Trainees for hire: SRA backs revolutionary plan

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  • This initiative also means, presumably, that trainees will qualify without having received a permanent offer at any of three firms that have hosted them?

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  • It's also a good wheeze to get around having to make redudancy payments if there's a change in the market within 12 months of a solicitor qualifying.

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  • "It is estimated that it costs a firm approximately £175,000 to recruit and train one graduate."

    By whom, and on what basis, please?

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  • Maybe I am missing something here, but to me this looks as though it will potentially harm the wider field of prospective trainees' interests. It suggests Acculaw will recruit a number of would-be solicitors during their final years of study into a kind of "pool", pay them less than they would earn as trainee employees of any City firm, seconding them out on an "as-needed" basis to those firms that would otherwise employ them (at a profit of course to Acculaw but at an overall saving to the firms concerned when recruitment and skills training costs are factored in), with firms incurring only short-term expenditure commitments as their businesses require. I don't understand what happens to those trainees as they qualify though - are they offered positions at firms they work at? What happens to those that aren't? I am sure this model creates more efficiency, but surely it narrows to the minimum the number of potential trainees in the market at any one point. Surely the oversupply of students wanting training contracts will still exist, just as it currently does? If the savings that firms make are put into taking on more secondees to address that oversupply, then this is fantastic, but surely the likelihood is that savings will appear on the bottom line instead. An interesting idea nevertheless...

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  • @Richard Adams

    I agree that they have not justified the figure, but considering all the marketing events/ law fairs at universities that firms participate in, advertising space, HR recruiters' salaries, trainees' salaries, other training staff salaries (e.g. I.T), external training providers that are brought in (e.g. for presentational training or networking training), I am sure many firms actually spend over 175k per trainee. Having been a trainee not so long ago (and without wishing to sound ungrateful), some of this is pointless expenditure.

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  • This approach will reduce social mobility in the legal profession.

    It's the poorest students who reach their training contract in desperate need of a good salary.

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  • @1PQE

    Well, yes, perhaps; but they should not overlook the income that trainees generate, which should be set against the cost of training them to achieve a realistic net figure

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  • The other problem with this model, unless I am mistaken, is that trainees who "do the rounds" of several firms is hardly great for client confidentiality in higher-profile matters, nor does it help in building relationships with members of firms, or gaining a true understanding of how a firm is more widely run. No-one can honestly argue that a trainee spending 6 months or less at a firm understands a firm (for the purpose of qualifying there) as well as someone who spends 2 entire years training there learning how departments interact and the dynamic that goes with that - something which can vary widely between firms.

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  • While it might (which I seriously doubt) cost £175,000 gross to recruit and train a graduate, the fees generated by trainees surely cover this cost several times over. Even at £100 per hour, on a 1,400 hour chargeable year, a trainee will have billed £280,000 over the two-year TC.

    In reality at City firms, trainees will be charged out at much higher rates and do much longer hours. At non-City firms, the costs of employing trainees will be much lower.

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  • What happens if the market decides it doesn't need trainees? (as happened in 2001-2003 and 2008-2011).

    Sitting in a law firm with no work is depressing enough... it must be worse if you're in a temp agency.

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  • I think there's a bit of a flaw here: firms invest an important commodity called time into their trainees with a view to retaining them, surely? This set-up doesn't allow for that?

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  • This business idea won't work
    1) For "as needed" work, firms hire paralegals. Trainees are an investment in the future. Why would any firm hire an experience trainee from Acculaw when they get an uptick in work, when they could hire a paralegal temp much cheaper?
    2) What happens if Acculaw run out of clients half way through someones training contract? Does the trainee just sit at home and wait for a new assignment? Without two years of solid work they won't qualify.
    3) Firms want/need to market for themselves to increase brand recognition amongst potential hires. Who wants to work for a firm no one has heard of??

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  • One assumes since Acculaw are recruiting from postgrad law schools that all graduates will be expected to foot the bill for their fees instead of firm sponsorship. Yet again the ugly topic of class divide raises its head and undoes the hard work of other initiatives.

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  • If this became the primary method of sourcing trainees - which is a big IF as it could become the supplement that temping is in many job markets - there is another negative impact on social mobility. Without the prospect of LPC sponsorship, the course would be prohibitive to those without private means, especially with the current shortfall in availability of commercial loans (hardly likely to be improved in such circumstances).

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  • And the SRA are backing the idea?.... Not sure who's more crazier them or Acculaw.

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  • I can't believe that Tony Angel is in support of such a harebrained scheme.

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  • If you remove the key incentives of trainees to work hard - make a good impression to your employer so that when you fixed term contract is up, they will offer you a permanent job - and replace this with the idea that you are working for a third party with no vested interest in you beyond the two year contract, I cannot see why any trainee other than the most desperate would see this as a good thing. Having a target market of desperate would be solicitors is fine, but not really a solution for anyone other than the CEO who has masterminded this - and has managed to get quotes from people who are no longer at the cutting edge.

    From the firm’s perspective, you get trainees - yes - but if your requirements are so variable - why not stick to paralegals? Trainees are supposed to be an investment in the future of the firm. Why would a partner spend time training someone who was going to move on with no long term future with the organisation. Peaks and troughs is part of the game from the top down - locums are pretty rare these days.

    So the desperate - they will have no choice and sign up. By definition, they will not be of the calibre of those who have secured a full contract at a chosen firm but at least they will be employed for 2 years (albeit at a low salary). Their issue will be on qualification - they will be qualified but unemployed. Whether they will be employable remains to be seen.

    An Acculaw - they will gain fees presumably on each secondment and also on placing the trainee with a full time position at the end. They will be taking no real risk other than interviewing - but it is laughable to think that their standards will be based on anything other than supply and demand. If they have demand for 100 they will hire 100 - if they have demand for 10, they will hire 10 - not much comfort for those who could service their needs from a paralegal.

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  • This is going to lower the quality of training contracts and dumb down the value of trainees.

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  • It has been very interesting reading your comments. The first thing I would do is urge you to take a look at Acculaw’s website www.acculaw.co.uk as this clarifies many of the queries raised.

    In response to the query of whether trainees will qualify without having received a permanent offer, this is currently the situation for all trainees working in any firm. The offer of a permanent job will come at the end of the training contract depending on how that trainee has performed throughout their contract. The same is true for an Acculaw trainee, however secondments will give them far greater opportunities to show potential employers what they are capable of rather than a one or two day interview process. The firms benefit from having far greater opportunities to determine whether an Acculaw trainee is right for them and similarly, trainees are also given the opportunity and more time to determine what fits them best.

    Acculaw only recruits trainees when there is a client requirement and trainees are recruited based on demand for legal services. By that I mean what the demand for legal services is in the next 12 months, not what the firm thinks it might be in the next 2-3 years which is currently what happens in the industry. Acculaw will not under any circumstances recruit trainees to add to a pool on the off-chance some work might come up for them. This would simply artificially delay the bottleneck to qualification. What the model does is allow firms to anticipate what their trainee and therefore qualified lawyer requirements are in much shorter time frames rather than trying to predict what it will be years in advance.

    It is important to highlight that a trainee will not be recruited by Acculaw unless sufficient commitment to that trainee has been given by an Acculaw client. That commitment is not just in terms of time but it terms of committing to treat and train an Acculaw trainee in exactly the same way as they would treat their own trainees. Firms need to make the same day-to-day training investment for Acculaw trainees and therefore it would not be commercially sensible for a firm not to consider an Acculaw trainee for a permanent position provided that trainee had demonstrated all the necessary skills, attitude and personality that a particular firm is after.

    The initial drive behind the Acculaw Trainee Model was to make the training of future lawyers more attractive to firms to entice them away from outsourcing much of their trainee level work to low cost jurisdictions. Shipping large volumes of this work abroad (resulting in further reductions in training contracts as demand in the UK reduces) whilst having 1000’s of intelligent, capable graduates desperate to do this work here surely doesn’t make sense?

    Acculaw is designed to increase social mobility. The model aims to help those who perhaps haven’t had as much guidance in corporate life or lack the initial confidence because they are not fully aware of what is expected of them. Applicants are not rejected solely because they can’t demonstrate a desire to be a lawyer from a young age. This is for the very simple fact that those from low income families who are unlikely to have a parent who is a professional/lawyer, will not have known much about a legal career at such a young age.
    Confidentiality is obviously taken very seriously. The issue of confidentiality is explained to Acculaw trainees in the same way as any trainee solicitor learns to understand and respect the confidentiality of any client. Additional safeguards are also in place to deal with the issue of confidentiality which is by no means new to the industry. It creates an inaccurate picture to say ‘when trainees ‘do the rounds’’. It is highly likely that an Acculaw trainee will work at 1 if not 2 firms for the duration of his/her training contract. The possibility of working for 3 firms really arises should a trainee wish to work for smaller niche practice firms where it will be necessary to work for possibly 3 firms to ensure SRA requirements are met as in the case in a typical consortium arrangement.

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  • Susan - I read your site. Good effort. But lets face it, you will recruit someone on the here and now once you get a client - as you dont want to pay for them unless you can second them somewhere. How does that line up with recruiting the best as it will be on an as and when basis? Paralegals are more flexible as they can work on a much more temporary or project driven basis.
    In relation to retention- even the bad firms run at 70%. What are the chances of a trainee being taken on at one of their first seats when they are long gone and working elsewhere? There is no ownership of these trainees. Will you be publishing your retention rates?
    You indicate on your site that you take out the cost. This is not correct - you actually add to the cost on the assumption that the salary would be the same (your fee). The cost of trainees comes in training time - and if yours are to be seconded to the firm they will also need investment and time spent on them. You also mention that the other costs they dont pay for is sick leave and holiday - but presumably this is just tied into your rate.
    The bast candidates will be snapped up and not readily available to start. Again - how does this allign with recruitment of the best if you are not fishing in the same pool as the majority if not all of the top 100 firms.
    Good luck to you - but dont kid yourself that this is anything more than it is .

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  • Who will pay for the PSC under the terms of this model?

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  • Susan:
    "secondments will give them far greater opportunities to show potential employers what they are capable of rather than a one or two day interview process"
    So rather than invest two years in a trainee and make a decision after that, an employer will find it easier to do so after a 6 month secondment? Really?
    "Acculaw only recruits trainees when there is a client requirement"
    The word trainee implies that their existence is to be TRAINED. If the client required a trainee i.e. an investment in the future of its firm, it will recruit one. If it needs temporary cover for legal work, it will use a (cheaper) paralegal.
    As your final two paragraphs, come on now, we know what Acculaw is designed for.

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  • Nick, thank you for your comments and for taking the time to look at our website. Acculaw recruits someone only once we have a client because it would be wrong on so many levels to recruit someone, give them false hope that they will finally become a qualified lawyer, and then tell them months later that there isn’t enough work for them. It is not correct therefore to say this is done because we don’t want to pay for them if we can’t second them somewhere. Acculaw IS responsible for paying for them if we can’t second them somewhere. We are also responsible for their PSC fees and external training that will be given.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, it is not our intention to artificially increase the number of trainees but to make the training of lawyers more attractive to firms so that they continue to train the number of lawyers needed in line with market demand rather than choose other options which I believe will be detrimental to the profession.

    Paralegals certainly have advantages but do not offer firms the same supply of qualified lawyers. Why would a firm exclude a trainee who has trained with them from the NQ selection process if that trainee shows real promise? Again, there seems to be the impression that a trainee will turn up for a couple of months at one firm and never work there again. That is not what will happen.

    We regards to your final point on the quality of candidates. I agree that the majority of very good candidates will be snapped up in the usual trainee recruitment round but can’t accept that the remaining graduates have no prospects of becoming exceptional lawyers.

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  • This scheme is just outsourcing of training. If I was a graduate I would run a mile. There's no job security.

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  • I think this sounds like a great opportunity. In response to some of the comments here - I have recently finished my LPC and while some of you feel the 'best' candidates have been taken I could not disagree more. Many of peers on the GDL and the LPC were more capable than peers who had tc's. The Acculaw concept allows capable grads to have the opportunity to showcase their legal capabilities. Firms only take you on if they like you having seen how you work.
    Furthermore Acculaw provides great chances for networking with fellow trainees within Acculaw as well as within the wider legal arena. Not only this, trainees will get the opportunity to see the mechanics of at least 2 different law firms. Far too often we grads are ill-educated about the reality of being a solicitor, especially in the City. With Acculaw one could experience different working environments while developing their skills even more than one would when working for just one law firm. You will have contact with a larger number of solicitors and potential practice areas. Far too often I have heard from in-house counsel that the main disadvantage of private practice is that you are pidgeon-holed into one practice area and not encouraged to try a variety of work. With Acculaw you can broaden your horizons as a trainee.

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  • Most of these comments ignore the reality of the current market in which firms are cutting or deferring training contracts as they are not sure enough of the economic outlook to have two year commitments with the issues about retention after qualification. They also ignore benefits to law students of being able to get a training contract rather than poorly paid and often short term paralegal position which does not provide experience of any type of meaningful legal experience. The potential to work at more than one firm will allow trainees to gain greater experience and allow them more of an opportunity to find a firm that wants to offer them a position on qualfication in the area they actually want to specialise in rather than just the area which the firm needs to staff.

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  • Having trained some years ago at a large city firm I now work in a small niche firm. I would have welcomed the opportunity of experiencing different firms and their styles of work as a trainee. If anything, these trainees are going to work harder to prove their ability and come to the attention of the firm they are seconded to – the comment that there is no incentive for them to work hard seems counter intuitive. Larger firms often offer seats in overseas offices or in house positions with their clients yet those trainees who take up those positions are not ‘forgotten’ and, indeed, the variety of the experience in their training is usually considered a benefit. It seems that the Acculaw model takes this position one step further. Moreover, it benefits the trainee more by allowing the trainee to have an insight into different cultures and styles of work, giving them a more informed choice.
    Stating that paralegals can fill the gap of increased work demands is not always a practical or economical answer to the increased work load. Firms invest time and money into paralegals as well and this can become ‘lost’ money. If a paralegal stands out, any offer of further work is inevitably on the same basis as the recruitment time for a training contract is two or three years in advance. This model overcomes that issue. That is not to say that there may be flaws but I welcome the fact that the SRA is open to alternative models.

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  • Acculaw will only survive if it makes a profit.
    The need to make, if not distribiute a profit creates a conflict with the interests of the client and the interests of the trainee.
    The fig leaf of 'increasing social mobility' really is insufficient cover for the all to obvious flaws in this scheme.
    Your suggestion that your services are required to 'make training more attractive to firms' would suggest that firms don't find recruiting trainees sufficiently atractive at present; which I find our questionable accuracy but ner'er mind, please explain how paying your fees on top of what they might have paid the trainee make providing a TC more attractive?
    Call me a cynic but this stinks of a scheme to allow the CoL & BPP to continue to offer a volume of LPC places which has no relationship to the number of TC's available.

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  • This is a actually a really practical idea. Law firms are clearly looking for more flexibility, and any opportunity to increase the number training contracts has to be a good thing for students.

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  • I'm pretty impressed by this. I've long felt that the current training system is anachronistic. This seems to suit those who are desperate to become lawyers and yet have been let down by the box-ticking training recruitment system used by so many firms. Of course there are going to be creases to iron out but I think Susan Cooper should be applauded. After the recent recession the trainee uptake was slashed so in a few years there is going to be a call for newly qualifieds which cannot be met by the recruitment of students whilst they're still at university. As the above post mentions, flexibility is they key and it's great to see that the SRA are finally coming to terms with this concept.

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  • I agree with the comments here totally. Susan - how will this alleviate the "bottleneck" of trainees you refer to on qualification? Surely Acculaw is no better placed to anticipate the legal market's need for trainees than any law firm? Doesn't the model described simply shift the bottleneck to another place? Firms don't have any "skin in the game" if, for example, one month they can take on 50 trainees and 6 months later cut that down to 30 at the drop of a hat. Once trainees are taken into the system, they can't simply be left idle half way through their training where firms decide there isn't a business need to recruit more trainees from one 6-month period to another. There is surely no guarantee that once a trainee is taken on by Acculaw they will be seconded to a firm.
    Also, you suggest in your reply that this model will benefit trainees more than the current process in respect of demonstrating their capabilities. I can't see how being moved from one firm to another every 6 months is anything other than disadvantageous to trainees, particularly when it comes to firms deciding who qualification positions will be offered to. You say that "secondments will give them far greater opportunities to show potential employers what they are capable of rather than a one or two day interview process." However, your point overlooks the fact that in a traditional training contract, 2 years' worth of feedback has been accumulated prior to that one or two day interview process. More time spent in a firm (i.e. 2 years, instead of one 6 month secondment to a single department) not only helps trainees get a much greater understanding of a firm (thereby assisting them in convincing an interviewing partner that they know the firm well enough to make an informed choice which won't have them walking out the door in a year's time after qualifying), as well as allowing the partner to gather enough feedback from several teams in the firm to make an informed choice that they have the best candidate for the job. This is even more important in the context of firms' "flagship" teams, especially those that are central to a firm's departmental network (here I am thinking of the corporate teams of some MC firms).
    Being honest, I can't see this will help the majority of trainees. I agree it may assist firms in lowering expenditure, but I am struggling to see how this can be achieved without prejudicing trainees.

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  • I can see the appeal of the flexibility of Acculaw's arrangements. Surely this is not a replacement for the current training contract structure but an additional parallel arrangement. I can understand the concerns of law students that they may end up with a transactional relationship with firms rather than the mythical closer relationship that may otherwise exist. However, I suspect that the market is moving towards that anyway. With the likes of Google refusing to pay for trainee work (or junior solicitor) work for that matter, the professional structures in law firms are under pressure and there may well be a significant increase in outsourcing generally. Acculaw appears to offer an innovative solution which may run alongside traditional trainee contracts and LPOs and as such should be encouraged.

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  • I was due to start my training contract this month and had it withdrawn due to financial problems at the firm I was due to start at.
    Even in the horrible situation I am in, I still cannot bring myself to apply to Acculaw - we have no idea how employable (if at all) these "trainees" will be after 2 years. Whatever the retoric Susan makes, law firms are a traditional bunch, and a recruiter asked to chose between the candidate who trained at 1 firm in a normal way is a known quantity - this new "rent a trainee" is not.
    I'm not saying it couldn't work. Maybe 5 years down the line it will be acceptable as a training method, but right now it seems like you might be playing russian roulette with your career with no idea of your employability at the end.

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  • Seems to me that the real revolution would be to ditch TC's. Once a graduate completes their law studies and the LPC they should be automatically qualified. They then should be able to setup their own business and develop it from there. Much like in the US.
    It's obvious that TC's are a why of limiting who gets into the profession and keeps fees artificially high by having less competition - those that qualify can setup a firm and as it develops hire individuals who have experience in different fields and learn from them.
    Plus isn't the TC, and this type of initiative, undermined by the continual hiring of overseas qualified lawyers (mostly from Oz and NZ). Law firms hire them for less money and they get around not knowing English law by signing off work with "qualified in [insert jurisdiction]". These lawyers have little or no experience and then after 2 yrs do the QLTT and hey presto they are English qualified. This makes a mockery of the current system and proves that TCs should be abandoned for auto qualification upon completing your academic studies.
    You would also break the old boys network as you would have people from all backgrounds becoming qualified and not subject to the blatant discrimination that currently occurs.

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  • Even if this model works and other intermediaries such as AccuLaw enter the market and enough firms are willing to become involved in these work placements or training contracts are the SRA not simply moving the problem around from an over supply of trainee solicitors to an over supply of qualified solicitors? Is the SRA proposing to reduce the period of qualification to allow newly qualified solicitors to set up their own firms? Will there be any quality control anymore? Will prospective employers of newly qualified solicitors trust this method of training? I am all for widening the legal market in anyway possible but it strikes me that there should be more than one solution available to help graduates who have spent a lot of money on their legal education and cannot find jobs.

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  • Acculaw are in reality acting as an employment agency. Won't Acculaw trainees be entitled to the equivalent host firm rate for the trainees after 12 weeks?

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  • Sounds suspiciously like an agency or gang master arrangement. Cuts all sorts of things doesn't it including a fair salary, terms and conditions. So why is the training for this so expensive? Is this the best law firms can do? As a client I would want to know why fees are so high when employees are so cheap? Can we refer this to the relevant government department? It needs scrutiny

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  • I don't see how this is anything other than buying a timeshare in a trainee.

    If a firm wants to give up its commitment to training - I get that. But why then would they take on homeless trainees? For what benefit?

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  • I am not surprised reading some of the comments above, they must come from the typical people working at HR departments etc fearing for their jobs!!

    The new Acculaw model is brilliant, it serves everyone's interests indeed, keen graduates as well as law firms in all aspects- the idea is simply filling the majority of gaps in the current legal industry which we have stood for long enough!
    Of course, only trainees who proved themselves worthy will get the opportunity to stay within one of the firms, which is exactly the case within any other profession anyways!
    An Acculaw trainee left without a permanet position may well reconsider his or her career perspectives or just go on and apply for a different position at a different law firm- in the end of the day the particular law firm will have to provide the best possible services to their clients, too! If they believe they'd work better without them trainees, well, that's one has to take on boat and rather appreciate the fact he or she was given the opportunity to qualify as solicitor, and then probably go on and apply to different firms- nobody has ever said the route to success was easy and the keen trainee will work hard to get where he or she wants to be!

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  • A six-month seat in any given area of law is barely enough time to a) fully get to grips with the work and b) really show what one's capable of, so how on earth will anybody be able to gain the necessary experience in a three-month placement?

    This idea may sound attractive to struggling firms desperate to reduce costs in poor economic climes, therefore there will undoubtedly be a market for it over the next 5 years or so. However, once the economy picks up the whole idea will become a distant memory. Decent firms should want to nurture and mould their future solicitors over a two-year period.

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  • We all know that the general probation time lasts 3 months within any other profession- why should this be so different within the legal profession? It seems a three month placement has been regarded as sufficient to demonstrate one's capabilities to a potential employer- who are we to judge over someone's believe to be capable of proving someone his or her capacities in three months time? How can you just decide and close all doors to some really ambitious graduates? If they believe they can do it, let them do it! The future will show! I strongly doubt the new model could make things any worse than they already are!

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  • I am still struggling with part of the business model.

    Firm A takes on 30 Acculaw trainees and firm B takes on 20 Acculaw trainees for 3 months, the minimum guarranteed period. After 3 months Firm A decides to drop 15 trainees due to work-flow problems but Firm B picks up 5 of them due to increasing need. What happens to the remaining 10 if Firms C,D,E etc cannot accomodate them?

    The entire business model is based upon Acculaw recruiting the exact number of trainees required (not a huge problem) and then retaining that exact number in firms when the firms can simply drop the trainees at any point. I don't see how this can possibly be managed so there will be a large number of trainees floating about with 3,6,12 months under their belts but then no job, no pay and no security for months on end, if ever again.

    The whole thing sounds horrendous and shame on those firms (Olswang take note) that agree to the model simply to trim a few quid of the bottom line to bolster PEP.

    It's short-termism in a way that would make a banker blush! These people are supposed to be the future of the firm and the industry!

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  • This is an interesting and clearly novel idea. Like any such idea it needs a decent level of challenge and scrutiny to ensure it is the right thing to do (and that challenge should come from the perspective of both the profession and the individuals that will be part of this). It has clearly been challenged from the profession's perspective - I can't imagine it is an easy feat to obtain approval from the SRA (or any other regulatory body) for a completely new way of doing things. From the perspectve of the individual, I think we need to step back and look at this in light of the realities of our industry:
    1. in terms of Acculaw being profit-making, why does that matter? What do you think a lawfirm (and its partners) are in business for? We have partners at certain firms that earn in excess of £2m a year. That may be obscene but this is the industry in which we all work. Why are we all here? Yes, we like the job but we also do it because it is a well paid and well respected profession. Logically, I don't see why Acculaw should be criticised for seeking to make a profit
    2. does becoming an Acculaw trainee lead to a lower chance of obtaining a job on qualification? Difficult to say but not a real point in my eyes because even if you have a training contract at a firm, I think we have all seen, through the retention rates over the last few years (which are, I suspect, massaged by certain firms), that a training contract is no guarantee of a job on qualification. Getting a job is all about excelling which comes down to a number of factors (right type of work for your skills , great attitude, right culture for you etc). Going to multiple firms through Acculaw seems to me to open up the opportunity to find the right place at which you can excel
    3. there are plenty of people out there who are paying their own way through law school and the GDL because they don't yet have training contracts. That doesn't mean these people are not potentially great lawyers. Signing up to this proposal (1) gives you a reasonable starting income (2) you will get trained (3) and gives you exposure to firms you might never otherwise get exposure to and you get such exposure in the capacity as a trainee. What's the alternative? You become a paralegal, in which case you aren't working towards qualification, you aren't getting training and you aren't getting exposure to law firms who will always find space for a trainee/lawyer they hit it off with and is good. On that basis, this seems to be opening up the profession to me rather than limiting opportunities
    4. there are several comments above about the profession being oversubscribed. I don't have the stas so can't comment but the Acculaw business doesn't on its face doesn't increase that issue. It is neutral at worst and potential slightly beneficial. After all, Clifford Chance either take on 100 odd trainees themselves or they take on 90 and let Acculaw take on 10 for them. In the conext of, say, major corporates or banks (who in the current climate are increasing their legal teams) this opportunity may just encourage them to give more serious thought to a trainee programme
    5. if I could have my time again, the biggest single thing I regret is not having the opportunity to sample diffferent types of firms before I joined one. A day spent at a firm gives you a feel but not enough to make a decision on whether it is absolutely the right place for you for the next 2 years. If Acculaw manages to sign up with a decent number of firms, it would be interesting to be able to try before you buy ie to be able to sample, for example, a magic circle firm, the London office of a US firm, a large non-magic circle international firm and a smaller and more dynamic/focussed firm such as Olswang. If you back yourself to succeed and have the confidence then this is a definite plus point
    5. the market is changing and will look massively different in 10 years for obvious reasons. I don't think the traditional way of doing things in the legal profession will continue to be the right way - challenging the norm and challenging firms to evolve is critical to the future success of our industry. This business idea has clearly made people sit up and will challenge the norm - it should therefore be applauded and for that reason alone I think Susan Cooper deserves a pat on the back.

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  • If, as the article states, trainees will be taken on by a minimum of 3 firms, for a minimum of 3 months at each firm, the overall minimum time that trainees will spend in law firms under this scheme as 'trainees' is 9 months.
    So what happens the rest of the time? Say there is a gap between placements...would the trainees sit at home, or would they be farmed out as paralegals in the meantime?
    Is there a time limit on how long a 'trainee' can remain a trainee at Acculaw? Would it be possible to keep a trainee who started and did 3 months somewhere, then had 18 months of of nothing (or paralegal work), and then because of market forces could only fit in another 3 months, meaning they were short of trainee experience and couldn't 'qualify'...or is there no time limit, and so theoretically, in order to accomodate 'market flexibility' could a traineeship go on for the limit of the validity of the LPC (5 years, I believe?)
    How will the sufficiency of the training be signed off; I'm not sure of the rules, but could someone do their 9 months and would that then mean they have completed an 'accelerated' training contract, or do they still have to do two years...if so, what happens during the other 15 months when they might not be working in a law firm?
    Also is the salary a salary which gets paid monthly, or would trainees only be paid the £20k for the time they spent in law firms, and not sitting at home/working as a paralegal?
    Lots of questions, and no answers.... it doesn't sound very good for the trainees, is all I can think. What a lonely existence.

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  • So far only Olswang has put its head above the parapet. I would like to see the names of the others who think this is a good idea. There is no nurturing of trainees to be had under this model and let no one be fooled.
    Lets just say by some good fortune a trainee got four 6 month seats at four law firms, but no NQ offer. The trainee applies for a NQ job a different firm (Firm Five) and gets an interview. The interviewer will presumably want to know why none of the four firms appealed to the trainee. The trainee then admits that all of them did appeal, but none made an offer. I can just see Firm Five jumping at the opportunity to hire this person, can't you? It would be even worse if the trainee said none of the firms appealed. Firm Five would just think this person has no idea and will probably disappear in a few months since he/she does not appear to find any law firm meets his/her standards.

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  • Does this "Acculaw will recruit its own trainees from postgraduate law schools" mean that one has to study on postgraduate course in order to get the TC? what about students studying on GDL? it means students will have to fund themselves for GDL and LPC, is that what they mean? it make even more impossible for young people to build the career in law.

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