Coronavirus could delay City law trainee spring start dates

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By Thomas Connelly on

LPC grads returning from breaks in far flung destinations will have to heed quarantine advice

City law firms are keeping a close eye on the global outbreak of the coronavirus after the government issued medical advice that could prevent some future rookie solicitors from commencing their training contracts on the agreed dates.

A significant number of Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduates due to start their TCs next month are currently travelling abroad, with many punting for exotic ‘gap year’ spots across Asia, including China, Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong.

But in response to coronavirus — a highly infectious disease which so far has claimed the lives of over 1,200, most in China — the government is now urging those returning to the UK from Asia, and who are feeling unwell, to self-isolate for 14 days and call the NHS 111 helpline.

GP surgeries are also understood to be encouraging patients returning from their far-flung travels to follow these precautionary steps, even if they are not displaying symptoms of the virus, which is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

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Legal Cheek understands many soon-to-be trainees now face an anxious wait over whether they will be able to start their training contracts on time, which in turn has created a headache for City firms, as this may disrupt their trainee induction timetables and potentially cause workflow issues further down line.

One City law insider told this website it was in the process of reaching out to its future trainees, urging them to follow government guidelines with an emphasis on the need to self-quarantine after visiting an affected country. Meanwhile, another source said their firm was contacting its 2020 trainees about their travel plans and the potential impact on start dates.

Many international law firms with offices across China have implemented special measures in response to the outbreak. Quinn Emanuel is reportedly reimbursing taxi fares for its Shanghai staff to avoid them having to use public transport, and encouraging the use of masks in the office. Reed Smith advised employees to “avoid all travel to mainland China”, while Linklaters told all employees in its Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong offices to work remotely. Meanwhile, Dentons’ regional arm, Dacheng, temporarily closed its office in Wuhan.

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