Exclusive: Lawyers warn Open Uni undergrad Katrina White to steer clear
A law student looking to secure some valuable CV-boosting legal experience during lockdown says she was offered a ‘mentorship’ role which would see her pay nearly £300 a month to work as a paralegal.
Katrina White, a second year law student at The Open University, tells Legal Cheek that she was contacted by an agency earlier this week after firing off a number of applications for paid legal work.
White was told of an opening at a “reputable firm” and that, in the spirit of home-working, it would send her “tasks to complete whenever she wanted”. But there was a catch: the law student would have to cough up £295 a month to secure what was described as a “paralegal mentorship”.
While it’s not clear who would receive the hefty monthly fee under the arrangement, White was told it would be money well spent as it would be great for her CV and could lead to a paid position at a law firm. As part of the arrangement, White says the agency would also circulate her CV among its “partner firms”.
“I tried not to sound shocked as I didn’t know if this was the norm,” White told Legal Cheek. “[I] really didn’t want to look like I couldn’t afford it!”
“I am a single parent with three children, so ultimately I felt like maybe I am never going to fulfil my dream of working in law, because I simply cannot afford to pay for experience,” she added.
A number of lawyers have since warned White to steer clear of such offers after she shared her experience on LinkedIn.
“What on earth is a paralegal mentorship?!”, wrote 39 Essex Chambers barrister Ian Brownhill. “Utterly bonkers. Don’t get anywhere near it”. 10 King’s Bench Walk barrister Ahmad Badar branded the offer “absolutely disgusting”, while Ashfords solicitor Annie Joseph advised White to “avoid at all costs!”. Elsewhere, Ranjit Bains, a tutor at The University of Law, wrote: “This is outrageous. You should never need to pay for a mentor.”