Beleaguered law students face paralegal KO

PARALEGALS are in danger of being edged out of a shrinking jobs market as recruiters offer positions to those who have had their training contracts deferred.

Hannah Jackson, a senior recruitment consultant at Hays Legal specialising in placing paralegals said: “We’re only looking at candidates who have training contracts. It’s sad because you see so many cases of wasted talent who can’t get the experience they need on their CV.”

This will come as a blow to students who are already struggling to win training contracts in the troubled market.

Yvonne Robinson, who is studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at BPP Law School, said: “Paralegal ­positions are only being offered to deferred trainees, which means there are less opportunities for LPC graduates who want to gain experience to secure a training contract.”

The news comes after exclusive research by The Lawyer’s sister magazine Lawyer 2B showed that many top City firms have slashed the number of paralegals they are hiring.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has cut its paralegal ranks by nearly 30 per cent – from 94 in 2008 down to 66 this year – while Linklaters has slashed its paralegal workforce by 23 per cent from 43 to 33.

Allen & Overy has bucked this trend, and now has 146 paralegals this year compared with 150 in 2008.

Clifford Chance, which had 110 paralegals in London last year, was unable to confirm the number it currently employs.