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London legal research centre under fire over £10-a-day intern roles

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The Bingham Centre says it’s ‘reviewing its policy’

A London-based legal research charity has drawn criticism on social media after offering would-be interns just £10 a day.

The internships at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law last “approximately” three months and come with a “daily travel and subsistence payment of £10 for the days when volunteers are in the office”, according to an online ad.

Screenshot of the Bingham Centre’s advert

The centre, which is named after the late judge Lord Bingham, was launched in 2010 to promote “the rule of law worldwide”.

Successful applicants — who will ideally have a masters or an undergraduate degree in law, according to the ad — can work from the organisation’s Russell Square HQ and will undertake tasks including drafting, research and event organisation.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Unfortunately, the Bingham Centre’s voluntary positions haven’t gone down well on Twitter.

Jolyon Maugham QC, a tax specialist at London’s Devereux Chambers, argued that only applicants “with money behind them” could apply for such a role. Others appeared to agree:

Responding to the criticism, the Bingham Centre’s director, Murray Hunt, told Legal Cheek:

“The Bingham Centre recognises that unpaid internships raise important issues of principle about equal opportunities and is reviewing its policy on this subject as part of its current strategic review.”

Meanwhile, Robert McCorquodale — director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), an umbrella organisation which includes the Bingham Centre — added:

“The Bingham Centre like many charities offer a number of part-time volunteer opportunities with reimbursement for travel and meals. We recognise that by incorrectly describing these roles as internships on our website we have caused confusion and have now taken steps to rectify the description accordingly. The experience offered to our volunteers is of a very high quality; they are fully involved in our research work and use the time to develop skills they can use in the future.”

As an interesting aside, BIICL is seeking a new director, according to its news page. The opening, unlike the internships, boasts a healthy “six figure salary”.

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