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DWF is looking to recruit its first ever pupil barrister

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Following BSB approval

barrister wig

National behemoth DWF is to offer pupillage for the first time next month, Legal Cheek can reveal. The major recruitment move comes after the outfit’s specialist advocacy unit received approval from the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

DWF Advocacy, which operates much like an in-house set of chambers, confirmed it will be taking on just one pupil who will be based in its Manchester office.

Although the firm’s current crop of advocates are exposed to a broad range of work, it is anticipated that the pupil will focus on civil and employment issues during their 12-month training period. As part of this, the baby barrister will receive extensive on the job training and undertake both written and oral advocacy. The pupillage award on offer? £30,000.

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Explaining the motivation behind the new pupillage offering, Sahar Farooqi, director of DWF Advocacy, told Legal Cheek:

“We have pursued this as a means of playing an important part in the long-term progression of the business and the profession more widely. We are looking forward to developing a strong pupillage programme that is rewarding for our pupils and offers exposure to a range of exciting and interesting work. In the future we hope to build on this by looking to offer more pupillages across our national network.”

The 27-office-outfit revealed the single training slot will be offered through the Pupillage Gateway. The Bar Council-operated system reopens for browsing on 28 November and will now allow bar hopefuls to submit up to 20 applications — a recent increase from the previous limit of 12.

Although rare, DWF isn’t the first law firm to offer pupillage. In 2015, we reported that London litigation outfit Kobre & Kim was looking to take on a pupil. More recently, international law firm Dechert posted an advert via the Gateway seeking a rookie barrister for its London office.

Pupillages aside, Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List 2019 shows that DWF takes on around 40 trainee solicitors each year. The firm does not disclose the salaries of its newly-qualified associates.

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44 Comments

Andrew Leatherpants

Sorry LC, to clarify we are seeking a barista, to add to my personal travelling staff.

As I stride into whichever boiler room office is blessed with my presence that day, I like a fresh, hot coffe to wake me up.

We are also advertising for a foot masseuse. Competitive salary, double that of an insurance paralegal in our Liverpool office. Also includes “Andrew’s special benefits package”.

(47)(0)

Anonymous

What’s a “coffe”?

(1)(3)

Andrew Leatherpants

Coffee cut with amphetamine.

Keeps me in top shape for taking over infinite numbers of middling regional insurance firms.

(14)(0)

JD Partner

We’ve got a few pupil barristers if you catch my drift

(2)(0)

JD Equity Partner

We need to talk about your performance. My office in 10.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Top bantz, 10/10.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

That’s not a picture of DWF’s Manchester office Aishah. It is however a picture of Pinsents’ Manchester office. And Beachcrofts’…

(16)(2)

Anonymous

Don’t listen to the naysayers Aishah. It can be whatever you want it to be.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

“Who needs FACTS when you have EMOTIONS?” – Aishah Hussein, 2018

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Said every criminal and family lawyer, ever!

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Not true with family law. It’s far more simple, just “let the mother win”. No law or emotions required – at least in crime you have to play the jury.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

I walked past it this morning. Although the building does indeed house Pinsents and Beachcrofts, it told me that it identified as a DWF office. So it’s a DWF office.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

£30k is decent for pupillage in Manchester, what do they pay for “tenancy” though?

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Less, I imagine, than the same barrister would get doing the same work from the chambers they will end up at when this penny drops.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

NQ rates at DWF in London these days?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I think it’s about £65k

(2)(1)

Anonymous

internal memo confirmed this to be £85k NQ from Jan 2019

(1)(9)

Rupert; a US Firm associate

Chicken feed!

(0)(0)

Anton

No, it isn’t!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You can buy a 6 bedder in Manchester for £80k

(4)(1)

Anonymous

But would you want to live there?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

I know people that work in their Advocacy unit and basically the work they are doing makes a mockery of what people get to do at places Quest, LPC and even the former Lyons Davidson advocacy shop before it closed up. To be fair, I don’t know about how the pay is but I will be asking them.

The BSB endorsing them to offer a pupillage would tend to suggest what my friends have told me right about the quality of work. In the end though, pupillage is pupillage!

(11)(0)

Warvy Heinstein QC

Well, with such well crafted writing, I’m sure they will be thrilled to get your application. Good luck, you will be needing it.

(6)(5)

Barfy Wankstain

Horrific. Just. Horrific.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I literally can’t understand what you’re on about. We’re you high or outwith when you wrote this garbage?

(2)(7)

Anonymous

Same. I genuinely couldn’t work out whether this post was positive or negative towards DWF.

(13)(2)

Lozif Vague baronson

We’ve offered pupillage for ages where is our shout out? Do your research for Christ’s sake.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

DWF advocacy – that’s basically knockabout PI work isn’t it? Good luck if you are interested in that dying branch of the profession (in which case maybe working in-house is the answer) but I wouldn’t touch PI with a barge pole.

Grim insurance clients. Bullsh1t whiplash. Excessive compo for RTAs. Not exactly a noble calling is it?

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Seems like typical pupil work at a lot of non-London based chambers to be fair.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

True facts.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

They’ve got a commercial/chancery group which does International Arbitration work, as well as others doing General civ. Its an interesting model given how much they cover but it’s yet to be proven. They don’t have silks like Herbies or JHA…yet.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Chancery?

Business and Property my boy!

(11)(0)

Anonymous

BiG BiZniZ

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Interested to know what the NQ rate for counsel will be compared to solicitor at DWF.

(12)(0)

Rumple

Whatever the amount, it will be paid in penny shares following the IPO, and dividends paid in DWF’s own cryptocurrency.

They are mulling over the name, but Leathercoin is a top contender.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Not an unsurprising move. Keeps the costs in-house and allows them to control the training of advocates.

The salary makes sense. While a number of external chambers pay less as a pupillage award, this pupil won’t have an opportunity to make up the difference on their feet during their second six because all brief fees will go directly to the business.

As someone above mentioned, this is something other firms have don’t before. I recall some large in-house teams also doing this (think it was a bank) in the recent past.

I expect the advert will go on the pupillage gateway next week. My query would be the impact on existing non-qualified advocates as DWF not obtaining the pupillage deciding to leave following the decision.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Pffft. Yet another attempt to exploit the man-in-the-middle gap. Something for those who can do the basic low-level advocacy that most sols are scared of, but who don’t have the brains or ability to take on late briefs or offer specialist advice.

This treads on solicitor-advocates’ toes, not barristers’.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

^^^^This^^^^

(5)(0)

RealityBites

Don’t be fooled. The recruitment process is about as thorough as picking a straw, management is totally chaotic and the salaries are pitiful for the work that is expected. They’ll shove their ‘unique’ vision down your throat so much you’ll be disrupting your wellbeing to help them progress.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

I suspect that DWF Advocacy will mainly entail the insurance backed work. It does make sense – the current way in which junior insurance backed work at the “commercial” (e,g, mixed civil bar) is funded needs to be looked at. I know a lot of sets like Hardwicke, St Philips or No5 process a lot of the commercial/property county court work and at the junior end it is just not feasible. Generally the Firm has Service Level Agreements which mandate fixed fees (usually shocking – £250 for applications and small claims, £450 for Fast Track) which is only paid “on the conclusion of the matter” or sometimes even “upon costs recovery”. That’s why you often see someone who seems very good from, say Hardwicke (most recent example I can think of) who is down as charging £250 in the Costs schedule.
The “better” work, such as Multi Track and High Court matters is slightly better with rates around £5,000-£7000 for a 2/3 day trial. It makes no sense to spend more money (which even though £250 is a crap fee, costs more in the long run than paying an in-house advocate £30,000) and for junior counsel to waste their time making no money.

They should just outsource the Multi Track work to Counsel and service the rest with in house counsel/pupils. Seems like a win win.

Also, who on earth wants to work for £250 they “might” get paid if costs are recovered. At least the in house barrister is actually getting the £30,000 in their pocket!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Indeed, even at very good sets like 4 New Square I believe some of the junior insurance backed prof neg work is woefully underpaid – £175 per initial advice on prospects. Very often this work can clutter up a junior practice and prevent development with better privately paid work. Clerks end up being obsessed with being able to satisfy large insurance clients on the basis that “they bring so much billing in” when actually the work is all dross.

The better option, rather than using Counsel at all for small claims and applications, is to just use LPC or some other County Court Advocate scheme. They charge about £50.

Mind you, in certain areas (e.g. smaller business to business disputes, Landlord and Tenant, professional negligence etc) I imagine that insurance is probably the future – more and more it is simply too expensive to pay privately and more SME’s and individuals are obtaining insurance (which, after all, costs very little). I wouldn’t be surprised in the future if most litigation was funded this way in civil areas. Private payment will be the preserve of the Chancery Division and Commercial Court (oops, sorry “Business and Property Courts of England and Wales”).

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I can’t agree with any of the above. I know firms that use LPC/Quest type advocates. They’re fine for simple things like infant approvals but get them to do contested applications and things go wrong. The Bar represents tremendous value for money for solicitors.

I am also sceptical about employing junior barristers and keeping the independent bar for seniors. Barristering is not a 9-5 job and I’d need a hell of a lot more than 30k to manage it. I doubt there are many babies at the civil bar earning that little. Whether you’re employed or not, papers will always come in very late, you’ll have to work weekends and often travel to far flung parts of the country. I think this is only feasible if you have complete control (as far as that is possible) over your working habits.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I think I was really just talking about the notorious “£250” hearings- obviously I don’t think LPC advocates are appropriate for everything but it really begs the question of whether Counsel is required for a small claim or application to set aside default judgment in a County Court. If the LEI budget is really so strained that they can’t pay reasonable fees (£750 minimum, £1250 small claim) then it seems they have to find alternatives.

Is a Junior barrister really getting any development or experience from this sort of work? Beyond doing some small claims and applications as a pupil, I don’t think it really develops a practice any further after 2nd six.

I agree it’s tremendous value for money – it’s an absolute fraud and a steal! That you can get a barrister at a small claim for £250 is amazing for Solicitors. Is it helping either person? I don’t think so – perhaps the Junior person might be a bit quite but they only need to do one fast track trial @ £1705 to make up for several dross hearings. I wonder if it may end up eventually being a god send that this work stops coming to the bar!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I’ve been against some of their counsel in high court cases and colleagues have been against them in arbitration. It is really hard to pin down what they are doing exactly because they seem to have barristers who are 10 years call getting the work that senior juniors in serious sets would get but also then advocates running about doing CCMCs and multi day employment tribunals which is the food for you 1-5 year call barristers.

As somebody else said, if they get silks in it will probably become a different beast. They’ll then be hunting down work bottom up and top down.

As for the money, £30k is alright for pupillage (£17k being the minimum) but clearly if they’ve any hope of retaining the pupil on qualification their must be a significant increase planned…

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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