Advice

My training contract has been mis-sold to me: What do I do?

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Dream job isn’t what it says on the tin

Lead1

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, a soon-to-be trainee vents his frustration at his “mis-sold” training contract.

areer

I secured a training contract when I was in my second year of university. It’s now two years later, weeks before I’m about to start, and the firm has just told me I can’t work in the department I really wanted to. This was the whole reason I went for this firm over any of the others. To make matters worse, now the firm has decided it’s going to allocate trainees their seats; surprise, surprise, I’ve ended up in one I don’t want to be in. I just feel really annoyed about the whole thing, like my training contract has been mis-sold to me. I wouldn’t have applied to this firm had I known this would happen. Surely it’s too late to switch firms now? I don’t want to annoy anyone before I’ve even started, but do I bring it up with someone at the firm? I’d really appreciate some advice.

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

69 Comments

ROF FAN

Get over your first world problem maybe? Do your six month stint, move on. Simples

(119)(11)

Anonymous

Yep, if it’s a decent firm just shut up, get qualified and then do whatever the fuck you want afterwards.

Seriously, the entitlement of law students and trainees is ridiculous.

(65)(18)

Anonymous

Lol… why do all failures end up on Legal Cheek?

We get it – your prospects are non-existent. No need to be nasty to others.

(18)(4)

Anonymous

Pressing that was an accident sorry!

(0)(2)

Anonymous

No it was not – stop faking others to play down something that clearly applies to you too.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I could be wrong, but his phrasing suggests that he won’t be able to sit in his target department at all.

I mean, the guy must know he’d have to do other seats anyway, so I don’t see why he’d be making a fuss unless the above was the case.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t you have several seats during the two years?

(30)(0)

Anonymous

Literally. Shut the fuck up and become a lawyer, are you serious?

(66)(6)

Anonymous

Get over it. It’s just a seat and not a department you’ll permanently be working in. How about stop moaning and appreciate the fact you actually have a TC!

(79)(4)

Lord Of the Dance

Try a 12K pupillage – bloody outrageous…

(53)(0)

CriminalPupil

Here here.

…and I had to to Grimsby Mags yesterday. *shudders*

(23)(3)

Anonymous

And you don’t even know that it should be “hear hear”! Poor you!

(43)(8)

Anonymous

THAT’S something to whinge about.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Try 4KBW pupillage (the dodgy one, not the nice one)!

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Law****e P*w*rs?

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Did you not get tenancy then Chris?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Why do they advertise that as a first six only? It cant be to cover excess work, surely they must give them 2nd six as well, if not tenancy?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

A stiff breeze and they will collapse….just lost a load of dogs’ bodies to other chambers

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Oh dear yes three leaving for Lamb. Hmm not a good sign

(2)(0)

Anonymous

A testament to Lozza P’s success as captain of his Chambers.

HA!

P.S. Captain Lozza, it appears your ship is sinking.

X

(2)(0)

Capt Lozza P

I still have many of them chained to the oars! They won’t get away that easily!

Mwhahahahahaha!!!!

Anonymous

Check your privilege.

(23)(1)

Anonymous

Check your pupillage!

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Are they a “top” firm? Do other “wannabe” lawyers aspire to be you? If so, suck it up and get on with it.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

Why are you so wedded to the area you wanted to do? How come you don’t want to do the one you were allocated? Often areas are so different in practice to on your degree/LPC, you may actually enjoy it.

(15)(1)

Anonymous

I won a red Mercedes but I wanted a silver one :((

(86)(1)

Anonymous

You think you have problems? My supermodel girlfriend will only put out once a day. This is not what she said living together would be like when we were dating.

Also, the threesome she offered me was just with an ordinary Victoria secret model, and not one of the angels.

Does anyone elses life suck? 😞

(50)(1)

Anonymous

Mine’s worse.

I woke up to a call from my broker telling me that I had only made $4m on the markets yesterday.

Then, my Learjet salesman couldn’t get me the latest model, so I had to spend half an hour travelling in my chauffer driven Rolls to the Gulfstream office in Mayfair.

To top it all, the waiter at the 2 Michelin star restaurant where I had lunch forgot that I am left handed, and I had to swap my knife and fork around myself!

(27)(4)

Anonymous

2 Michelin star restaurant? Peasant.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

I didn’t think people bothered these days if it were any less than 3 Michelin stars….

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Most first seaters don’t get their seat choices – they often get stuck in the departments few people want to work in.

Work hard in your first seat, impress people, network with people in the department you do want to work in, and then when it comes round to the next seat rotation you will be in the best position to be considered for your first choice. If it isn’t the next seat rotation, do the same again so that it is the third rotation, and repeat as necessary.

During your training contract, be polite about your want to work in X group but make it clear in any meetings with supervisors/HR that you are keen to go there. Look for opportunities that will give you any chance to work with that team, whether client deals/cases, or even social events.

I highly doubt it was mis-sold to you; it seems you just have unrealistic expectations of how training contracts work. Most trainees who get the seats they want have to graft for it – its not just given to them because they feel they are entitled to it.

You’ve got little to no chance of securing a TC elsewhere, not just because of the time lag on the recruitment process (are you really going to delay your career by 3+ years, when you could be qualified in that time), but also if you told another firm you decided not to start your original TC after not getting your first seat they would probably laugh at you and not want to hire you for being so demanding.

(67)(3)

Anonymous

”Most trainees who get the seats they want have to graft for it – its not just given to them because they feel they are entitled to it.”

You mean Trainees just need to arse lick the Partners – aka make them feel like they’re not just glorified secretaries.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I had the same problem. Whilst I get that people might be frustrated with the fact that you have a training contract and you aren’t happy, you need to remember it’s your career.

If it’s only one seat that you don’t want to do then I’d say stick with it. However, if they have completely changed your seats to something that you really don’t want to qualify into then I think you need to think about if it is the right firm for you.

I initially was going to a firm to do Family, Private Client and Property (I was an aspiring family lawyer) and the firm agreed to this. They then changed my seats to all heavily commericial based stuff before a few weeks before I was to start. I decided it was better to find a different TC than to stay and qualify in areas that I was not going to want to specialise in. Especially as it is so hard to go move into an area if you haven’t done a seat in it.

But do think carefully, TC are very hard to come across and you need to be certain. If it’s one or two seats then I’d say “suck it up”, but if it’s all 4 seats I’d think about asking the firm if there is any possibility of doing atleast one of your desired seats.

Remember it’s your career and don’t let people call you out for wanting to do what is right for you. But you also need to be realistic. Everyone on their TC has to do seats they don’t want to do.

(39)(1)

Anonymous

This has to be clickbait – surely no prospective trainee would be stupid enough to think the individual trainee selects their seats.

The firm has to decide where they sit – otherwise you’d have every trainee sat in one of the popular/easier hours teams, while the finance teams had no trainees at all.

(19)(1)

The Lord Harley of Counsel

I undertook 23 seats simultaneously while standing on my head.

(27)(0)

Anonymous

Just don’t ask me to turn up to the hearing with evidence of such..

(3)(0)

Pongobulb

Regardless, just don’t do a seat in PI. And you will be fine.

Ex IM, now Addleshaw employee

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Employee? How easy is it getting a tea making gig at IM?

(4)(0)

Pongobulb

“Tea making gig” haha quality

I was joking about being IM / Addleshaw.

I’d rather work on Clapham Common selling recycled lube to trawling Barristers.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Oh how sad, poor thing. Such a tragedy.

(1)(0)

Botzarelli

Your first seat is where you’ll learn to work. To use the photocopier, the dictaphone, the time recording system, to take attendance notes, to turn up on time and behave professionally, to make phone calls, to understand the role of support staff.

All of that is incredibly important stuff that you will not have learned already as someone who has gone from uni via LPC and who, having got the TC at uni might not even have bothered to do any vac schemes since (not that they do more than give a glimpse of the practical realities).

If you have a practice area you really want to qualify into you should push for it for your third or fourth seat. By then you’ll be useful in the seat and your supervisors can give you proper work to see how well you might do as a qualified lawyer there.

When I was in private practice and a supervisor in a specialist area lots of very bright trainees fancied I always had to push back hard internally to ensure I did not get a first or second seat trainee. Both because I’d get little from them, however keen, and because the nature of the practice area was that I’d not be able to guarantee they got all the general office/business skills they needed which they’d get if they went to corporate, property or litigation and this would ultimately make them worse to qualify into my area or to prosper in other seats.

It is also worth remembering that many many solicitors qualify into areas they didn’t think about, had even heard of or even actively hated before starting a TC. Being motivated to one area helps you sound keen and interested in getting the TC but no more.

Another important professional lesson here is that you need to learn to suck it up a little rather than think you can and should have total control. Firms spend a fortune on trainees and don’t deliberately screw up that investment. You’re now a small cog in a big machine.

(34)(0)

Anonymous

Suck it up.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Most tcs are crap (I speak from experience), just suck it up, get qualified, then go on to what you want to do (whether that’s law out non law).

(4)(0)

Kuzka's Mother

…yeah, you’re not going to get any sympathy. The world doesn’t always end up the way we want it, as several people who have barely escaped from Syria would no doubt gladly tell you.

Count your blessings, and deal with it. Many people would give anything to be in your position. My own TC experience was problematic in several ways (felt under-utilised and was often not paid) but I just ploughed through it to get my qualification and moved on.

Besides, who knows you might end up actually liking the field you’ll be working in. I never thought I’d even touch aviation law but as it turns out it’s my favourite area of practice now.

tl;dr stfu and stop complaining

(9)(3)

Anonymous

What is this insanity

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This…is…Legal Cheek!

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Hmmm, what should he / she do?

Get on with it, princess.

(6)(1)

Little Miss Precious

Oh no!

I wanted an orange ice lolly but was given a lemon one!

BOO HOO!

*cries loudly, stamps foot, makes self sick and poos pants on purpose*

(51)(3)

Anonymous

You know what, this person has come for genuine advice. The majority of comments here are not helpful. This person doesn’t have a sense of entitlement like alot of you are suggesting. I know everyone wants a TC but stop attacking someone who has one and isn’t happy with it and wants advice.

(9)(33)

Anonymous

They probably shouldn’t have come to Legal Cheek if they didn’t want honest yet sometimes brutal comments.

(4)(1)

anon

The comments are rarely honest but nearly always brutal (and often puerile)

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Why would anyone want to be a solicitor?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Oh, didn’t get a TC in this round then?

Diddums!

(9)(2)

deleted

To be fair I have heard more than the occasional qualified lawyer saying this.

(0)(0)

Oh our industry is competitive so we should bow down to every firm

Whilst I understand the reason lots or comments have been quite ‘brutal’, (the fact that so many of us struggle to get a TC) it does highlight the powerful position law firms are in whilst recruiting.

If they did mis-represent in order to attract said candidate it would be typical of the attitude I have seen from law firms. A cockiness and a lack of care as they have so many excellent candidates to choose from. This is highlighted by firms having huge applications just to go on an open day (where, if succesful, we have to pay to travel to look around their office), making people travel from all over the country with no expense paid for a 10 min first round interview and expecting a person to do a vacation scheme over the summer with no experience (yes I have done vac schemes with top 100 firms for no money).

Maybe the above attitude of ‘just suck it up, just be grateful’ allows some firms to act the way they do during the recruitment process.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Any decent firm will reimburse travel expenses for open days or interviews, and pay formal vacation scheme students. The firms you went to were clearly tinpot.

There’s little point in mis-selling a training contract opportunity if all it is going to do is result in lots of unhappy trainees when they do join. Considering you can’t get rid of trainees for 2 years unless they do something outrageous, it just isn’t worth the hassle of recruiting a group of people who are going to be a pain in the backside to deal with because they didn’t get something they expected.

Saying that things change and therefore so do firms and their policies/approaches to trainees. Firms have to ensure the training contract works for everyone, not just the individual trainee, and that can mean they have to change things if they haven’t worked in the past. If people see this as an abuse of being in a more powerful position, they clearly don’t understand the basics on how to run a business/firm.

(2)(1)

anon

Oh our industry is competitive – 1.54:

I think this is one of the most intelligent points made on the comments section.

It’s very true, and its unfair on applicants.

While I understand the wheels of progress move very slowly, and I’m not sure if much would happen, I do think that this point should at least be registered with the law society / policy making body.

The main issue is this – why ask where a candidate would like to do their seats if it is to be totally disregarded anyway? (Personal preference vs business need – and can a compromise be reached, at least one preference given?)

This can then go in 1 of 2 extremes – they then stop asking altogether and you effectively submit an “open” application (which would at least be an open and honest way of dealing with it – and would manage people’s expectations properly) OR firms take note and at least give you 1 / 2 of your preferred seats. It has to be a good fit for both sides.

If firms allocate on the basis of business need and ignore preferences, I suppose that can be rationalised on their part, but don’t make a charade out of it and ask people for options when you’re not going to pay attention to them anyway! !! It’s dishonest.

i think a firm which tries to give at least one seat in preferred area will be a popular one to apply to / have the edge on selecting the very best candidates.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Wow, so many disgruntled and jealous no-hopers on here. Someone asks a genuine question and all those who are incapable of getting a decent TC get their claws out. Back in your boxes.

(7)(5)

Anonymous

Hang on, let me just get on the phone to the refugees in the German holding centres, and ask what their thoughts are.

(108)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

too busy rioting over a lack of halal food or molesting some German women i fear

(4)(5)

Anonymous

you’re too busy sucking your own dick to do anything else

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Try working as a paralegal for 2 years and not getting fuck all…

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Try taking 7 years to qualify. You have to suck it up do your time and move on. Best learn how to use the photocopier because if you show such attitude so early in your career. He might just become your best friend.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

I don’t believe that anyone saying that you should just suck it up and do what your employer tells you can actually be working in the legal profession. No, having your own career ambitions and asking your firm to help you achieve them is not going to make the firm think worse of you so long as you do this in the context of showing willing to work hard. Firms want ambitious people who are looking to move ahead. They’re also not going to hold it against you if you have some backbone (so long as you’re respectful!).

To the OP: I think that it is worth contacting the HR dept early and making clear that your commitment is to X area of the law. Obviously make clear that you are happy and excited about the opportunity to train in other areas too, and don’t be aggressive about it, but it is worth underlining that you accepted the job on the basis you could do your preferred area (presuming that you did in fact get an assurance that you would), and pressing to have the opportunity to have one seat in this area. Hopefully they can accommodate you in one of the 4 seats. It’s scary to make a fuss, but will be worth it if it can get the seat you want — as it’ll be hard to qualify into that area without some experience on it on your TC.

(2)(5)

Anonymous

Give it a go you never know you may enjoy it ! I was set on doing PI or employment got a TC was told I was doing residential and then commercial property as two seats, now I love it and after doing a teeny bit of litigation realised I enjoyed property more. Also being a trainee you are the lowest of the low you do as your told when your told and your grateful for it. When they give you hundreds of pages to scan and file in alphabetical order your meant to act like its the best thing in the world. Complaining about your seats will NOT go down well

(6)(0)

Anonymous

If you’re this precious about which department you’re being placed in for your first seat then things do not bode well for your career.

You apply to a firm knowing that you could be expected to work in any area of law that they practice, generally. The TC is a time to throw yourself in to whatever challenges that may arise, and absolutely be sure not to expect everything you want to be handed to you on a silver platter.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Looooool bloody ungrateful blaghard.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You have taken a job with a law firm, they lied and said it would be nice but in reality it will be sh1t. If this is a shock to you then you need to grow up fast or change your career now before you start believing that if you work hard then you might make partner in the future.

Great clickbait story though LC.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Go and do the training contract for a numbers of reasons:

1) as much as you think you do, you really don’t have any idea what it is like to work in practice in a particular department until you have worked there. So – while I appreciate that you won’t even get the opportunity now to try it, the chances of it being where you would ultimately have decided to qualify anyway are not that high. Many , many lawyers, myself included, went to my TC with ideas of what I wanted – ended up disliking what I loved on LPC, and ending up qualfiying into an area I didn’t even study on the LPC because I took a punt at a seat in it and actually loved it. Point being, I know it would be nice to try something you enjoy on the LPC, but there are no guarantees it would be the same or that you won’t love another, unexpected area better, so I think it would be a waste to throw away this TC or delay your career on that basis.

2) TCs, firms and HR are fluid beings. Two years is a long time and while right now they can’t see an opportunity to put you in your preferred department, things change, people leave, partners get promoted, HR directors are hired and fired, strategy changes. The firm that recruited me in was a much different place between TC offer day and the day I left at 2 yrs pqe and things changed for trainees and their my and their opportunites at regular intervals throughout that time. So, you never know!

3)It may be more difficult, especially if the area you want to practice in is highly sought after, but it really is not imposisble to move as an NQ to another firm to a practice area that you have not trained in, as long as you have excellent reasons why you want to and can show transferable skils and hopefully some experience in related areas. Realisically, after only 6 months you are not going to be fabulous anyway, and entering an area as a NQ is more about your enthousiasim, interest in the subject and you personal abilities and attitude than your expertise, which will be minimal.

Do the TC, work hard, let it be known to Hr and the partners in that department that it is your preferred area, but be sure not to disillusion any of the partners in other areas who you may have to rely on for a job should you not get/not like the preferred area in the end!

(1)(0)

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