Advice

Do I take a pay cut for a job that might lead to a training contract?

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Short-term sacrifice, but potential long-term gain

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one wannabe lawyer is weighing up the value of money versus the value of potential career progression.

“A little background before I continue. I am a GDL graduate (pass) and I have always wanted to be a lawyer. I don’t have a training contract, but I do have years of work experience in my home country of Italy. The issue is last week I had an interview for a firm, which made me an offer that I accepted. It’s in an area of law I’m interested in but the firm doesn’t offer training contracts, and I am due to start later this month. However another law firm has since approached me for an interview for a paralegal position potentially with a view to a training contract, and I will have to complete a phone interview this week. I’m looking for some suggestions on what to do if I receive an offer from the second law firm. I am a professional, my word is sacred and something someone could rely on. I don’t want the first firm to look at my behaviour in a bad way. On the one hand, I know that accepting this other paralegal position will entail a pay cut, but, as the law firm recruits trainees from paralegals, it is something I think I might be ready to accept to pursue my career in law. I really want to avoid any negative repercussions.”

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34 Comments

trainee choices

I understand your situation. i have been working for a few years in a good paying paralegal role, i had an interview for a better role which i was offered and accepted. a week after accepting i was offered a training contract offer which entails a 20k pay cut to my current job. of course i accepted the pay cut to become qualified but it was a hard choice as i have a wife and twins on the way

My advice is find out the chances of you been offered a training contract during the interview and if you are offered the role and you want to take it, you have to then decide if you can afford to take the pay cut and will you have job satisfaction, you never want to take a job and think you’ve made the wrong choice.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Take the pay cut!

(2)(0)

All I want for Christmas this year is a TC

Speculate to accumulate my good man (or woman)

(3)(0)

Anonymous

+1 for the pay cut. In the long run, a year or two of less pay won’t matter, and if it leads to a TC then that’s pretty much worth any pay disparity.

My only advice is to be totally honest with the firm you have already accepted a job at. It’s not an ideal situation, but to be blunt you need to put yourself first and do what’s right for your career. Just make sure that in doing so, you don’t burn any bridges.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

If you get an offer from the second firm it would also be appropriate to explain you have another offer, and have a polite but frank discussion about the prospects of getting a training contract with them – and potentially also negotiate slightly better pay.

If it does seem that the second firm provide good prospects of offering a TC, I agree with others, take the pay cut (assuming it is still enough to live on) and be honest and open about why you have to pull out of the other job.

The first firm are also professionals, they will understand why you have taken that decision and they will be used to dealing with small hiccups like this when hiring. Good luck.

(8)(0)

Silver Circle Paralegal

Enquire what the training contract situation is with new new firm. Several firms have policies prohibiting paralegals applying for a training contracts unless certain requirements are met (eg. at my firm, 6 months working there and the backing of two partners).

(4)(0)

Anonymous

That seems quite unfair to need the backing of two partners just to apply for a TC. I have heard of people who work as a paralegal thinking that’s them in the door at least, but then end up not being able to actually progress much further.

One of my friends worked for a high street firm for a while, then they offered a traineeship to someone else who had essentially just walked in with a CV.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Only a pass in the GDL? Forget about the TC, son..

(3)(22)

Anonymous

99% of city firms will not accept a pass at GDL.

Wake up and smell the bacon people.

(4)(15)

Anonymous

B*llocks to working in a City firm. Yes, I earn much less of a salary that I might be able to do if I did, but I’m in the door at 9, out at 5, work a 15 minute walk away from the office and still earn enough to have a few holidays a year and be able to service a mortgage on a nice place in a decent coastal town. Plus, no obligation to have work emails set up on my phone and the ability to work from home whenever I like within reason.

Further, I have had direct client contact from the word go, and that has continued as the years have gone by.

Of course, others might prefer 60-70 hour weeks, weekends cancelled at the last minute and still only being able to afford a run down place in Zone 5 till they hit at least 5 years PQE and are physically and emotionally f*cked; their call I guess.

My view is that you’re a long time dead, and whilst it’s a cliche it’s highly unlikely that anybody has ever lain on their death bed wishing they had spent more time at the office.

(15)(7)

Anonymous

looool “decent coastal town”. Look there’s no point being in the door at 9, out at 5 if you still have to fight orcs on your way home to a hobbit hole on the outskirts of Minas Tirith.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

As a born-and-bred Zone 6-er, I object to your mockery of the outer zones…!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

This simply isn’t true.

(7)(5)

Anonymous

What isn’t? The made up “career conundrum” (again), or the fact that you can have a perfectly decent standard of living whilst doing something you love without working like a b*tch for 45 years before dying?

(9)(4)

Anonymous

Sorry mate, we’re talking about working in law… I don’t know what they do in the regions, but I can assure you that isn’t law.

(7)(3)

Anonymous

Not at all mate, your apology isn’t necessary. I’m a litigator, I do proper law in my opinion. The difference is that the value of my claims are small fry compared to City firms, i.e. only five to six figures in general.

But I get a kick from it, I like the majority of my clients, my working hours are very good and I’m not a small cog in a large machine.

As above, each to their own. Enjoy your 70+ working hour weeks and fat salary, you baller you 🙂

(4)(1)

Anonymous

You get a kick out of doing neighbour disputes for old people who have nothing better to do with their time/money?

Geez, each to their own I guess..

(6)(1)

Anonymous

If you have to say you do “proper law” then you don’t do proper law.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

The comment you responded to was in reference to the GDL. Most firms will accept a pass if your A-Levels and undergrad degree are up to scratch.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

It honestly depends on how often the firm exercises that option to give TCs to paralegals and how much of a pay cut it is. It’s one thing for firms to boast about giving TCs to paralegals but while some actively set aside a few TCs for their paralegals only, others merely say there is a ‘potential’ just to exploit their paralegals on low salaries. As for the first firm, I understand your concerns but you have to put yourself first. As long as you tell the firm in good time and your reasons, they cannot reasonably hold a grudge against you.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

A £20k cut from a para? You must be raking it in m8.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Definitely believable. I know at least two Paralegals getting around 50-65k doing finance in the City

(0)(0)

trainee choices

my pay is not blistering, the TC pay is the minimum of £18,400 in rural practice where i have been on a london wage before

(0)(0)

Nick

The fact that this question has even been asked is worrying.

Yes, of course you should take the pay cut, unless it is financially impossible for you to do so. Two years on a lesser salary, but then you are qualified and the world is your oyster. Or another few years on a better salary but as a paralegal and no career progression. It’s a no brainer.

Also, beware of ‘with the view to a training contract’ statements. It is either a training contract or it isn’t and this statement is utterly meaningless.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

This response makes no sense. “Yes, of course you should take the pay cut”, “beware of ‘with the view to a training contract’ statements” – these two statements are contradictory. If it’s right that something either is a TC or isn’t (a debatable view), why is it obvious that the writer should take a pay cut for something that isn’t a TC?

(9)(1)

Nick

They aren’t contradictory at all. He said “I’m looking for some suggestions on what to do if I receive an offer from the second law firm” – if he receives an offer, he should negotiate so that he also gets a training contract. I have seen this happen successfully. It may necessitate a pay cut but will lead to qualification.

I said beware of the statement, not avoid anyone who makes this statement to you. You should never accept a position on the basis of ‘with a view to a training contract’. Despite what you think, it is meaningless.

(1)(1)

Jones Day NQ

Screw the training contract, do the job in the field you actually want to be in. If you become an expert in it you don’t need to be qualified to work in a law firm.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Go filex route, cross qualify to solicitor using lpc exemption and stay on your good wage in the meantime before a bump when you qualify.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

I agree with Nick – the fact that you feel the need to even ask the question says a lot.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Would the GDL not allow you to work for the first firm at £20k more per year, then qualify as a solicitor after gaining a couple of years experience there after passing the SQE in 2019/2020?

Or would you need the UK first “qualifying” degree to do it this way? Was your first degree in the UK or Italy?

I would be very wary of a “loose” offer of a TC, particularly with £20k pa at stake. Loads of regional firms round this way operate in the same way, and it’s a pretty shoddy way of doing business tbh.

(2)(0)

Phillip Phagharty-Whetpance

I would ask for an extra Manx £1 note per diem. Not a shilling less!!!

(2)(0)

Baby Barista

Definitely negotiate with the first firm with regard to training. If the answer is a definitve ‘we will not give you a TC’ then move on. Time is too short. Get qualified and then you can ultimately set your sights on bigger and better things.

… or re-train as a barrister at the criminal bar, having taken a huge pay-cut, and have a blast despite the untold poverty and diary full of utter gash cases.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

The firm don’t offer training contracts. They didn’t say we might not. They said we don’t. You must have some excellent negotiation skills.

(0)(0)

DICKSWINGING DAVIS POLK MALE

PFFFFFFFFFF

I ONCE ASKED MY SUPERVISOR AS TO WHERE ALL THE PARALEGALS IN THE OFFICE HAD GONE

HE REPLIED THAT I’D EATEN THEM ALL

HE PROBABLY MEANT THAT I ATE UP THEIR WORK AND SALARIES

THAT’S WHAT 1:1 LEVERAGE DOES HUH

(4)(0)

Comments are closed.

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