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‘Cambridge-educated Weil Gotshal trainee’ flogs training contract advice for £45 an hour

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When you’re on £97k a year, is this really necessary?

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A “corporate lawyer” claiming to be a Cambridge educated Weil Gotshal & Manges trainee is flogging training contract advice online for £45 an hour.

An advert (pictured below) promoting the advice was posted on classifieds website Gumtree last week.

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The person behind the ad claims to have read law at Cambridge University and to be currently working for “one of the top corporate law firms in the world”.

Curious, Legal Cheek used a hotmail address to reach out to the unnamed solicitor to find out more information.

Responding to the inquiry, the individual declined to reveal their true identity. However, they were willing to confirm they had chosen to train at a leading US firm in the City of London. They also confirmed that the service was not free and that they would be billing their time out at a hefty £45 an hour.

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Probing further — under the guise of a financially-strapped student — Legal Cheek was keen to find out which US firm our mystery lawyer worked for.

It was at this point that the self-styled training contract guru — who uses the Gumtree username “Abgail” — claimed to be a current trainee at corporate powerhouse Weil Gotshal & Manges.

The firm, which offers around 15 training contracts annually, pays its first year trainees £41,000. This rises to a staggering £97,000 upon qualification.

Continuing their sales pitch, “Abgail” claimed to be “quite involved” with the firm’s graduate recruitment process.

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The advert — which was swiftly removed after Legal Cheek contacted Weil Gotshal’s London office for comment — will no doubt raise a few eyebrows with fellow City lawyers.

Firstly, with junior lawyers at US firms traditionally working incredibly long hours, it’s impressive to find one with so much free time on their hands. Secondly, with Weil lawyers among the top earners in the City it’s somewhat strange that one would take to Gumtree in a bid to earn an extra few quid.

Yet it wouldn’t be the first time that a big-earning junior solicitor has attempted to generate cash on the side from desperate students. Two years ago a trainee at magic circle firm Freshfields was exposed by Legal Cheek for selling training contract application advice in packages priced between £35 and £150 via a website called “Nail That Training Contract”. Months later it emerged that a Kennedys lawyer was flogging Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course notes to students.

Weil Gotshal & Manges did not respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.

32 Comments

Anon

If this is true, I don’t expect that her firm will be best pleased.

I suspect that her contract also has a clause prohibiting any outside of work business interests which have not been formally approved by management.

For the sake of some quick cash, and considering her precarious position as a trainee, a bit silly if you ask me…

(22)(2)

SqueakinglyJen

I am not sure why the criticism of this guy. When I did the BPTC those more sensible than me (I took out a career development loan) funded themselves with working as private tutors. We live in an a society that is very private-tutor heavy and I’m not sure it is ‘exploitative’ in the tone this article suggests to charge £45/hour for professional mentoring – he could earn the same for private tutoring GCSE English. Yes there is careers advice at university (and usually lots of opportunity in the legal professions to network), but these opportunities are sometimes rather random. It sounds like you might have got this trainee in trouble at his firm and I’m not exactly sure why, because he sounds like he is at the pretty harmless end of this kind of a spectrum (feel free to criticise the rest of the spectrum though, e.g. https://www.legalcheek.com/2013/02/tooks-chambers-barristers-start-company-that-charges-bar-hopefuls-186-each-for-pupillage-application-advice-from-michael-mansfield-qc/).

(10)(3)

Another MC trainee

It is bad because many trainees and lawyers give their time free of charge to offer advice and mentoring. These programs are generally excellent (e.g. Aspiring Solicitors, outreach programs, and university services), but they always need more support and so it is cynical to charge large sums of money for advice rather than supporting the organisations that work hard to improve social mobility through volunteering.

(22)(2)

Anonymous

If this person is in trouble at their firm, then clearly the firm – as opposed to just commentators here – thinks there is an issue. I’m not sure why LC should be criticised for that. LC did no more than write about a public “service” using information provided by the person behind this – there was no breach of confidence, no sting and no dubious journalistic tactics.

We all know that law graduates are fairly desperate to get TCs, and the “insights” that this person is claiming to offer are “insights” held by a vast number of people in the City – hence I would dispute that they are truly of value or different to anything which is freely available elsewhere.

Yes, there is some onus on aspiring trainees to show some nous and to locate that information themselves (and I would therefore question the sense of anyone who took advantage of this person’s likely very thin offering), but this smacks of someone seeing a glut of desperate graduates out there and seeing them as a potential source of income for “advice” which, we all know, is likely to be of very low value indeed. It’s like selling a passport admissions service when such things are free – we can laugh at the “muppets” who pay for such things, but we still take a dim view of the people who set such sites up.

I’m a solicitor and I have been approached by companies (one set up by a friend from the LPC) who want me to advise students on how to get a TC “in return for a rate commensurate with my position as a solicitor at a leading firm” (their words, not mine) – I would find it difficult to accept such a position, even if I was confident that students were signing up to it with their eyes open.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

It is utterly exploitative for a trainee at a legal sweatshop to charge just shy of £50 per hour to offer unverified advice when senior lawyers, partners, HR staff and entire agencies of qualifieds all around the UK will offer you more for free, but need support to do so. It is taking advantage of desperate grads who are willing to do and pay anything to secure a contract.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

I’m sure some of the free-marketeers on here will be praising this person’s entrepreneurial character, but I find this to be pretty appalling and grasping – not to mention being suggestive of a complete lack of judgement, self-awareness and wit.

(16)(1)

Lord Dyson

What an utter chopper.

You might as well wave your NQ position goodbye darling, I can’t imagine they’ll retain shytes like her.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

If this person’s TC isn’t terminated before the end of the week…

(3)(2)

Anonymous

When you’re on a meagre £97k a year, you clearly need all the extra income you can get.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Why would someone opt for this over Aspiring Solicitors?

(12)(2)

Anonymous

Highly recommend Aspiring Solicitors – they will know a lot more than one trainee ever will and don’t charge for the service.

(5)(3)

Chekhov's Gun

Fantastic work Mr Connelly – this is where investigative journalism is at – makes up for that nonsense yesterday about the bencher’s daughter and the scholarship…

(13)(4)

Not Amused

Well I, and many others, give advice away for free. I sleep well at night.

I, personally, disapprove of any and all seeking to profit from this. That includes those who charge directly and those who seek to profit by selling gimmicks to law firms.

There are lots of very good charitable sources. Young people should seek them.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

From experience, trainees are not the best people to provide this type of advice – especially if they are looking to charge for it. They can only really talk about it from their experiences and provide advice that replicates their own personal circumstances – this can often be more harmful than good.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I can’t imagine anyone would provide any really useful advice until they’ve at least sat on the other side of the table and known what they would look for in an applicant. Surely there’s far too much speculation up until that point?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Although they are not charging, there is a similar service being provided by a group called TC Smashers who claim to be current or future trainees at a number of firms.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

I was approached to be a member but something about giving training contract advice away for free repulsed me!

(3)(6)

Appalled

Did anyone notice how shyte the spelling in the ad & subsequent messages is? It seems to me this person is a total fraud and the only connection between her and the firm is that she found out about them on Lex100 and thought it would be a suitable choice.

How do we know she’s a Cantab grad and a current trainee at WGM?

(9)(3)

Bemused

Have taken “heavily involved in the GR process” to mean “giving applicants a tour of the office and answering questions for five minutes”

(1)(0)

Bemused

sorry, “quite involved”

(0)(1)

Mr Pineapples

Oh – what a waste of time article.

Just get over it

(3)(5)

Anonymous

I see a post with the full name of a WGM trainee has been deleted, presumably by LC.

(4)(0)

Ass-Eater LJ

“It is a firm called Weil Gotshal Manges check it out” is Nigerian Prince-tier syntax.
I appreciate that applicants are desperate but if you fall for that you should be questioning whether City law is a suitable career choice for you.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

A bit of sly Linkedin, and the culprit is clear.

(5)(0)

GiveItUp

All this girl has demonstrated poor judgement and everyone really needs to calm down. LegalCheek should really consider whether outing this individual on this stupid (but unfortunately, popular) website can be considered fair and proportionate. Hopefully those at WGM will treat this individual fairly (i.e. have a stern word then get the **** over it). Young lawyers and those hoping to get into the profession are so ready to tear their contemporaries down which is sad and pathetic.

(7)(5)

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