Mar 9

Qualifications, the law and training contracts – is it all worth it?

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Are you a student looking for a training contract? Working as a paralegal for minimum wage with no end in sight? You may want to read on…

The Numbers

  • In 2014, 5514 trainee solicitors were registered.
  • In the 2012/2013 academic year 6171 students completed their Legal Practice Course (LPC).
  • Working on this year’s figures, this leaves a deficit of 657 legally qualified individuals with no training contract.
  • Every year hundreds of LPC graduates join the search for training contacts. These join the hundreds, if not thousands that are still looking for training contracts from previous years.

What can be done?

It has been suggested by the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division that institutions provide students with better statistical data before starting the LPC. If students knew these figures, they would be able to gauge their real prospects of success in securing a training contract within a reasonable period of finishing the LPC. This might encourage only the most dedicated students to enroll, and leaving these students more able to secure their desired training contract.

As an alternative, law firms could increase the number of trainee positions available. This would be facilitated by law firms growing and recruiting for the future of the business.

Some more facts and figures:

  • The minimum salary of £18,590 per year for training contracts based in central London and £16,650 for those outside the capital, was abolished in 2014.
  • From 01/07/2014 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) removed the need for training contracts to be registered after which trainees taken on by a firm would be deemed in a ‘period of recognised training’. This is the final stage of the qualifying process and involves working as a trainee solicitor in a firm of solicitors or other organisation authorised to take trainees. The training period is two years, although it can be reduced if you have suitable and relevant previous legal experience.

Top Tips

  • Many firms (especially larger/commercial firms) look to fill training places two years in advance. Law students should start applying during the final term of the second year of their law degree. Non-law students should apply before starting the Common Professional Examination (CPE)/Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
  • At any stage in your search do not just rely on sending out your CV: create opportunities for yourself, join networking events, think of who you know who knows a lawyer or someone who works in a law firm or any other relevant organisastion that you can join.
  • Undertake work experience during your studies and get your face known (don’t forget voluntary work at places such as the Citizens Advice Bureau- your law school should be able to put you in contact).

    Last but not least…..don’t give up! It may be a long haul but a very rewarding career lies at the end of the road and all experience and qualifications acquired in the process will, in the long term, make you a better solicitor.