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Junior solicitor claims pricey hotline will help stressed out trainees who are too scared to ask for help

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But one lawyer tells Legal Cheek the service is simply ‘papering over the cracks of the problem’

In a bid to alleviate the stresses and strains placed on those at the very junior end of the legal profession, one solicitor has launched a new pay as you go helpline that allows trainees to ask experts basic legal questions. Controversially, however, he’s charging £1 a minute for the service.

Fraser Clark, the founder of the Legal Practice Helpdesk, says his hotline will help connect rookies over the phone with experienced tutors so they can discuss the basics of legal procedure. Clark claims the service will help trainees who might be too afraid to admit gaps in their knowledge to colleagues over concerns they will adversely affect the chances of being kept on post-qualification.

Reflecting on what prompted him to launch such a service, Clark, who qualified in 2014, said:

“Whilst training there were a couple of times when a quick call to a law tutor would have helped put me in the picture of an area I hadn’t studied since the Legal Practice Course (LPC). I think this is a common experience. It’s a systemic training issue for juniors, in that admitting knowledge gaps to colleagues can have serious implications for retention, and yet who else is there to ask? If we can assist on this, all the better.”

The service, however, isn’t cheap. Clark says users can purchase either a 10-minute or 30-minute slot, with prices starting at £9.99. On this fairly hefty price tag, Clark added:

“All of our tutors have years of post-qualification experience. I wish I could charge less, but this is good knowledge provided by very experienced people.”

Despite Clark’s cost claims, there are a number of free services already available to junior lawyers. LawCare, a charity that promotes and supports good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community, operates a free, independent and confidential helpline for lawyers.

Meanwhile, The Law Society of England and Wales’ Practice Advice Service, which has been in operation for over 25 years, provides free confidential support and advice on legal practice and procedure. It is staffed by experienced solicitors.

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But not everyone welcomed Clark’s entrepreneurial endeavours. Wishing to remain anonymous, one junior lawyer told Legal Cheek:

“It’s a weird service because it’s positioned as a way of helping scared junior lawyers but it’s papering over the cracks of the problem and could become a bit of an invisible crutch for individuals who should be building up the courage to ask questions within their firm or building up some resilience to what can be a tough environment.”

They continued:

“At £9.99 a pop there could be some junior lawyers/trainees shelling out of their own pocket when a client has paid a law firm for this advice.”

Struggling with stress? You can contact LawCare.

27 Comments

Anonymous

Beyond stupid. Hope they have professional indemnity insurance.

(40)(3)

Anonymous

As a trainee you are there to learn. Ask questions. If you’re right at the beginning of your legal career there are no such things as stupid questions. If you’re scared of asking your supervisor, ask an associate / more experienced trainee.

(34)(2)

Tranio

Wrong! As a pupil I was expected to “hit the ground running” and was already expected to know how to do things without asking questions or seeking help. The fact that many members of Chambers had parents who were members or former members clearly gave them an advantage. I was made to feel like an idiot when I did things by the Bar Course book.

I’m still at the Bar (somehow) but the idea that pupils/trainees always have an open door, a sympathetic ear and that there are “no stupid questions” is not he case everywhere.

(22)(16)

Just Anonymous

I agree that that is not how things always are.

That is, however, how things should be in any decent chambers/law firm. To the extent they’re not, then that should change.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

Members of my chambers were extremely helpful during pupillage, and they didn’t humiliate me too much when I asked silly questions. Depends on the set I suppose.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Some “supervisors” are supervisors only because they need to demonstrate ability to supervise people on their partnership track.

(18)(0)

Current Trainee

This is beyond silly. Just ask the questions. Trainees are there to learn. It’s expected that during your seats (some of which can be on areas you’ve never done or at least not since the LLB) you will develop practical experience of the area, which necessitates asking questions.

Or, if you realise that you really should know the answer to the stupid question you are asking, you could always go onto Practical Law and read one their Practice Notes. I had to do this the other day when I was asked something about bailment and could barely remember what it was.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

You often find that there is a lot of assumed knowledge in hastily given instructions you receive. Then it all comes down to you and your ability to mind read.

Good luck.

(14)(0)

ari

i really wanna join Schlubb Yehuda & Frotz. Their capital markets practice is one of the best in the world. Anybody got any tips?

(3)(7)

Anonymous

BUT DO THEY HAVE A YOUTUBE CHANNEL WE SHOULD ALL BE WATCHING? THAT’S WHAT I WANT TO KNOW.

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Ignore this new expensive untried and untested entrant to the market and use LawCare instead.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Nearly all firms have Practical Law don’t they?

Look up answers on there, as Current Trainee at 9.27am said.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

They also have an Ask service which is included in the subscription. Very helpful and the people who answer have years of practice behind them.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

If only you could talk to them though, rather than write a question, then wait 24 hours for a reply! It is brilliant though, if you can wait.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

If you’re really stuck just ask a 3rd/4th seater trainee or NQ, or a nice associate. Doesn’t have to be your supervisor.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Here is the lowdown:

This is never going to change. This will always be a high-pressured job. If you can, don’t get into it. If it’s too late, just ride out your TC. Decide at the end whether this is what you want to go into. Once you are in, it’s difficult getting out, and this ‘mental health’ awareness mumbo jumbo is nothing but marketing. It’s simply a façade.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Everybody talks about what it takes to be a good trainee. Part of the problem is that nobody talks about what it takes to be a good supervisor. I cannot count how many times I have received shi**y instructions, only to get told off for not understanding or doing things ”wrong”. Even if I write down the instructions given I get a bollocking for doing what I was told, when I am later informed ”that is not what I asked you to do!”.

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Been there.

10 years on…learned from it not to do it to others.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Perhaps there is a YouTube channel that offers mental health advice to lawyers that you could write an article on!? Just a thought.

(3)(0)

ehehehe

Yeah LC, why not?? I’m sure they’d even pay you!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Yar yar yar, me fakenhams got me shakenhams and BOOOYA

(0)(0)

Bojanga Mthanga

What you bin smokin’, Bro?

Can I have some?

(0)(0)

Chloe (23)

I’m so stressed I’ve started wetting the bed.

Is this happening to any other trainees?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes. I have been making your bed wet too.

Kind regards,

JD Partner

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Surely this is provision of legal advice – likely in breach of employment contract as well as SRA requirements…

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Providing legal advice is not a reserved activity, like conducting litigation for example. Anyone can do it. That said looks like they’re just providing know-how right, not legal advice?

(1)(0)

Actual Solicitor

Sorry, but developing the confidence to ask questions and address them to the appropriate person is a key skill for anyone’s legal career. If you’re not learning that as a trainee then you’re failing in a key part of your training. This service seems like an unhelpful crutch.

I’m also doubtful about the quality of advice. What competent solicitor is manning this phone line for less than £20 an hour (a big chunk of which presumably goes to the company, not the person providing the advice)?

(3)(0)

Comments are closed.

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