At Least You’re Not an Italian Trainee Lawyer…

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By Alex Aldridge on

As English law students worry about the possible scrapping of the minimum trainee solicitor salary, and groan about the miserly £12K minimum award paid to pupil barristers, spare a thought for rookie lawyers in Euro-crisis hit Italy.

The other day, 25 year-old trainee lawyer Michela Moretti told the Guardian:

“I have just graduated in law and I started a traineeship in a law firm near my hometown, Viterbo. Of course, they are not even paying me expenses. The only people I know who are getting paid during their traineeship are lawyers’ children. They go to their parents’ law firm and they get paid. With [Italian Prime Minister Mario] Monti’s talk about liberalising the professions, everything is still more unclear for us. They’re even talking about getting rid of the traineeship. It’s going to be very confusing.”

Despite the myriad of inequalities in our legal education and training system, it’s pretty fair in comparison to the often nepotistic goings-on in many countries. Having said that, it’s not uncommon for the offspring of top English lawyers to land plum legal jobs – with Linklaters, for example, recently awarding a training contract to Rupert Cheyne, the son of former senior partner David.

Over all, though, there remains a sense among the students I know that they can make it – albeit perhaps not via training contracts at magic circle firms – if they are sufficiently persistent and hard-working.

Some English students have even begun to enjoy the current uncertainty, according to Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett. “We are embracing change and flux, even to rejoice in it,” one London School of Economics (LSE) student told Tett recently, adding that these days they describe themselves not as Generation X,Y or Z, but as “Gen Flux”.

Were these crazy kids pulling Tett’s leg, or is life these days all about counting your blessings and adjusting to “the new normal”?