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Law student told to stump up £300 a month for ‘paralegal mentorship’

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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!”

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“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.”

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22 Comments

Shirley

Name these grifters.

(42)(0)

FlourPour

Dewy Cheatham and Howe LLP

(9)(0)

Olgoi

Fudgit, Runn & Quicke LLP

(9)(1)

York University Final Year Law

Tbf I’d pay to go to K&E for a year if it meant I’d get to work there !

(4)(31)

Anon

Username checks out

(41)(1)

anon

Mate you should be willing to pay high street firms if you’re coming from the University of York

(76)(23)

OU Grad!

What an arrogant stupid response!! It is this precise elitist attitude that makes law students even consider scams like this!! Shame on you!

(17)(39)

K&E Phatman

Good luck with bagging a TC son.

(13)(5)

Jim

How dim you will be by definition if you go to York…..

(43)(10)

Anonymous

I am in the exact same position! Received the invoice and everything but never went ahead with it. Every recruiter says you can’t get w paralegal position without 1-2 years experience but how do law graduates get their foot in the door?!

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Anywhere that is asking you to pay or to do an unpaid probationary period is not worth your time. I found public sector paralegal/admin roles were less picky about prior experience.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

Hi there. I am an accountancy student. Unfortunately, such firms are pervasive in my sector too, specially in London.

The million dollar question still remains, however…who’s going to give entry-level candidates like myself a chance? Even basic internships now require prior work experience, so what exactly is the solution? How’s a uni or college student supposed to get their foot in the door?.

Even in this article, I appreciate the fact that Katrina was warned by lawyers to ”steer clear”, but I wish the article ended by saying that an ethical lawyer gave Katrina a paid opportunity, instead of merely saying something along the lines of:”Don’t go there!”. But reality is perhaps a very different story. I hope she finds an opportunity very soon.

And this is exactly what such unscrupulous firms are exploiting. Everyone’s up and ready to talk theory and abstract, but when it comes to giving a new-entrant a chance in the real world, nobody is found anywhere in most cases. The author has articulated the problem very well, and I agree with this article, but unless we come up with viable and realistic alternatives regarding work experience for entry-level candidates, specially in an unprecedentedly competitive post-covid job market amid an ongoing recession, such unprincipled businesses will keep on making a fortune.

(28)(0)

Serial job applicant

If you can’t get a position in a firm due to lack of experience, think outside the box.

I can only speak for myself, but when I left law school, I couldn’t get a job in a law firm because I “lacked experience”.

Instead, I sent my CV to charities, regulators, ombudsman, family offices, companies in a similar industry etc.

I ended up getting my first role in a charity and got paid 18k in London. The next job, I worked for as a case worker and I stayed for 2 years. The transferable skills I gained landed me a job as a paralegal, and then a TC.

And now here I am (and only slightly in my overdraft)

Yes, it was a uphill struggle but it is doable!

Keep going! Keep applying.

(11)(1)

Mouthbreather

Question for law students – when I see these future trainees on LinkedIn offering guides / resources if you comment or like the post – is there a catch like this such as payment? Or is it genuinely good faith help, or someone simply looking for some gen z internet clout?

(8)(0)

Nosebreather

I think some of them may ask for money for coaching, webinars or whatever, but a lot of them probably don’t. I would be a bit wary of them, though, even if they don’t ask for money. I think a lot of them are in it out of a desire to somehow boost their own profile, or make them look good.

I looked at one of the documents one of them was touting once, and it really looked quite poor quality. It was very long, but really didn’t seem to have that much useful stuff in it. I’ve also seen some of these self-proclaimed experts post example answers that just seemed cringe-inducing to me.

Just because someone has a training contract, it really doesn’t mean they know how to get a training contract.

Better sources must be out there. The most useful thing I did was to go to a talk at my university on how to make a strong application. If you’re at uni, see if your law society hosts any events like this. If you’re out of uni, then there will be talks like this available through Legal Cheek, I think.

(33)(0)

tolchok

Agreed, avoid the LinkedIn clout-chasing gimps like the plague. They’re only interested in feathering their profile on the backs of poor simps like you.

(33)(1)

Anonymous

Unfair! I’m in it for the sponsored content and corporate £££££!

(1)(0)

Meh

Ljmu once gave us a lecture about “securing a training contract” done by a girl who had failed her first year 7 times!!

(4)(0)

Bob Dole

I was sent a model application form from a LinkedIn future trainee who has A lot of experience in the far East (you may be able to guess who).

No charge, no hassle, quickly sent and was a genuine attempt to hell others. A very strong application and tips on how to tailor applications and do research on firms.

Genuinely impressed.

(6)(1)

Just Anonymous

As a general rule, Linkedin attention-seekers are not worth any attention whatsoever.

If they were, they wouldn’t have to so desperately seek it.

(6)(0)

Anon

I’ve seen a shocking amount of law roles trying to exploit recent graduates and law students who are trying to find work in such a tough time. Here’s one example of a ‘job’ advertisement I’ve just found. It is so disappointing. https://www.indeed.co.uk/m/viewjob?jk=693e9c13b9d156d6&from=serp&prevUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.indeed.co.uk%2Fm%2Fjobs%3Fq%3Dlpc%2Bgraduate%26l%3DManchester%26ts%3D1605345200879%26pts%3D1602350722925%26rq%3D1%26rsIdx%3D0

(2)(0)

Lord High Priest of the Privy Arbital Court, Order of the Pant

Roll up! Roll up!

I, the Mozart of the Courtroom so now bequeath unto the world the opportunity of one fine internship with my good self.

The price? Four pies and three-and-sixpence weekly.

The value? Priceless!

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.