City firms face the prospect of a year with no trainees after the Law Society refused to allow students unable to graduate because of striking lecturers entry onto the LPC or GDL.
The lecturers’ pay dispute has affected universities across the country, with academics refusing to mark final exams. Law students are among the most seriously affected because of stringent Law Society regulations.
The Law Society issued a stark warning last week, saying students who do not complete their undergraduate degrees will not be able to start the next stage of their training to become a solicitor.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer global head of graduate recruitment Deborah Dalgleish said: “It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen. But if the strikes drag on, then the Law Society will need to think further about this.
“There’s an awful lot at stake. There must be a sensible way forward.”
She added that the magic circle firm will not withdraw training contracts from students who do not graduate.
The University of Birmingham has postponed 16 exams and cancelled one, while Nottingham has confirmed that it has also cancelled exams.
Other universities contacted by The Lawyer said exams have been set, but expressed concerns about whether or not papers will be marked on time for students to graduate.
Some of the universities, including Cambridge, Durham, Nottingham and Warwick, expect students to graduate this summer, but in some cases they will not receive a degree classification. The typical minimum entry requirement for training contracts is a 2:1.
Law schools are also fearful about the impact of the dispute. College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage urged the Law Society to relax its rules.
“Students affected should be permitted to start the LPC,” said Savage. A spokesman from Exeter University said: “There will be a meeting with the vice-chancellor to discuss what action will be taken if staff refuse to perform part of their duties during the strike.”