Exclusive: In the latest sign of how hard law firms are being hit by government reforms to legal aid, leading criminal outfit TV Edwards has been forced to let two paralegals go just weeks after it had paid for their police station accreditation training...
The paralegals had apparently taken the decision to pay for their training – which cost a collective £1,000 – as a signal that they had at least medium term futures at TV Edwards
And indeed, that had been the plan, until the spectre of price-competitive tendering (PCT) caused the firm to think again.
TV Edwards senior partner Anthony Edwards told Legal Cheek:
"Two probationary contracts have not been made permanent. We had also hoped to keep them on given that [police station accreditation training] investment, but under PCT we will have to reduce our caseloads."
Expect more redundancies at other criminal and family law firms as they gear up for the new PCT bidding process, under which far fewer legal aid contracts will be available than in the past.
As the odds of landing a training contract or pupillage grow longer, and wannabe lawyers become increasingly desperate, the, er, entrepreneurs keep circling. First there was Aston Carter's infamous pay-to-be-a-paralegal scheme, next came Tooks barristers' notorious £186 pupillage application advice event. And now there's the "New York Dream Career Program", as part of which London-based company Web Legal Education is asking UK wannabe lawyers to part with £499 for two paralegal job interviews...
Here's the "New York Dream Career Program" blurb in full (as outlined in a recent sponsored Lawyer2B email which was kindly forwarded to Legal Cheek):
So that's £500 for a couple of job interviews with no guarantee of a job.
Fancy something more secure? Well, for a mere £299 Web Legal Education is offering a "virtual internship" with a US law firm, which seems a lot to pay to sit at home in front of your computer. Alternatively, for £500 there's the "New York Physical Internship" – for which flights are again not included.
When we contacted Web Legal Education, a spokesperson for the company said: "People can do our programmes or not. It's not about getting a training contract. It's about getting a job in America. If you want to work in America, you're going to find it very difficult, perhaps nigh on impossible, to start a career. You don't have the contacts and you can't just post off your CV. We offer these services because there is a demand for them."
Unfortunately, Web Legal Education doesn't offer any magical way to circumvent strict US work permit laws. But hey ho. There's more on geographicals – and why not to do them – here.
Anthony Lyons is a charming, intelligent part-time LPC student who works as a paralegal at top London law firm Mishcon de Reya. What's more, Lyons boasts an entrepreneurial zeal, organising the #AskaTrainee Twitter Q&A through his impressive social media following. In short, he's the sort of person who you'd expect to walk into a training contract – if, that is, he hadn't got a 2:2 in his degree...
Legal Cheek editor Alex Aldridge and Bircham Dyson Bell solicitor Kevin Poulter advise Lyons (pictured) on strategies for getting round this problem – and, in what may be a first for the #RoundMyKitchenTable podcast, agree!
The gist of their advice is for Lyons not to be fussy and to take a TC anywhere he can find one. Then, by the time he has finished it in 2015-2016, the economy will probably be in better shape and, as has happened after past recessions, there may even be a shortage of junior lawyers. In which case, there will be opportunities to trade up to better firms.
Listen to the trio chat in the podcast below. Plus, in the videoclip below that, Lyons reveals how he has built up an enviable Twitter presence through his @ParalegalTony account in a snappy two-minute smartphone interview which Aldridge forces him to submit as a condition to exiting Legal Cheek HQ.
This podcast is also available on iTunes.
From Baby Barristers: a well-regarded London law firm seeks a law graduate to join its immigration practice.
Candidates should have a strong interest in immigration law and possess previous experience as a paralegal or legal assistant.
The role will include legal research, advising clients on immigration applications, and liaison with the UK Border Agency Policy Unit for guidance on complex scenarios. The successful candidate will work closely with the firm’s senior fee-earners...
Ed note: This is the first in a regular series of job alerts we'll be running for paralegal and junior lawyer positions.
From Baby Barristers: a London law firm seeks a paralegal to work on a six-month fixed-term contract in its criminal litigation team.
LPC or BPTC graduates are preferred.
Candidates should ideally possess a minimum of six months previous experience working as a paralegal or legal assistant in a criminal law department, preferably with experience of Crown Court trials. Experience of working within a very busy environment where deadlines are clearly defined is also valuable.
The role will include legal research, document management, client meetings, and liaising with the police, prosecution and court.
To request more details, or to submit an immediate application, email email@example.com, quoting 'Legal Cheek Job Alert' in the subject line.
Paralegal Tony, a part-time LPC student and paralegal at a City law firm, says that shrewd graduates can fund themselves on their journey to becoming lawyers
Doing anything is better than doing nothing
On graduating with an LLB in law with French law and French language in 2011, I took the first job available to me and swept floors at a garage while making applications to law firms in the local area. The law firm where I completed some work experience during that time was so impressed by the tenacity I showed that they decided to offer me a full-time position as a paralegal for a whole £12,000!
During that first paralegal job, I took every opportunity to network. This led to a barrister who I had instructed in a matter to give me the heads up on another position at a law firm offering more money – just enough to cover LPC fees. Not that networking on its own is enough. You need a good CV, too. To that end, get your CV reviewed. @Career_Geek is offering a free service at the moment, otherwise follow me on Twitter and I will happily have a look...
Last week there was outrage on The Student Room when a poster likened barristers to doctors and solicitors to nurses.
Out of the ensuing maelstrom emerged two points of broad agreement:
Barristers are cleverer than solicitors ("a barrister could do what a solicitor does, but not necessarily the other way round”).
But it’s easier to make megabucks as a solicitor ("Your chances of making it to the top of the pile and earning a ****load of money are much higher as a solicitor than as a barrister in my opinion.").
Of course, it's not that simple, with different types of barrister and solicitor – not to mention legal executive – outranking each other
In search of some definitive truth on the matter? Here’s Legal Cheek's power list (focusing on how lawyers rank at the point of entry to the profession):
EXCLUSIVE: In March, Legal Cheek published a story about a firm that was asking law graduates to self-fund a very expensive paralegal course in order to be considered for a training contract with them.
I decided it was too risky to publish the name of the firm in question without any written evidence of the programme.
A few days ago, though, the firm, Aston Carter Solicitors, went public with a finalised version of its pay-to-be-a-paralegal scheme, which will commence next month.
Here’s the deal:
“Dave and I went to great lengths to keep our relationship secret at work,” recalls paralegal-turned PA Zoe Michael, 23.
Who can blame them? “Dave” (pictured) is David Green, managing partner of MTA Solicitors – Zoe’s boss.
“We’d travel to and from the office together but he’d drop me off and pick me up round the corner, out of sight of colleagues,” continues Zoe, speaking exclusively to leading newspaper The Daily Express.
“Of course I was conscious of my position and how people might react to us dating,” chips in Dave.
Goodness! How did this dangerous liaison begin?
Pupillage-less prospective barrister Jack Smith is wary of forking out yet more cash on a masters, but daunted by the challenge of landing quality interim legal employment in a difficult market
With only a few exams and assessments before the end of the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), thoughts have turned recently to what the devil we're all going to do next year. A small handful of my friends have managed to secure pupillages commencing in October 2012, however many – like me – are still on the hunt, leaving at least one year of uncertainty. So what can a Bar graduate usefully do in that year?
It was Aristotle who said: “Education is the best provision for old age”, and at times it's easy to fall into thinking that old age might, in fact, arrive before an offer of pupillage. But is there merit in doing a masters?