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Don’t pay for training contract advice, Junior Lawyers Division urges

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Exclusive: Is it ‘exploitative’, or a case of ‘nothing is free’?

As websites continue to sell training contract application and interview advice to struggling students, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has told Legal Cheek it would “actively discourage” aspiring lawyers from using these services. However, these websites are standing by their practices.

Seeking out a training contract has been likened to the search for Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket, and though there are plenty of excellent free resources out there, some services are choosing to charge job hunters instead.

One website called My Training Contract, for example, offers application form review services for £27.99.

Screenshot via www.mytrainingcontract.co.uk

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment sells training contract packs — including CV guides, assessment day online training and interview prep help — for £49.99 (RRP £150). Another separate website had advertised “training contract and vacation scheme consultations” at £80 per hour, though we’ve been unable to access the site since we attempted to get in touch with them.

Screenshot via www.the-lawtutors.co.uk (link now broken)

A number of law students have told us they think this practice is “exploitative”, placing what one described as “unfair financial pressure” on people who are experiencing “plenty of monetary worries anyway”.

Another said these services are “morally wrong and unnecessary”. “There are a lot of lazy students who might feel privileged, they might think that they do not need hard work to accomplish something,” she thinks, “and that is why those TC advisers exist.”

Aside from students, the JLD is concerned too. Bryan Scant — who was chair of the representative body for young lawyers at the time of writing, but stepped down recently — told us:

“Any proposal that trainees could pay for advice that would guarantee them a training contract would be extremely concerning. Training contracts are granted on merit and at the discretion of the firm or organisation offering the training contract. We regularly meet firms and solicitors who actively encourage trainee solicitors and take pride in seeing them develop from the start of their training contract to the point of qualification. I would actively discourage any prospective trainee from using a ‘service’ that sells advice and instead encourage them to contact organisations like the JLD for free support and guidance in obtaining a training contract.”

Not everyone’s appalled, though. In the words of one student, “nothing is free”, and providing the advice came from somebody who had been through the process, she “personally wouldn’t have a problem” paying for it.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

But perhaps the best defence of this practice comes from the sites offering these services. One, www.mytrainingcontract.co.uk, provided us with a lengthy and informative comment, part of which is pasted here:

“The majority of candidates that work with us are the sort that firms tend to overlook — older candidates, career-changers, international students and those from non-traditional backgrounds. They are often incredibly able and have a lot to offer, but face rejection after rejection from firms because they don’t fit the mould… I’d argue that the JLD is perpetuating the problem by suggesting that training contracts are granted solely on merit. Most of us who’ve worked in law have seen training contracts and vacation scheme places go to a privileged few… The candidates who come to us just need a bit of practice to get that same confidence and polish in their interviews — skills which university, law school and dare I say the JLD should be equipping them with. The level of free support and guidance out there is wholly insufficient — candidates are taught to spell-check their applications and turn up to interviews on time, but not how to highlight relevant skills or demonstrate real enthusiasm.”

Additionally, a spokesperson from Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment stressed to us they have never claimed to guarantee aspiring solicitors a training contract. But there is so much anyone can do to improve their chances of success. They continue:

“If you want a training contract and someone has good quality advice to give — why not invest some money in your future and get some decent advice to improve your chances? Is it fair? Quite possibly not. But is it fair that some people go to Eton and Harrow and have better life chances than others?”

Throughout the years, Legal Cheek has reported on a number of individual lawyers charging aspiring solicitors for their training contract wisdom.

One DLA Piper solicitor was spotted offering training contract coaching and guidance to aspiring associates for £40 an hour. Lawyers at firms including Freshfields, Kennedys and Weil Gotshal have been caught out as well.

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23 Comments

Anonymous

How are these services “exploitative” or “morally wrong and unnecessary”?

They are providing a service in a free market place – if you don’t want to use them, then don’t?

(34)(3)

Not Amused

This is a difficult area and parliament should stop it. There is an offence in employment legislation of charging a candidate (as apposed to the employer) a fee for seeking employment (with all of the caveats for talent agents which you might expect).

Where that offence does not cover practices then a new one seems to me to be required.

We as a society need to police meritocracy as it is in all our interests for it to exist.

(5)(13)

Anonymous

You know what’s even more exploitative? The LPC/BPTC fees charged by the likes of BPP yet the JLD have done nothing remotely useful in that regard to protest

(43)(2)

Anonymous

None of these “consultants” can guarantee a training contract to anyone, so what is the point?
Also, it just makes sense to sign up to a forum like TSR / contact future trainees on LinkedIn for FREE advice from people who have gone through the process.

Note: I got advice from TSR. I give advice on LinkedIn. I’m going to an MC firm.

(11)(2)

Giles Follinghurst-Braithewaite (Oxon)

I am after some advice on LinkedIn.

Do you know how I can restore messages to my account from prior to 2011? It would also be helpful to know if there is a way of sending messages en masse without using the InMail function.

I am of course happy to pay for your advice.

(11)(3)

Anonymous

Yes but don’t forget the comment section on LC. That’s where the real advice is

(7)(0)

Crypto Boss

Slap 5 figures on XRP and thank me in 2020.

(10)(0)

Speculator

Tell me more.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The price would be far higher if they could guarantee a training contract.

For some these prices are not a barrier so there is a suitably large target audience. There are plenty of law students who come with family with wealth that will have no qualms with splashing £80×2 for a couple of hours’ consultancy and £28 for a scan of their application. A little under £200 for even a 10% boost to their chances will be a price worth paying for some and a drop in the ocean for others.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

To anyone reading: do not go on the student room for advice. It is painfully bad, and if you get a training contract after following it, that is despite TSR and not because of it.

It is a bunch of paranoid children working each other up over whether their ‘dream law firm’ (grow up – it’s a job not a supercar) will ever accept them when they only got three A*s at A level.

I’m actually at an MC firm and our recruiters tear their hair out over the rubbish they read on TSR. Almost everything I’ve seen there is rubbish.

This website contributes to the silliness by saying things like ‘the hunt for a training contract has been compared to a search for willy wonka’s golden ticket’. A) no one has made that comparison but you. B) there are several thousand training contracts available every year. C) training contracts are generally awarded meritocratically.

If you aren’t getting anywhere then chances are you don’t have enough experience, you didn’t write a good enough application, or you’re not doing well at interview, so instead of going on TSR and fantasising about applications with other students, go to law fairs and such to discuss it with recruiters.

(12)(2)

Anonymous

As a mod over on that place, this is 100% accurate.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Agree with others that paying for advice is silly when free resources are available.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

There is now a “Careers Advice” function on LinkedIn – utilise that, it is free. Other forums like TSR or Wikijob can also be helpful. Aspiring Solicitors also provide these services free to its members.

Outside of those, you should be able to access your careers service up to three years after graduating. I know these aren’t always the best, but at least they are free and in some cases the university even employ these same consultants to give you the same advice.

If you haven’t got the evidence law firms want on your application, even the best application writer in the world won’t be able to help you. If you have got that evidence, then you should be able to do a half-decent job yourself.

However, I understand to some candidates that £80 is like loose change and their time is much more valuable. However, if that’s the attitude they take then they will have a miserable time in a law firm anyway.

But most issues with applications tend to be related to basic drafting matters. You could get anyone to proof read an application and critical evaluate how you write, they don’t necessarily need to be a legal professional or legal recruiter.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

The Law Tutors are still active on LinkedIn even if their site has been taken offline. Seems to be mainly recent law grads who are giving the advice, none of which have even started a training contract.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I’ll tell anyone their application is shit, pro bono.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Everyone is talking about the free advice available “everywhere” but those advisors are so generic and obvious (for those who are focused and serious about gaining a TC) you might as well not bother. Think about the number of times you or a friend have gone to your university career advisor and left with nothing new but a new CV template.

I’m assuming that those selling such services are dedicating time and effort to tailor applications and work with the paying candidates to better their prospects.

Stop being so against something you know you’d like to have but your pride is too much.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

The consultants aren’t really providing a much better service than can be received for free though. They aren’t really dedicating their time, they are just throwing out the same templates, clichéd advice and charging for it.

(1)(0)

Fapmaster

Can anyone give me some advice on successfully solo kiting Zamorak in Runescape?

(3)(0)

Icedrop

Join RSD.

==ice==

(3)(0)

Zezima

Take a few party hats and rock cakes and you’ll be golden

(1)(0)

Bluerose13x

Things really went downhill after I lost my top spot.

(1)(0)

A drunk man looks at a thistle

This is bonkers. In Scotland, the Law Society staff will look over applications/CVs for free and the advice they give is generally pretty sensible so far as I’m told. Universities offer careers services.

Anyone paying for this is a clown.

(2)(0)

Deed U No

…since the level of free support and guidance out there is wholly insufficient —

I’d gladly pay the “guidance advisers” for cash for

– exam paper answers
– parliamentary lobby questions
– data tranche breaches
– etc etc etc …

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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