Law Society to students: legal career may be too risky

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  • I think it is a good idea to warn of the dangers, as long as it does not give too much of a detriment to the profession. I studied my degree at a 'non respected' University, and then went onto complete my BVC. There have always been difficulties in getting pupillage and or training contracts, this will never change. What is important is the social skills as well as academic skills of a person. More often than not, someone with life experience can do far better than someone that has been fed by their parents. Further, if a student wants a career in law, nothing will stop their determination.

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  • I think what needs to happen is LPC numbers should be restricted to roughly match the number of annual training contracts, in much the same way that number of places on teaching courses are decided. There is no doubt that too many institutions are currently using, especially GDL, and some LPC courses merely to make money. Entry standards should rise for GDL courses, and institutions should stop deceiving people from low ranked universities, with poor alevels and a poor degree, that they have a chance of earning £100,000 a year as a solicitor in the city.

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  • It is completely incorrect to state that the Diploma in Legal Practice at Scottish universities which offer it do not accept candidates who have not secured a training contract. May I recommend that the author does some research.

    From the Law Society of Scotland's Diploma web page:

    "It should also be noted that gaining a place on, or successful completion of, a Diploma course does NOT guarantee a training contract or future employment in the legal profession in Scotland."

    http://www.lawscot.org.uk/training/Diploma.aspx

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  • Another thing. If there are too many people coming out of the LLB/LPC, then why are firms up in arms over the government's plans to make it harder to recruit lawyers from overseas? Many firms poach overseas lawyers straight out of law school (or shortly thereafter) to come to London to do work which could easily be done by a UK lawyer. I guess the firms are saved the expense of training them, but many (not all) of these lawyers come from jurisdictions where one qualifies straight out of law school without having done a 2 year training period. However, these same firms are reluctant to support a reform of UK legal education so that it becomes a postgrad degree without the need for a training contract. What gives?

    These firms are constantly saying that they need to recruit from overseas - even for UK based roles which are not foreign legal consultant roles i.e to practise English law - because there just aren't enough people coming out of UK law schools!

    For some reason UK law firms (much like the medical profession) would prefer to hire qualified overseas lawyers, thereby evading the expense of training them, and shafting UK law students! Even though UK legal training (6 years) is some of the most extensive there is in the commonlaw world which involves 2 years on-the-job experience. Meanwhile, UK law students are largely barred from working in those countries which export lawyers to the UK. It's a very one way street.

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  • I worked for various firms of solitors for over 30 years, starting in a small general practice and then sort training in civil litigation.
    Many of those contributing to this article seem to have lost sight of the fact that places in solicitors offices are not readily available or they need staff to do a highly qualified job.
    A very important piece of evidence has not been
    referred to namely circulars that were sent out by the Law Society questioning its members about their state of mind to being a solicitor in private practise. The last article I read revealed that over 90% would like a job in another industry. Many of them regretted having qualified as a solicitor.
    A recent televisiton program dealt with the difficulties newly admitted counsel were having in getting a tenancy. Those who did not get a tenancy were several hundred.
    There are simply far too many students who chose a career in law without making any enquiries or taking advice upon what specialised knowledge they will need to persuade solicitors to offer them a job.
    At fee earners meetings and privately I criticised my principal for employing staff who were low grade and who should never have been on his pay roll. I do give him credit for giving men and women from working clasws backgrounds the opportunity of pursuing a career in law or merely providing them with a job. But, when it became apparent that they were not suitable for his firm he accused me of not giving them a fair chance. Two of the junior staff simply disappeared and we did not hear from them again. There was a career for the young lad but he told me in private law was not for him.
    Another bad case was of a father pushing his son into a carear in law when he was totally and wholly unsuitable for that kind of work. I was given the task of taking him out to lunch whatever the cost and to ask that he does not ask for a reference or make contact with the firm. I elicited that his father was the MD of of a successful company and wanted an in house solicitor. the guy had a law degree. Eventually I persuaded the guy that his father had done him a dis-service and he should look for another career. He returned to his job as a manager in a telephone call centre.
    In another case he employed a female solicitor who had re-deployed to the midlands. After 3-4 months I asked my principal to review her position because I had formed the view she would never make the grade. Almost 6 years later, my principal arrived in my room with a very worried look on his face - he had just received a letter from another firm of solicitors with a claim in negligence for £l.5m arising out of a property transaction. She was asked to remain on garden leave and did not return. The way in which my principal corresponded with her left a lot to be desired.
    I had the inenviable task of taking over a large number of her files and the quality of her worked merited 10 marks out of a hundred. One District Judge gave me a tough time and in one particular case he apologized to my adversary, saying it was with regret he had to make a order against his client. It then became evident that in her careert with my principal, she never appeared before a district judge. I came across files were she had instructed counsel to appear on a county court summons for directions time after time again.
    Therewere other similar instances and I ultimately adopted the stance that he/she goes or I do.
    In the 32 years I conducted civil litigation, mostly at the behest of insurance companies. I had the misfortune to come across well over 100 legal practitioners who should have been in other employment and a few of them were cirsuit judges and district judges.

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  • Jack Vance, you make several good points. However I do not believe that in the US the route to law is any less fraught with obstacles than in the UK. Maybe ultimately obtaining a license after having completed study is less regulated / centralised (ie. you just do the bar exam and don't need to have completed a training contract). However, it takes seven years and much expense - a 4 year undergrad degree, the LSAT exams, then a 3 year law degree, which is usually incredibly expensive. You start earning and income after *seven* years. In contrast, in the UK, you start earning an income after just four years - after 3 years doing your law degree and 1 year doing the LPC. I would think that law is just as hard to break into for low income students in the US.

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  • It's not just difficult for those with "average A levels and noddy degrees from Noddy universities". It might be difficult even for those with stellar A Levels and first class degrees from top universities. Like another poster said, personality, drive and people skills count! Intellect and technical ability is not the be-all and end-all.

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  • This may sound harsh but students that take the risk of taking on substantial debts to enter a saturated profession can only blame themselves.

    The only benefit to some students is that they may learn a significant lesson and would be unlikely to repeat the mistake in the future.

    My advice to those that are in substantial debt without a a TC would be to declare yourselves bankrupt and get rid of your debts.

    After that, they can start over and pick a less risky career. Ideally young people should look to move into what is in demand.

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  • this may then be a good time for those with current training and no paying job yet to apply their newly qualified legal skills into a socially positive context
    if anyone is interested in working on the Forensics of Legal Fraud, please get in touch!
    bradmeyer@collaboration.co.uk

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  • Mr "Reid". I have showed enthusiasm and have completed lots of work experience. I even lecture at university part time and yet I am still unable to even have a whiff of pupillage. What more can I do?
    I have undertaken a multitude of jobs and am more than able to show that I have a variety of skills. The chance you talk of must be very very small indeed.

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