News

Paralegal told she was a trainee solicitor secures compensation from former firm

By on
14

Nicolette Browne-Marke, 26, represented herself at the employment tribunal

A paralegal told that she was a trainee solicitor has successfully sued her former employer at the employment tribunal.

Nicolette Browne-Marke, 26, was awarded £14,000 after being unfairly dismissed by NR Solicitors in east London.

The firm also admitted underpaying the would-be lawyer, leaving her unable to afford the bus to work or pay her internet bill.

Browne-Marke started working at the high street outfit in January 2019. Her job offer letter said that she would be given a training contract after a trial period of three months, and Browne-Marke understood that she had indeed become a trainee as promised. She only discovered that the firm hadn’t registered her as a trainee after she left the firm, in March 2020.

The firm disputed this, but Employment Judge McLaren found “the claimant was told that she was a trainee solicitor”.

Browne-Marke put up with a lot in her bid to become a solicitor through the firm. Her salary payments were “intermittent and erratic”, sometimes partly in cash and partly into her bank account.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Evidence before the tribunal included texts from Browne-Marke to her boss “pointing out that she did not have enough funds for example to pay her bus fare, to pay her train fare to get to court or general travel money”.

The judge also found that she had been unable to work from home when the pandemic hit in March 2020 “because she couldn’t pay her Wi-Fi bill”.

Browne-Marke was sacked not long after and found out that she hadn’t been on a training contract after all.

Representing herself at the employment tribunal, she convinced the judge that the reason or principal reason for her being fired was that she had complained about unpaid wages. That, the judge found, was “automatically unfair dismissal”.

The solicitor hopeful was unable to find another legal or any other job during the pandemic, and now works as a volunteer food delivery driver. She was awarded £14,251.00 for loss of earnings and wrongful dismissal, plus an agreed-on £1,752.76 in back pay.

The gross amount of compensation was originally close to £19,000, but a statutory compensation cap and benefits clawback from the DWP could leave her with as little as £4,600.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

14 Comments

Future Trainee Solicitor at Kirkland & Ellis/Legal Influencer

Anyone else going to be joining Kirkland this September?!?

Let me know if so! Going to be so much fun!

(40)(106)

Pffttt

And you exactly are you ‘influencing’ may I ask?

Freshers these days 🤦‍♂️

(22)(6)

Current TC Offer Holder and Previous Virtual Vac Schemer at K&E

Woooo yes I will be joining ya. Just need to upload a few more clickbait videos in the meantime about life as a trainee without even stepping foot in a law firm yet

(29)(5)

Incoming K&E Open Day Offer Holder and Previous K&E-Booth-at-Exeter-Law-Fair Visitor

Hi guys,

It would be GREAT to connect with you on Linkedin! Kirkland & Ellis is my DREAM FIRM. The grad rec team said that they look forward to reading my application so I’ve already got one foot inside the door!

(70)(1)

Bantonio Banteras

Good quality bantz this, 7/10.

(30)(0)

Anon

You are dull and boring. Hijacking every thread with your one trick pony dross is just bad manners.

(11)(11)

Kirkland NQ

Not as bad manners as turning up outside your dingy flat share in Whitechapel in the middle of the night and waking you up by loudly revving my Lambo. Enjoy your instant coffees in the morning at your high street firm conveyancer job, loser.

(22)(26)

AbolishTheSRA

One would hope that the SRA will investigate this firm. Just kidding, we all know they’re too busy ending careers for small mistakes. The SRA is a joke and should be abolished.

(110)(0)

Wibble Merchant

Fair play to Ms Browne-Marke, I hope she gets taken on by another firm. What a shoddy employer!

(72)(0)

Asker of serious questions

Serious question:

Is £65k a good NQ salary in the City?

(4)(12)

Not even a Kirkland NQ

No – that’s trash. I assume you’re talking about Shoosmiths or WBD. Firms like that aren’t even a place where careers go to die. They’re below that. Stay away unless your ambitions are nil or you have a 2:2.

(7)(32)

Asker of serious questions

What if we’re talking about more niche firms like Farrers/Forsters though?

(6)(2)

Anon

No, I would say that is certainly towards the lower end.

(8)(3)

Just no

no

(0)(2)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories