Trainees’ two-month itch

The job market stinks and we know it. Even for those ‘tick all the boxes’ law graduates fortunate enough to win a training contract – the holy grail for would-be solicitors – bad news keeps tumbling in.

This time the rot comes in the shape of fixed-term contracts for NQs, with some trainees being awarded employment contracts for all of two months once they qualify.

Of course, the firms that have been dishing these contracts out – US firms Mayer Brown and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe are thought to be among them – haven’t been making a song and dance about it. Orrick told us it would not comment on employment terms while Mayer Brown, which last September offered two trainees contracts of two and six months respectively, said this “isn’t an approach we normally take”.

It isn’t just these firms that are eschewing long-term commitments, though. Travers Smith offered five NQs fixed-term contracts of between two and 12 months last summer, with one trainee claiming pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal after being offered a contract of two months.

While it’s arguably better to be offered some work than none at all, life is becoming harder for first-time job seekers. And with training contracts becoming increasingly difficult to get in the first place, perhaps firms should start ticking all the boxes too.


Also on The Lawyer:

  • Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens is hiring seven partners from Semple Fraser, which filed notice to appoint administrators earlier this week
  • Dundas & Wilson and Weightmans have joined Maclays in snapping up parts of Semple Fraser, but 62 staff from the collapsed Scottish firm will still be left out in the cold
  • And, the country’s highest court will decide whether LLP members should be protected by whistleblowing legislation in a snowballing legal battle between Clyde & Co and former partner Krista Bates van Winkelhof