can tell you that many of these 'geniuses' did not manage to pass the course first time around.
    I have been unable to secure a TC where many of my (Oxbridge) peers have been able to choose between 5-6 offers from top city firms. This is disappointing because, to be honest, I wasn't overly impressed with the calibre of my competition.
    I won't be wasting my money on the LPC and have chosen to head off to an overseas jurisdiction to qualify and subsequently practise.

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  • The LPC providers need to be a bit more honest with students.
    I did the LPC at BPP and we had students from former polytechs or students with 2.2s from the redbricks who were still being encouraged to apply to the City firms. Some of them were genuinely surprised when they were refused training contracts.
    I understand the LPC providers need to get as many students as possible to get the fees in, but surely this is a huge waste of resources.
    People need to be realistic about what they can achieve.
    The fact that you can get a law degree at all from a polytech is a complete joke. These are the students that slow down the learning on the LPC. Whenever our class needed to slow down so the teacher could explain something, you can guarantee it was a polytech student.

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