News

Legal Union steps in after trainee solicitor isn’t offered NQ role

By on
19

Rookie claims law firm continued to recruit despite telling her it couldn’t offer her position due to ‘hiring freeze’

A trainee solicitor whose firm wasn’t going to keep her on has spoken of how she managed to bag the role anyway — by getting her trade union involved.

The trainee, who we can’t name, says the firm claimed to be implementing a “hiring freeze” but continued to recruit other solicitors, including in her own department.

But after calling on the services of Legal Sector Workers United (LSWU), bosses apparently U-turned and kept her on as a newly qualified (NQ) solicitor.

Would-be solicitors in England and Wales typically spend two years on a training contract as the final step towards qualification, with most expecting to be kept on post-qualification. But there’s no obligation, and some NQs find themselves out on their ear after the two years.

The trainee supported by LSWU told Legal Cheek that she suspected her previous union activism was the reason she wasn’t going to be retained, despite “excellent and recognised performance over three years at the firm”.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

“I was told that there was a ‘hiring freeze’ preventing me being offered a role. Despite this alleged freeze, the firm has continued to hire solicitors, including in my own department”, she told us. “To me, it is clear that the real reason is the fact that I have been a workplace representative for the Legal Sector Workers union since May 2020, and the firm will do anything to prevent us organising.”

But LSWU caseworkers helped to “draft some frankly badass grievance grounds and grounds of appeal”. One grievance hearing later, “the firm has now U-turned and offered me a role as a solicitor.”

LSWU says it’s increasingly common for unions to be involved in these kinds of disputes.

The outfit has “other active cases involving trainees”, handled by a growing casework team including both paid and volunteer representatives.

LSWU was launched a couple of years ago as a branch of United Voices of the World, itself only founded in 2014.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

19 Comments

Anonymous

Terrifying. Imagine having to take on a trainee against the firm’s wishes.

(39)(22)

HiHowAreYou

I think you may have missed your employment law lectures but an employer cannot be forced to hire anyone. She probably was just asking for financial compensation due to discrimination/wrongful dismissal and they offered the role unilaterally.

(37)(5)

what?

What wrongful dismissal compensation? She was not dismissed, her TC just ended. Maybe you’re the one who missed the employment law lectures…

Also, the firm although technically does not ‘have to’ take her, reasonably they do have to take her otherwise this could spiral into a bigger issue and severely harm the reputation of firm.

So in agreement with Anonymous, I too think it must be awful to work in an environment where you know you are not wanted and that you effectively shoehorned yourself into it.

(15)(14)

Anon

The courts have confirmed that the end of a fixed contract is, in law, a dismissal. If you’re going to be condescending at least try to be right.

(24)(0)

what?

The courts have not confirmed that. The law says that not renewing a fixed term contract after 2 years it is treated as a dismissal. In this case what exactly do you want to renew? The TC?

For the record, I am not condescending I just read and apply the law correctly.

No u

The expiry of a fixed-term contract will count as a dismissal, for the purposes of a claim for redundancy pay or for unfair dismissal (sections 95 and 136, ERA 1996

(7)(0)

Oh no you got me!

I don’t understand how can you state the law and still apply it incorrectly. Literally read the sections you just posted.

s.95(1)(b)/s.136(1)(b) it counts as dismissal in cases of fixed term contracts if ‘that contract terminates by virtue of the limiting event WITHOUT BEING RENEWED UNDER THE SAME CONTRACT’

Seriously at this point either your ego is too big or you plainly dumb.

What’s even more worrying is the amount of upvotes your comments get because you write them as if ‘you got me’! No wonder LC is filled with never-be lawyers…

Trainee - 1, Bosses - wenk

Terrifying. Imagine being victimised because of your
union membership.

(17)(4)

Observer

I’m sure she’ll have an excellent career there. Threatening legal action is a great way to endear oneself to an employer.

(73)(14)

NQ

What’s the point? She’d be hated by management and would have no prospect of making partner. She should have recognised that they were making an excuse and moved on.

(28)(23)

Bob

It is much easier to move on as a qualified lawyer with a role than as a just qualified trainee without one.

(105)(1)

Beepboop

Surely when applying other roles it looks better to currently have a job/have been wanted by the firm that trained you.

(40)(2)

Joseph

There are many trainees who at the end of their 2 years feel like the firm is not for them but they have not been able to find an NQ position elsewhere.

In those circumstances, it is always best to stay on with the fim you trained at to build up your PQE. The more years you have of PQE the more likely you are to be able to move to another firm once an opportunity comes up.

(23)(0)

Dusty old codger, feat. Gen Z lingo

The sense of entitlement running down hard and thicc with this one. Outrageous really.

(5)(35)

Alex

Yes, she is entitled not to suffer a detriment for taking part in trade union activities.

(33)(1)

Paul

It is nice to see people exercising their rights and refusing to be trod on.

(17)(0)

Jane

I wasn’t kept on but everyone knows that is the deal – you might be or you might not. I think they might have found it better and cheaper to pay out on her claim

Are trainees employees these days (didn’t used to be)? If so, the new QWE which can be at several firms might be a better bet for some employers as the “trainee” will not have built up 2 years at one firm so won’t have unfair dismissal rights so easy to get rid of the ones who are not very good after they finish their QWE.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

How much are you loving working from home?

No d1ckhead partners treating you like sh1t, no presentism.

It’s great, must be amazing for those with kids.

A proper Labour Party would give white collar workers a right to “work from home” without any say so from their employer.

(7)(0)

Anon

She’ll probably spend most of her working career on the Labour back benches in opposition.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories