Trainees for hire: SRA backs revolutionary plan

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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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