Firms should inform trainees whether they will be kept on at the end of their training at least two months before its end, the Law Society has said.
The Society has issued the new guidance in response to concerns from the Junior Lawyers Division that trainees were being kept hanging by firms.
The guidance states that, as part of good practice, employers of trainee solicitors should:
- no later than 12 weeks prior to a trainee solicitor’s expected admission date, inform the individual of a time at which they can expect to receive their employer’s decision;
- no later than eight weeks prior to a trainee solicitor’s expected admission date, inform the individual of their decision; and
- in the event that an employer is unable to provide the information set out in the first two bullet points within the recommended timeframe, the employer should inform the trainee that they are unable to do so and, where possible, provide reasonable information as to why it is not possible at that time.
Law firms’ retention processes differ wildly, with some requiring job interviews and tests as part of the qualification process, while others have a much more informal approach amounting to little more than a tap on the shoulder.
Some firms also take much longer than others to sort trainee qualification out each year. Last year, Burges Salmon had offered all of its 28 autumn-qualifying trainees jobs by April, while Baker & McKenzie only got round to announcing its final result at the end of September – though trainees themselves can delay the process by prevaricating on whether to accept job offers or not.