Comment

‘I’m a future magic circle trainee, yet I’ll be living in an Airbnb during my LPC because I can’t afford London rent’

By on
86

One Legal Cheek commenter shares their take on law firm maintenance grants

Scoring a training contract at a magic circle firm is a ticket not just to a healthy salary, but to a helping hand before your training has even began. Firms help soon-to-be trainees throughout their studies, paying both Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) fees and providing maintenance grants while students sit these, too.

Legal Cheek shone a light on this earlier in the week when we exclusively reported that two magic circle firms had upped their LPC maintenance grants by 43%. Now, Freshfields and Clifford Chance give their future trainees £10,000 to sustain themselves during their accelerated LPC, while the remaining trio pay £7,000.

The 2018 Firms Most List

With many smaller firms unable to front LPC fees let alone living costs, future magic circle trainees are in an enviable position. But, how far does £7,000 actually stretch? One Legal Cheek commenter shared, no holds barred, their take on corporate outfits’ approach to LPC grants, revealing they’ve considered rejecting their training contract offer because of the financial difficulties they anticipate they’ll face during the LPC. We’ve reproduced the comment in full below, let us know whether you agree or disagree below the line.

“As a working class individual who is about to start the LPC, and who holds an offer from one of the three MC firms listed who haven’t increased their grant, I’m genuinely frustrated.

I’ll receive no parental support during the LPC, and despite working since graduating last summer, I’ve budgeted around £30 to live off after I’ve paid rent, bills etc. Currently I cannot even find somewhere to live as my parents don’t qualify to be guarantors, and the amount granted isn’t enough for me to pay my rent upfront in the structure demanded by all letting agencies. I’m fully expecting to have to hop from AirBnB to AirBnB throughout the whole course.

The current system undeniably results in individuals from backgrounds similar to mine to rejecting offers as £7000 to live from in London for 8 months is quite simply impossible. Even with my savings I worry that I’m going to run out of money prior to completing the course, and quite frankly I have no idea what will happen if that occurs. Even at this point I’ve had to consider dropping out, and resultantly lose everything I worked for when attending a shit comprehensive school and university.

I appreciate that firms may not wish to increase their spending on LPC grants, and if so, surely it makes a lot more sense to means test the amount granted. Does it really make sense that I will receive the same amount as someone who’s parents live in London? Or that I will receive the same amount as someone who’s family can afford to pay their rent during the course? I genuinely think not.

The current size of LPC grants undeniably contributes to a lack of social mobility within the legal sector. If firms are serious about this issue, they’ll follow CC and FF.”

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

86 Comments

Anonymous

Have you considered studying the GDL elsewhere (somewhere more affordable)?

I appreciate that is a significant upheaval, but makes living arrangements in the long run far more stable…

(33)(20)

Anonymous

Did you read the scenario?! Can you read at all?

(36)(19)

Anonymous

This is talking about the LPC first of all.

Second of all, why should they have to change? A working class person should not have to alter their career goals because they cannot afford to live in London. Moreover, there’s often not the choice to move between cities for studying the LPC. More needs to be done to make this a less middle-class profession, the maintenance grants are a huge part of this.

(3)(1)

Not Amused

Demanding rent guarantors is seriously harming social mobility.

It should be banned.

(21)(26)

Anonymous

How is banning demanding rent guarantors going to improve social mobility?

Many of the persons who would have previously been asked to provide a solvent guarantor (some of whom will be able to do so, and will therefore be granted a tenancy) will no longer be able to get a tenancy at all because landlords are not charities and because it is so time-consuming and expensive to evict a tenant who fails to pay his rent.

What the landlord will do is demand all rent in advance and a four-month deposit as well to mitigate any chance of loss arising from letting to a tenant-of-straw. And if you ban demanding rent in advance and deposits of greater than two months’ rent then those tenants will not get any private housing at all, ever.

Landlords are not charities (usually, and even the ones that are want to be paid).

(16)(3)

FFs

Landlords are the scummiest people together with the letting agents I have had the pleasure to meet.

(11)(7)

Anonymous

Well there’s a sweeping generalisation….

(8)(3)

Anonymous

You can always ask to defer your offer and take a year out, working to earn and save money at home. Or you could go abroad (somewhere like Australia where the wages for working in bars, coffee shops are really good)

Or you could work part-time in London whilst studying the LPC. If you’re joining a MC firm you must have a good cv – it would be easy to get a small job to help balance costs.

Most firms also offer interest free loans if you are really struggling, payable once you’re doing your training contract.

(53)(4)

Anonymous

Finally a sensible post.

How about speaking to the firm and explaining the situation- I am sure they would have experienced similar situations before and would give consideration to either an additional grant or loan.

If the poster can do nothing other than rant about the situation, rather than find a solution to the problem, then I wish him/her all the best moving forward in this industry.

The people I genuinely sympathise with, are the young legal aid lawyers, who find themselves in similar situations without the trainee salary ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ to look forward to.

(32)(2)

Anonymous

It’s an incredibly daunting to move to just speak to a firm though when you are from a working class background, it makes you feel like you’re not as worthy and is not something people feel comfortable to draw attention to. Imagine the fear and awkwardness that follows no we won’t do that, so what are you going to do?

(3)(3)

Anonymous

The LPC is a piece of piss. You could easily work 20 hours a week whilst doing it and still have time for far more of a social life than you’ll get as a trainee.

(91)(16)

MA2410

Is the correct answer.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

I had my fees paid by a top West End firm but no maintenance grant at all so I worked 20 hours a week as a paralegal to pay my rent and travel. I understand the author’s frustration but they are still luckier than some.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Some training contracts stipulate you cannot work alongside studying the LPC

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Totally agree I did the Lpc full time (not accelerated), worked 20-30 hours a week (dropped to 10 hours during exam weeks and taking annual leave during exams) and still got a distinction. Lpc was not hard.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Magic circle trainees complaining about expenses and salary just shows what’s wrong with the legal profession.

(82)(22)

Anothe MC trainee

Could you live for 7 months in London on £7,000? It’s a real struggle if your parents don’t support you.

(35)(31)

Anonymous

Nobody is forcing you to move to London. Train somewhere local then!

(39)(36)

Anonymous

So only people with parental support should work in London?

(25)(27)

Anonymous

If the rent in London is such an issue to this individual then study the LPC at a different location. Why does it have to be London?!

Anonymous

Because all the MC firms require you to study with your cohort in London.

Anonymous

You don’t need parental support to do it.

I self funded the LPC, paid £700 rent a month and didn’t starve living in London. I had to work a fair few hours to make ends meet, but if I had £7k in my pocket + the ~12k the LPC cost back then it would have been an absolute walk in the park.

Anonymous

No only people with parental support CAN afford to study in London on these grants.

A guy smarter than you

Some firms make it compulsory for their trainees to do the LPC in London. Stop speaking out of your rear.

(67)(19)

Blogger

The firm will literally mandate that trainees study in London. Your post could not be more incorrect.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

Nonsense. I am from a similar background and only secured a City TC during/after the LPC. Paid my way through both the GDL and LPC with a combination of savings and part time work. I had to take out loans to pay tuition fees, which I’m now paying back. Had no parental support either.

This individual needs to see how good of a position they are in and stop complaining. LPC fees paid for? Maintenance grant? If this is what you really want to do, suck up and make it work.

(70)(14)

Anonymous

They’re literally asking for advice on how to make it work. Don’t be bitter just because they got into the MC.

(37)(36)

Anonymous

Assuming everyone wants to train at an MC firm. Good one.

(19)(4)

Kirkland Future Trainee

Just join Kirkland. Money is flying around for us.

(67)(6)

Shoosmiths

Please sir, give me some money. We don’t even get toilet paper in our offices

(56)(7)

Anonymous

Some actual advice since so many bitter people in this thread are being so unhelpful.

1. See if you can work part time at the weekend in a bar or something. Contrary to what others say, if you’re doing the accelerated LPC then you won’t realistically have time during the week to work. I had a paralegal job who offered me to work part time during it and I simply couldn’t have done it without skipping a lot of the LPC work. If it’s not accelerated this doesn’t apply. The full length one leaves you with two days a week free, normally.

2. Talk to your firm. Most offer loans against your future salary of up to £2k. Most of my intake did this.

3. Most student bank accounts will extend your student overdraft facility during the GDL/LPC. If you haven’t dipped into this already then it should add at least one or two thousand to your resources.

Hope this helps. Ignore the idiots above.

(84)(4)

Anonymous

Is the 2k loan exempted from tax?

(1)(6)

Anonymous

It’s a loan, it’s not part of your salary/earnings.

(20)(0)

Anonymous

So you get to save on taxes simply by taking the loan? (In that case all trainees should take it!)

(3)(11)

Anonymous

Well no, it’s a loan. You pay it back (usually as a deduction from your salary).

It’s just like taking out any other loan, there is no “savings on taxes”

Anonymous

Salary deduction is a way of reducing your tax burden. By reducing your salary (subject to tax) in exchange for a loan (not subject to tax), you declare a lower overall income and thus pay less income tax and NI contributions!

Anonymous

Loans are repaid after tax, no before it. Moron.

LL and P

I agree with your comment. Some of these kids think they have found a loophole that no one else has ever seen. Quite moronic tbh.

Anonymous

Yes. It’s a loan that comes out of your salary before tax.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

I sympathise with your position, and think the advice of Anon at 10:49am is excellent. I’d also add that perhaps you can look into finding a flat or houseshare. Have you tried spareroom.com? You can find a room in Stratford/Tottenham/Walthamstowe for £200pcm including bills.

(29)(2)

Anonymous

The problem is MC trainees are looking for apartments in Chelsea and Kensington! I’m training at a silver circle firm and used my grant to pay my rent. I rent a room in a 4 bed house in Stratford and it’s £450pcm including bills and Internet. Nice house and only takes 20 mins to get to the office.

(39)(16)

Anonymous

Oh come on that is exceptionally cheap rent. Most places within a decent commutable distance are min £750-800/month, even in Stratford

(30)(8)

Anonymous

That’s not true. Just go on rightmove. There’s loads of good rooms available for £500pcm! All clean and close to station.

(20)(7)

Anonymous

What’s “decently commutable”?

Stratford is zone 2/3 which, all things considered, is very central from the point of view of most commuters. Even from certain locations in zones as geographically far out as 5 and 6, you can be in Central London on a fast train within 15-20 mins – and the rent is obviously cheaper! There is life beyond zone 1!

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Let’s face it

Stratford is a sh1thole

Should have been a banker

Brexiteer

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

Anonymous

It’s cheap but it’s not exceptionally cheap. Completely possible to find somewhere decent at that price.

(7)(1)

Broke asf

They are ungrateful twats. I live in Croydon and have to pay around £600 a month for rent and I’m only on £18k a year. Whats worse is TFL are raising prices every month because of lazy train drivers going on strike! Didn’t get a grant nor was my lpc paid for. Magic circle trainees stop whining.

(34)(9)

Anonymous

Going by OP’s logic, I guess MC firms should also means test salaries, right?

(12)(3)

Anonymous

Might not be a popular idea, but how about doing an LPC LLM? That way you’re eligible to apply for the student loans company post grad loan and that doesn’t have to just be used for you let course fees, it can be used to live on. Not ideal I know, but this seems too good an opportunity to miss due to lack of funds, and the loan is on the same terms as the undergrad tuition fee loans. Might be an option.

(8)(4)

Anonymous

If OP has a TC it’s very unlikely they’ll be able to choose which LPC they’re doing.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

The commentators here either (i) can’t read (ii) didn’t read the original post (iii) have no knowledge of the legal/LPC area or (iv) just plain stupid and want to throw out stupidness!

When a firm offers to pay for your LPC you have to follow their rules of attending a specific LPC provider, duration of the course provided and at a certain time period before your TC begins. So suggesting that the original poster should take time off, work part time, commute (when you don’t know where their hometown is), defer their start date or anything as stupid is absolutely ridiculous!

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Strongly suggest speaking to your firm. My (silver circle) firm specifically stated in an email that if we need any extra help to ask them. As others have have said above, it’s not rare to get a loan which might help pay six months rent up front to save using Airbnb, which would be an expensive option! Good luck

(18)(0)

Clifford Chance Trainee

Can I just move in with Katie King? 😏

(33)(2)

Anonymous

No.

(2)(4)

Anonymous

As an employer (small firm circa 45 people) it’s quite amazing the things people find to complain about and the ease with which they see obstacles in front of them.

Seriously? The LPC (even accelerated) is a walk in the park compared to the challenges that life will bring thereafter, both professionally and / or personally.

The trainees in my firm are on £22k, work exceptionally hard, do not get any kind of grants, live in London and just get on with it, some are also doing their LPC part time – they are an admirable bunch. Some people (like me) even had to borrow money to do the LPC, hard to believe but it’s true.

If money is tight and there are no other extenuating circumstances. Just get a job, there is most of Saturday and Sunday not to mention some evenings – should you need to study outside 9-5 or see family / friends.

Sometimes, it’s just a question of commitment.

(20)(34)

JD

I smell bullshit. No employer is reading LC! I bet you’re some fat kid eating crisps on your laptop!

(55)(3)

Anonymous

Why fat? And which flavour crisps?

(25)(1)

JD

Fat people tend to make up shit all the time and Proventil cheese flavour!

(12)(5)

Furious Trainee

You greedy c**t, only paying £22k. That’s a bloody joke. McDonald’s workers earn more!!!!

(35)(8)

Anonymous

Interesting pool, denigrating people who are overweight and singling people out in lower paid jobs as somehow reprentative of anything other than corporate greed.

(5)(8)

BLP

Overweight fat people only have themselves to blame. Instead of complaining about not having enough money to pay rent etc, stop eating KFC and Dominoes everyday you fat bastards.

(13)(3)

CC trainee

Fat people should not be allowed to use the NHS for free!!

Corbyn. Symphathiser

Yes they should.

Trumpenkreig

Piss off.

Anonymous

Head of Diversity at McMillan Williams maybe. STFU Pls? You pay paralegals £16,500… AWKS

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I sympathise, being in a similar position (although not with an MC firm). As I’m doing the accelerated LPC I took 6 months after graduating to work full time. In addition if you’ve been with your bank for a substantial period they’ll usually allow you to increase your overdraft facility to in the region of £2,000, which is where mine currently sits.

In terms of places to live there are plentiful apps/sites such as spareroom.com where you can find a cheap room in a house share. Just ensure you go and visit and talk things through with housemates/landlords before signing. For example the house I live in is shared with three others and I deal directly with a private landlord so no agency fees/contract change fees etc etc and the lease it sound with a decent break clause for me.

In addition once in London get yourself a student oyster, if you’re doing the accelerated and are in uni all week the monthly ticket saves you a lot. There are plenty of ways to stretch your money if you just plan ahead and be careful with it.

(10)(0)

Wash n Wear

Speaking as someone who changed their mind career wise at 24, studied an llb part time in 2 years with the next two years completing the lpc and the PSC (concurrently and part time) all whilst working 40 hour weeks as a Paralegal unfunded by parents or firm (and on a salary of sub £30k) to then complete the equivalent means application for qualification at the same time over those last two years and changing job three times to do so, stop whining and be thankful for what you’ve got in the first place.

(6)(8)

Anonymous

Super impressive!

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Professional and career development loans are low interest with no payments required for the duration of the course. The trainee will hardly notice the repayments once they start in the firm.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Try being a pupil barrister.

Fucking sols, you’re all “ooh, ooh, it’s so difficult!”

Grow up.

(18)(4)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories