Pressure group: analysis on retention rates

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  • One issue most of the articles dealing with trainees neglect, is how difficult it is for some coming from abroad to even reach the role of a trainee. With training contracts having had become even more competitive than they used to, aspiring trainees with a solid, say, LLM with Merit (2:1) still have to go through the GDL and LPC route due to their foreign law degrees.

    Some aspiring trainees have already accumulated a debt close to £20k and paying another £20-30k (GDL, LPC, living costs, textbooks, clothing et cetera) out of their own pocket is simply not an option. Interestingly enough, LLM amounts to absolutely nothing in the UK and is hardly considered a degree at all (empiric experience speaks volumes of this), while in most other EU member states it has enough merit for one to actually penetrate the proverbial Berlin wall in order to gain indispensable legal experience.

    Then again, some of us European wish to stay in the UK for the rest of our lives and contribute to the highly rated legal profession in here in order to develop it further. However, it seems that those striving the most to leave their mark are ignored through de facto differential treatment.

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  • Anonymous @ 1:48. The advice for any aspiring lawyer, whether from the UK or Europe, is not to take on those debts without having first secured a training contract or the equivalent. Unless you want to do conveyancing or probate you're probably better off qualifying in your home jurisdiction before migrating anyway.

    You're right about the LLM being undervalued though.

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  • Anonymous @ 6:10. The debts taken were not however the crux of the matter. They were taken as a mere illustration of more than a common issue among law graduates / post-graduates.

    In my case, after graduating with LLM the working climate in legal field in my home jurisdiction simply deteriorated to a nigh oblivion, concentrating on lateral hires and PQE3+, thus I decided to stay in London to see how things pan out. Unfortunately, the situation isn't any better here either. I've looked seriously into paralegal type of work, but not having either of GDL or LPC once again creates an enormous stumbling block.

    The issue I have with this is: having had graduated with a degree concentrating on common law (Criminal law, tort, equity & trusts, property, tax etc.) I have the same legal knowledge as graduates in the UK do, and probably a bit more since I took the international and EU law route with enormous amount of courses in both disciplines (10+ and 5+ respectively). Add an LLM to that, and on paper I should be more than qualified to conduct paralegal work based on the two degrees. Add to that legal work experience from both the UK and my home jurisdiction. Oh, and I speak a myriad of languages on top of that.

    Nonetheless, it seems that those that have less experience and aren't as attractive on paper / reality simply get picked due to their degrees recognised in England & Wales, meaning there probably is at least a certain amount of de facto differential treatment.

    All in all, I duly understand why those with their degrees obtained in the UK are looked at more favourably over those having had graduated elsewhere. However, it makes the whole 'equal diversity' issue a bit crooked, undermining its value.

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  • I qualified as a solicitor a few years ago via the GDL and LPC route. I also have an LLM from London School of Economics. The LLM (which I did part time) was extremely fascinating and I have no regrets about the study. However it was of essentially no relevance to legal practise - the course was academic and thoughtful, but has not assisted me significantly as a solicitor. Both the GDL - and more so the LPC - stand in stark contrast to this.

    In my opinion the circumstances in which an LLM is relevant to legal practise is when it was taken by an already experienced practitioner in a niche area and relates to that niche. That is more likely to be a research-based LLM than a taught LLM.

    This should not be taken as comment on the particular difficulties those with foreign degrees face - simply as an explanation of the regard in which LLMs are held.

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  • Anonymous @ 9.39. Have you tried to get a training contract and then go through the QLTS and become a solicitor?

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  • Oliver Cook is under the impression that firms which pay their trainees £40k to £50k pa are billing them out at £100 an hour? Hardly a great advert for his consultancy, as that's frankly rididulous.

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  • The proper advice for any aspiring trainees would surely be to find a new career.

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  • No one ever said life was fair. Business is business and in tough times firms will do what they need to do to protect profits. Sure, wouldn't the world be a nicer place if everyone had an equal opportunity and if sponsorship and/or private wealth were not fairly important factors in one's ability to fund law school. But the fact is that for many people, including talented students, taking out a loan of around £15-20,000 is the only way to get through law school. On the basis that a trainee is good, then they should have a reasonable chance of getting a half-decent NQ job, in which case paying back the loan is possible without too much hardship. If they can't get an NQ job because the market is bad and/or they are not cut out for law, surely they should think twice before applying?

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  • Cutting costs (staff being the biggest) is only part of the problem. Firms have to look at the income side of the ledger and what business model is going to see them through the next 20 years. I see little evidence of either in the examples discussed here. The partnership model has in all probability run its course and given HR leverage levels now in wide use most if not all 4-15 PQE will NEVER become partners. Moreover many partners are going to get the 'chop' too as costs rise and profits flatline and/or fall. Interesting times! There are solutions though but...

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