Last month Kearns Solicitors placed an advert in Counsel magazine seeking LPC and BPTC graduates to work as "court advocates". Applicants who got through the CV and cover letter sift were invited to complete a gruelling four-page test – available here – within seven days.
When a Bar graduate (who contacted me anonymously last week) completed the test – and passed – she got this response...
Many thanks for submitting your legal assessment, which you duly passed and for indicating your interest in joining our panel of advocates.
Unfortunately, we have sufficient advocates to take up the volume of instructions we receive to attend hearings for that area.
Under the circumstances, we regret that we are unable to take your application further at this stage.
Why have the candidate do the test when there were no jobs available in the vicinity of the large city where she lives?
Over to Kearns Solicitors senior partner Robert Kearns:
"We take the point and will make sure that we check the home address on CVs in future and let potential advocates know if we are likely to have sufficient cover in that area," he told Legal Cheek.
Surprisingly, there’s nothing to stop law firms from acting carelessly towards graduates as the protection of the legal profession’s regulators doesn’t extend to cover those without pupillages or training contracts – hence the legality of the infamous Aston Carter pay-£9K-to-be-a-paralegal scheme.
"I am afraid that we have no powers to interfere," a spokesperson from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) explained to me, adding: "Until individuals obtain a training contract, they do not fall within our remit." A representative from the Bar Council confirmed that they are similarly restricted in their ability to offer assistance.