No doubt the new Accutrainee legal training model won’t be right for everyone. But contrary to the opinions expressed by a number of blogs and articles, it can deliver many benefits to both firms and graduates.
First misconception first, Accutrainee does not deliver trainees on an ‘ad hoc’ basis. When we offer a training contract, the graduate will know which firm(s) they will be seconded to before they are asked to accept. A trainee may only end up training at one firm for their training contract, or, for example, one year at two different firms, but these are all important factors which are explained and agreed beforehand. The minimum amount of time a trainee can spend at a firm is three months, but this will only happen on rare occasions and usually at the specific request of the trainee or client firm.
Second, the level and quality of day-to-day training on offer is no different to the training offered by a firm to its own trainees. This is a contractual obligation which is closely monitored by us. In fact we are currently putting a great deal of time and effort into ensuring Accutrainees are treated as part of the firm’s trainee cohort when the first group begin their secondments later this year. For firms who only take on Accutrainees, we monitor the training closely to ensure all Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) requirements are met as well as offering additional training over and above regulatory requirements. Anything less would not have been acceptable to the SRA. Our aim is to offer exceptional training contracts which deliver well-rounded, competent lawyers to the profession. Our success will depend on that.
As for an Accutrainee’s prospects, this will depend on each individual’s ability to prove themselves to a secondment firm. It’s worth remembering that no training contract comes with a guaranteed job at the end of it. Therefore, if an Accutrainee has demonstrated the skills a firm is looking for and the firm has invested time in their training, it becomes commercially unsound for such a firm not to consider that trainee for a newly qualified position.
Historically firms looked to mould their trainees into their future partners. However, nowadays the reality is that only a small handful of trainees actually go on to make partner at the firm they trained with. ‘Lateral’ hires between law firms have exploded over the last decade. Law firms are receiving far more secondment requests from their own clients. In such a changing landscape, it becomes more attractive to recruit those who have learnt to adapt to different working environments.
One of the main drivers behind setting up Accutrainee was to offer firms an alternative to opting for cheap labour from low cost jurisdictions in the form of legal process outsourcing. It’s about improving on the existing model while ensuring we don’t lose valuable talent to the industry.
Susan Cooper is the founder of Accutrainee (formerly known as Acculaw). Previously she was a solicitor at Hogan Lovells.