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DLA Piper associate offers training contract ‘coaching’ and ‘guidance’ at £40 an hour

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Edinburgh-based lawyer and former White & Case trainee sells application advice online

DLA

A corporate lawyer at global giant DLA Piper is offering training contract applicants “coaching” and “guidance” at £40 an hour.

Continuing a trend of junior lawyers trying to earn a little extra cash, an associate at DLA Piper’s Edinburgh office used classified ads website Gumtree to offer law students struggling to obtain a training contract her “wealth of experience”.

The associate — who Legal Cheek sees no need to name — claims to have interviewed “successfully” at “US and magic circle firms”. Having obtained a training contract in 2008 at the London office of US firm White & Case — whose current cohort of newly qualified (NQ) lawyers take home a hefty £90,000 a year — she proudly trumpets on her advert:

I am confident I will be able to assist law graduates reach their maximum potential.

The advert (screenshot below) — which was swiftly removed after Legal Cheek contacted DLA Piper for comment — featured a large accompanying headshot of the female lawyer.

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Keen to find out more about our mystery training contract expert, Legal Cheek used a hotmail address to reach out to the solicitor.

During an email exchange (screenshot below) the lawyer revealed that she had obtained a 2:1 in French and Portuguese from the University of Nottingham. Before embarking on the in Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the then College of Law, she had completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at Nottingham Law School, obtaining a commendation in both.

email

The DLA Piper lawyer continued her impressive sales pitch, claiming to have spent six months at the White & Case São Paulo office in Brazil, before leaving the New York-headquartered giants to spend two years at a London-based private equity firm.

Happy to reveal that she is a current associate based in the corporate team of DLA Piper’s Edinburgh office, she helpfully offered to conduct sessions via Skype or FaceTime.

DLA Piper — which offers around 80 training contracts annually — pays its Scotland-based NQs £36,000 a year. However, with our self-styled training contract guru having several years experience under her belt, she is likely to command a much higher salary.

A DLA Piper spokesperson told Legal Cheek:

The post was only made a few days ago and it has now been removed. It was an error of judgment and upon realising this the individual apologises unreservedly.

With this latest lawyer offering legal expertise at £40 a pop to desperate law students, a worrying trend is beginning to emerge.

Two years ago Legal Cheek exposed a trainee at magic circle giant Freshfileds who was selling training contract application advice for up to £150 a time. Not long after, a Kennedys lawyer was caught flogging GDL and LPC notes to under-prepared law students. And only a few months ago, a Cambridge-educated trainee at Weil Gotshal & Manges who was set to earn as much as £97,000 a year was caught flogging training contract advice for £45 an hour.

44 Comments

Anonymous

There are two possibilities.

Either the ‘advice’ provided by these human leeches assists in getting a TC or it doesn’t.

If it doesn’t, then the vulnerable are being fleeced for no benefit. If it does, then, if permitted, the rich will effectively be able to buy their way into Training Contracts.

Either way, this practice must be stamped out and those who attempt to provide it publicised and ridiculed.

(38)(10)

Dr Bonham

Why is it that if it doesn’t work, vulnerable people suffer, but if it does, only rich people benefit?

(13)(22)

Anonymous

Seriously? Ok, I’ll spell it out.

The application process for TC’s is overcrowded, rigorously, and extremely competitive. Thus, putting on the market a snake-oil product that falsely promises an advantage is inherently abusive, and takes advantage of people’s desperation.

If it works, then the people who will benefit the most will be those with the most money, as they will be able to pay for the best advice. For those of us who want those with the best talent to get TC’s, this is not a good outcome.

Is that simple enough for you, or do I have to make this even more idiot-proof!

(29)(9)

Tyrion

I don’t think you need to be so aggressive in your tone, and the question asked was a valid one. First you propose vulnerable and rich as if they are mutually exclusive. Are you proposing that being rich means you are not vulnerable in this situation at all?

If practices such as this don’t work, then surely there will be rich people who also suffer in addition to poor people. Equally if practices such as this do work then surely some vulnerable and desperate people, as you see them, will benefit in addition to the rich.

The system is already biased against those from less wealthy backgrounds with parents who aren’t professionals, however the excessively chippy tone you take here is pretty pathetic. The bigger issue for me is why a solicitor who earns enough cash is dishing out advice for relative peanuts and why their employers HR departments aren’t putting a stop to this rubbish.

(11)(22)

Anonymous

I think the person has a point…

Vulnerable people = anyone desperate enough to think this will help them

Rich = only those who can afford the service and therefore can only be the ones who benefit if it is successful

It is not as if the two are mutually exclusive.

(19)(2)

Anonymous

Precisely. Thank you!

(9)(1)

Anonymous

But if a person is rich and can easily afford to pay, then if it is useless then they have lost very little. If this sort of thing is suggested as being useful, or (god forbid) the norm, then poor people will feel that they have to shell out money they don’t have, which will seriously affect them. Put it this way – Tarquin from Kensington’s parents might happily chuck a couple of hundred quid his way for some professional help as they do whenever he wants to go down the King’s Road whereas Baz from Whitechapel’s parents might have to scrimp and save for months in the genuine and earnest hope that this money, which is a huge amount for them, will help their son to make something of himself.

Exploiting Tarquin in that situation is a nasty thing to do, but he isn’t exactly ruined by it. Exploiting Baz is utterly despicable.

(1)(5)

Tyrion

Now I understand. If someone is rich, then it is okay if they are exploited as they can afford it. If someone is poor, then that same exploitation is wrong.

So I guess the next question is who is rich, so I can direct my ire at them. Someone please prepare a diagram to show exactly where the cutoff point is.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

I should make clear that I am the ‘original’ Anonymous, and 2:49pm Anonymous is not me.

Clearly, it’s not my argument that it’s ok to exploit the rich. I consider it morally wrong to sell a snake-oil product to anyone, regardless of their wealth.

I accept Anon 2:49’s point that the richer may be hurt less by such actions. However, I don’t think that contradicts anything I’ve said.

Anonymous

“First you propose vulnerable and rich as if they are mutually exclusive.”

No. I never said that. My position is that this preys on the vulnerable and that, even if it does work, only the rich will benefit.

“If practices such as this don’t work, then surely there will be rich people who also suffer in addition to poor people.”

Agreed. I never said otherwise.

“Equally if practices such as this do work then surely some vulnerable and desperate people, as you see them, will benefit in addition to the rich.”

Indeed, but my point is that overall, the rich will benefit more due to their greater resources. This shouldn’t be a difficult concept.

If my tone is aggressive, it’s because I have no patience for people either who straw man my position or lack the reading comprehension skills to understand it. So either address what I actually say and tell my why you disagree (if you still do) or stop wasting my time.

(12)(4)

Tyrion

Great, so why didn’t you just say that, rather than your confused nonsensical rant.

Btw rich people already have a massive advantage in this process. If you think paying for advice from an NQ will be sought after by a public school educated, redbrick graduate who’s dad is a city partner then you must be smoking something. Focus on the real issues rather than getting in a tizzy over something like this.

(2)(6)

Anonymous

I did say it. Twice. The first time very simply:

“If it doesn’t [work], then the vulnerable are being fleeced for no benefit. If it does, then, if permitted, the rich will effectively be able to buy their way into Training Contracts.”

That is a perfect summary of what I said above, and it nowhere implies that I am talking about two mutually exclusive categories.

The deficiency in your reading comprehension skills is not my problem.

(9)(3)

Tyrion

“The deficiency in your reading comprehension skills is not my problem”. You sound amazing. What a (keyboard) warrior you are.

Anonymous

I think the point is that, if it doesn’t work, everyone is being fleeced. It will affect poor people more, but vulnerability has little to do with it. If anything, people of limited means are less likely to chuck money at something just in case it works.

Good point badly made.

Not Amused

This needs to be stopped.

(10)(8)

Tired old granddad

This post has been removed because it breaches Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Wail Scrotshal & Minges

Fascist bastards, the grandpa just wanted to get some moist poon.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

This makes me sad – particularly because there are a lot of people in the profession who are prepared to offer their advice to budding Solicitors for free

(11)(2)

Super gran (not)

I need advice and guidance but would not pay for it as this just enables the bad to continue robbing people while enriching their own pockets. Hope they can sleep at night but also people should not agree to pay either, so it’s 6 of one etc etc

(1)(1)

Anonymous

She sounds like a flop anyway.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Sounds like she couldn’t get anywhere in the City and has now realised she isn’t going to earn as much money elsewhere. What a dreadful person.

(3)(5)

Quo Vadis

“2:1 with distinction”

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Naughty naughty, Christina. I wondered why HR were in a tizz this morning…

(31)(0)

Anonymous

Won’t someone please thing of the children!

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Almost funny!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Trainees and junior NQs who try this usually they have little to no experience of reviewing applications (only writing a small number of successful ones some years ago when they were applying) and are also very unlikely to have experiencing interviewing in a law firm. This will mean the information they provide is pretty limited.

Sure they can provide some insight, but the vast majority of this is common sense which could be provided by anyone and is likely to be no different to the significant levels of useful information in the public domain or provided free by many other organisations.

This idea just preys on the fear of candidates who are so desperate to try and gain an advantage.

Firms should get a backbone and start proper disciplinary action on individuals who attempt this or similar activities. I suspect that in most instances, their employment contract states they cannot be employed elsewhere or have to declare if they are receiving income/are a director of any business.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

I think there’s value in trainees and NQ’s offering a view from the other side of the table – having just been through it and been successful, they will very likely have more good advice than the average person. It would clearly be incomplete advice, and would be better to talk to actual recruiters of course. But the value of that advice is clearly higher than ‘anyone’, particularly if they had experience of failed applications beforehand and learned how to change their applications to get in.

Obviously they should never charge though, ever.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

So unsuccessful candidates should also be offering this advice given that logic and therefore anyone could.

(0)(1)

Lord Harley of Cockgoblin

This kind of thing has been going on for quite some time now and as far as I am aware, there is nothing in the BSB handbook or the SRA’s code of conduct that prohibits this. Nor has anyone been found in breach of any relevant rules.

The inference to be drawn from those two omissions is that, in the view of the regulators, it is not prohibited and should not be so prohibited.

Instead we have Legal Cheek arrogating itself to the position of adjudicator on professional ethics. That does not sit comfortably with me.

If the argument in rebuttal of what I have said above is that in fact the proper inference is that the regulators are incompetent, that would need to be demonstrated by evidence of somebody having drawn this matter to their attention and it simply being ignored.

Note that somebody drawing it to their attention, and matters deliberately not taken further, is not evidence of it being ignored but rather is further evidence that the view of the regulators is that nothing should be done. In that scenario, the proper course of action for an aggrieved party would be to lobby the regulators as to why the rules should be changed.

The current position of trial by the media is pretty unappetising. Even though the person is not named here (although I imagine the details provided are more than enough for colleagues and associates to identify her), there is no reason why Legal Cheek should be able to bring an end to a legitimate business venture.

(10)(8)

Anonymous

legitimate business venture? Are you serious?

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Oh hi Christina!

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Can someone forward this series of LC articles to the SRA so that they can take no action and be officially deemed incompetent please?

(2)(0)

Not Amused

That seems very time consuming.

Far better to just lobby the OED to change the definition of regulator to mean ‘collection of officially not public sector public sector workers who achieve nothing save increasing their own numbers and cost, noted for modifying the language of their nation state beyond comprehension’.

(2)(0)

Wail Scrotshal & Minges

Hi Christina, what about that tugjob offer I made you? I might even pay £45.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

“who Legal Cheek sees no need to name”

It look me about 30 seconds to figure out who it was on DLA’s website thanks to your “blurred” photo and their efficient search system.

(3)(0)

Trouser Cannon

Looool, she’s a hot little number ain’t she? 🍆🍑✊🏻💦

(6)(0)

Inspector Morse

Can only see 8 solicitors listed on the law sic search DLA Edinburgh none of whom seems to match this gal. Any clues as to how you searched…?

(1)(0)

The Law is Restrictive

I agree with Lord Harley of Cockgoblin.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I give this advice to people I meet who are in need and less fortunate than I am for free. Suck out.

(0)(0)

Ron

I can offer advice on securing a TC – Always arrive at the right firm; don’t dress like worzell gumnidge; don’t hi-five; don’t arrive shit faced; remember to wipe your feet if there’s a doormat and always, always refer to yourself in the third person. That’s how I did it.

YOUR WELCOME !!!!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

My welcome?

(3)(0)

CO

I don’t see anything very problematic about successful training contract candidates selling their expertise for money. This could be considered analogous to private law tutors to university students or in fact any private careers service.
I am by no means rich but if I had exhausted the free resources at my university careers service and still needed more help on applications/interview technique then paying for 2 hours tuition at £40 per hour would have seemed a reasonable deal. I found a real trial and error research heavy task in improving my application/interview technique. Bypassing this for less than a pound per week over the first 2 years of my LLB would have been a much more efficient use of my time. If anything a successful applicant that sells his skills for a fair price is more commercially aware than the one who allows his skills to fall fallow. Obviously though there is more honour in the successful applicant to gives away his skills for those in need freely.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

If you still needed help after exhausting all free options, you probably have a significantly high chance of never securing a training contract.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I agree. I don’t get why this is seen as such a bad thing to be honest. Sure, it’s nice to offer it for free, which many people do through things like Aspiring Solicitors. But ultimately, some people want a professional service and investment from the one offering the advice too (far more likely to offer a comprehensive advice given that it is a legitimate business transaction).

This whole argument about exploiting the weak is a load of rubbish. My parents, who you would probably class as ‘poor’ (although that is a bad term for present purposes), sent me to all kinds of tutors as a kid for my weaker subjects. Were those tutors fleecing my parents, or providing a service which my parents were happy to pay for? I say the latter.

Transactions like this do not care for rich or poor – you either want it and can afford it, or you just don’t take service. Simple.

If it were up to you lot, we’d abandon private schools, tutors, consultants for businesses, football coaches, the lot!

(3)(0)

Comments are closed.