‘Will coronavirus cost me my magic circle TC?’

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I’m due to start in August 2022

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one future magic circle trainee is concerned that the coronavirus pandemic could result in her training contact being rescinded.

“Selfish question here: I have a TC offer from a MC [magic circle] firm that I have accepted and am due to start the GDL in September, with my eventual start date being August 2022. How likely is it that my offer will be rescinded? Or is it possible that I will be unaffected?”

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It’s too early to tell.


Lionel Hutz, Attorney at law

Your TC is as good as dead, 100% of TCs were cancelled in 2008. Then all the rejected future trainees disappeared from the face of the Earth and no one has ever heard from them to this day. Netflix preparing series about this mystery now, it will be called “TC King”.

Hope this helps.



I don’t think this can be said with any certainty surely?


Lionel Hutz, Attorney at law

In all seriousness nothing bad will happen, crisis is bad news for people who are looking for jobs now, not people who already have them.

Even the trainees that are about to start in September are unlikely to be affected (they will start bringing real money only when they qualify in 2 years anyway). Do not understand why people with TCs are freaking out so much.



Surely not? This is for a TC commencing Aug 2022 no?



Too early to tell for sure but I suspect you will be unaffected. Your TC is ages away and firms will still need trainees.



Since you’re starting in two years there is little chance you will be directly adversely affected by the pandemic. Your GDL might be moved online and both the course provider and your firm will put in effort to reduce disruption.

Even if some in the 2020 intake has to be pushed back to 2021, the domino effect is unlikely to reach and affect you. The more successful the firm, the less graduate recruitment will be affected as they have a long term strategy and diversified practice areas.


Mr Big Shot

“The more successful the firm, the less graduate recruitment will be affected as they have a long term strategy”

X – Doubt


Reality check

All those fancy strategies are going to the bin now. The managing consultants are having the time of their life rewriting them from the scratch.


Covid LLP

You should be fine. Those starting in September should be most worried. Especially those who are studying the LPC currently and have had their exams cancelled. There should be more security for those who have already completed the LPC, but only time will tell.



Worried in the sense of postponement to a 2021 March/Sept intake I assume?



Exams are going ahead (albeit remotely) at the University of Law so that’s a big wory off many people’s shoulders. I doubt firms will be postponing entire cohorts’ worth given that trainees are not exceedingly expensive to pay, and are a cheap source of labour (especially critical to clients in times like this).

I think the anxiety will be much worse for people qualifying this year or looking for a TC/job at the moment.



Survey on COVID-19 impact perception for junior/aspiring lawyers:



Would anyones response differ for those starting in 2021? (Starting LPC August/Sept?)



How safe are Sept 2020 trainees likely to be?



Fair chance you might asked to defer but they’ll probably chuck a few grand your way to do it.

I had the time of my life travelling as a deferred 2009 intake trainee, it was amazing.

Qualifiers of 2020/21 are the ones who’ll bear the brunt. Plus the usual junior associates, senior associates with no following and underperforming partners who always get the chop in times like this.

Obviously, it might make you think whether you want to work in an industry which takes that approach. Sitting here with a wife, kid and mortgage all dependent on my salary is a pretty uncomfortable feeling right now, even though I did save in the good times.



I’ve heard that some that decided to defer for ££ in 2009 went back to no job? I fancy the prospect of travelling but worried this may happen?



Probably more of a 2008 intake issue than 2009 if it happened, things were steadying a bit by 2010.

I certainly didn’t hear of it, and lots of us were in that boat, they just cut trainee recruitment and spread us over a couple of years. However, i can certainly imagine it might have happened at smaller firms, I was in the relatively gilded magic circle bubble.

Ultimately, they told a lot of us “defer because there’s no job for you right now” which made the decision simpler!



I completed my LPC in 2018 so it has already been quite the wait. Fingers crossed…



I can understand the desire to get started, but please realise a year isn’t much in the context of a forty (fifty at this rate) year career.

You’re not going to get much meaningful training if you go into deathly quiet departments where the Associates are hoarding every billable hour they can to save themselves from the chop. Also, those just aren’t going to be particularly pleasant working environments.



Unsafe, unless you have already completed the LPC and even then it’s tenuous



If you die, then yes it will cost you your TC (along with your life).



What about those due to qualify in September?



They all suddenly have expressed a deep deep love for insolvency and litigation.



This whole post and the comments within are simply trying to create panic amongst aspiring lawyers – most are ill informed talking about cancelled exams on the LPC when they have not been cancelled.

If you have a some helpful serious insight please do go on to answer. If you are just trying to ruin people’s day and create panic, I suggest you should take a hard look at yourself and stop being such a miserable wretch.



Have you ever seen a helpful comment in Legal Cheek career conundrum section? If you want help and advice, you have come in the wrong place.



I think this pandemic will yet again spark more, unwanted change. I think more people will work from home, which will probably mean less of a need for trainees to do the printing. How will those trainees then become associates who would then become partners. You need to start somewhere.

Look at the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is still ongoing. Yet same sex marriage has been recklessly introduced across many regions of the world.

Is it just me, or do odd solutions often get implemented that don’t really fix the problem at hand?


Where did you train? Normal firms have print rooms to do the printing, not trainees.



Ever heard of high street or regional firms in your City of London ivory tower? Arsehole.


Even in high street makes no sense to ask qualified personnel to do printing – it costs client more. You can always have a PA to do it (unless it is a 2 people shop, but that one is unlikely to have an army of trainees).



Yes I agree. What’s the one thing that trainees aren’t? Qualified. So they do printing. A moron and an elitist, what a combination. I’ll let you get back to quaffing champagne while you laugh at the rest of us working in the real world.

I guess no one can stop you if you love ordering people who have spent 4-5 years in uni to print bundles all day long. This is a free country.

I prefer to give my trainees legal research / drafting tasks (obviously less important ones).


Sigh, you really don’t get it do you? It’s about resource. If you’re in a smaller firm or legal department there is less resource to do certain tasks so naturally it will fall to the person lowest on the ladder to do certain jobs. What do you suggest these organisations do, grab people off to street to do their printing? I think being sealed off in a big firm has clearly caused an IQ and common sense depletion in your brain.

I really do not get and will never get why would you need to torture kids like this when you can easily find a person who 1) can do it more professionally (because this is the main thing that they do); and 2) at much lower cost for the firm and the client (because this person did not study in a uni for 4-5 years and does not have gigantic student debt to pay).

Printing 500 pages a day does not develop trainees as lawyers (unlike say checking bundles for a filing / hearing, which is great for developing attention to detail). Training contract is not about beasting a trainee to extract maximum profit out of them. It is about checking how good the person is and making them a good lawyer and fee earner for the firm.


I feel like the important and over-arching point raised in my post has been massively overlooked as a result of this squabble over printing. Pathetic.

Parm, I think even “Anonymous” would agree that it is better and more interesting to argue about printing than about the same sex marriage (which is rightly legalised in all of the UK now).


Finally something we agree on tips…


Also, I think linking HIV AIDs to same sex marriage is pretty abhorrent.

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30 months away… you will be fine unless the firm goes bust.

And even then the law society will step in to save your backside like it did with other firms (KWM, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Halliwells)


Kirkland NQ

If the TC is withdrawn, just cut out the middle man dude and and join the ‘land. Most of you MC lot end up here anyway looking for the sweet greenbacks.


Former KWM future trainee

Well that is just not true. When KWM went bust the future trainees were left to fend for themselves and submit full applications very late in the recruitment cycle (we were only told a couple of days before Christmas that we “should explore other opportunties”). In my experience and that of other KWM future trainees, most law firms offered no assistance or dispensation (2Birds being the honorable exception) which infuriated a lot of us given the positive spin a lot of firm received for taking one or maybe two current trainees. “The legal world all pulling together” it was not.






We are likely to have a vaccine by August 2022 so your TC won’t be affected by that. However, there are serious fears that this whole epidemic and the measures taken to deal with it will spark an economic crisis. If that happens and your firm is impacted they may be unable to take as many trainees due to a lower training budget that could see your TC cancelled. These are all big ‘if’s’ however, and unlikely. Just proceed as planned and on the slim chance that the worst happens, don’t worry. If you were good enough to get a highly sought after Magic Circle TC, you’ll find a way to make it.


eric galbraith

…and save me from a life of ridiculously long and boring and tedious hours, days, weeks and years, and lead to me choosing another career that is actually enjoyable and worthwhile and makes a real contrition to society?



They don’t have depression and spend hours on Instagram looking at travel influencers for nothing.


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