Earlier this month, Jonathan Fagan, managing director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment, received an email from a graduate who’d been invited to interview for a paralegal job at a law firm.
According to Fagan, the graduate had, in advance, been informed that she had to pay £9,000 to be considered for this role and wanted to know if this was normal. He told her it wasn’t.
In return for £9,000, the law firm is apparently offering:
1. Six months of paralegal training.
2. A “funded” LPC (fees for the LPC range between £6,000-£12,500).
3. A “possible training contract”. The firm offers “access to up to 40 training contracts”.
Writing on legalrecruitment.blogspot.com, Fagan added: “I have come across firms in Yorkshire charging up to £30,000 for a training contract, but I have never heard of one blatantly advertising the charges up front before an interview.”
Having been alerted to Fagan’s post by @MeghnaMajumdar on Twitter, I gave him a call.
Fagan was unable to provide me with any more details about the £30,000 training contract, and said he couldn’t give me the phone number of the graduate who had contacted him about the £9,000 paralegal deal without first asking her permission. Unfortunately, she refused permission.
However, Fagan said that he had been in touch the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) about the matter, and been told by their Fraud and Confidential Intelligence Bureau that they had already received notification of a certain firm’s pay-to-be-a-paralegal deal. When I spoke to the SRA, they refused to confirm or deny anything – in keeping with normal procedure where an investigation is under way. They added that if the scheme concerns only paralegals, it is for the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) to deal with, not them. CILEX said they had not heard about any such behaviour.
Having obtained the name of the law firm in question, I gave them a call yesterday, and spoke to their senior partner. Initially, he confirmed to me the terms of the pay-to-be-a-paralegal deal as outlined by Fagan, which he labelled “innovative”. Then, when he realised I might write a negative story about it, he changed tack, denied what he had just said (although the exchange had become pretty confused by this point) and implied that he might sue me. After that, he sent me an email in which he wrote that his firm is “offering no training contracts”. So, as I have no evidence of our call (which I didn’t record), or confirmation from the graduate who spoke to Fagan, I can’t publish the name of the law firm.
Has anyone else come across this pay-to-be-a-paralegal deal, or indeed any other pay-to-train schemes?