How would-be solicitors are selling themselves

Law students are facing up to a crowded job market, says Rachel Halliburton

At a time when the legal job market is not only tight but characterised by more uncertainty than ever before, it pays to display. That is the conclusion of law students at Westminster University, an institution recently highly commended by the Law Society.

LPC Links with Legal London, essentially an open day to be held on 14 June, is the students' response to the difficulties facing those looking for the two-year training contracts necessary to start as a solicitor. Out of 5,500 who qualified nationwide last year on the Legal Practice Course, 1,700 had the doors of solicitors' firms closed politely in their faces.

Although this year the number of training contracts offered will increase from 3,800 to 4,200, the number of LPC graduates will also have risen. A significant percentage will still be left out in the cold.

Not the least of the University of Westminster's problems is its status as a relative newcomer in a world where tradition holds an important place. The Legal Practice Course began in 1993; many universities and former polytechnics which had not featured its predecessor, the Law Society Finals, were allowed to offer it. In a survey last year commissioned by the Law Society, and conducted by the Independent Policy Studies Institute, it was revealed that the chances of getting a professional traineeship were closely related to the prestige of the institution at which the student was studying. This, in addition to the extra graduates that the newer institutions are producing, makes an already competitive market-place almost impenetrable.

For any law student emerging from the LPC, the prospect of being unable to get a job is scant reward for the rigours of a course which can be both personally and financially draining. Across the country, fees can cause bank balances to dip by anything from pounds 4,550 to pounds 5,200. And the cost of living, whether it be a baked-bean and garret existence, or a year shackled to parents, significantly adds to debts referred to by the Law Society as "disturbing".

Weighed down by yawning bank balances on one side, the LPC student is pinned down on the other by the sheer size of the workload. The LPC is a more vocational course than its academic forerunner, and students must pass several assessments, both written and spoken, in order to qualify. These assessments, though not centrally marked in the way that Law Society Finals were, form part of a course that at every institution has been submitted to and approved by the Law Society.

With the almost weekly pressure of being examined added to the large workload, the majority of students find that there is little time for any other kind of life - though this is, as Phil Jones, Director of Legal Practice at the University of Sheffield, points out,appropriate training for what will greet them in their professional existence.

Although a wide range of firms offer training contracts, it is unfortunately only the wealthy and prominent ones that can employ more than a small fraction of the LPC output. Solicitors such as Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy still engage in the previously more commonplace practice of selecting trainee solicitors before they begin their LPC, and sponsoring them through the year. Many of these firms, when questioned about why they took on students, expressed the desirability of moulding new recruits to their own practices. And as Martin Pexton, a director at Allen & Overy, pointed out, without such recruits, how can the future of the legal profession be ensured?

This is an obvious but important point; for less affluent firms, however, to follow Allen & Overy's example is too much of a luxury. Since the Law Society set a minimum wage for those on training contracts - pounds 12,150 for London, pounds 10,850 for outside - many solicitors have found that it is cheaper and more efficient to employ "paralegals" for many of the tasks that articled clerks used to perform.

Some firms which offered training contracts until a couple of years ago said that it was not always practical to invest in new intake. Although academically sound, Law Society Finals graduates would often take time to adapt to the office environment, frequently not reaching fee-earning potential until some time into their training.

LPC Links with Legal London marks itself out by targeting these firms, as well as firms which do offer training contracts. Solicitors who take up the invitation to their open day will be greeted by demonstrations of the many ways in which the LPC prepares students to adapt to office environments more quickly than their LSF forerunners.

Their economic viability is the key message: as Paul Aber, the senior law tutor backing the project, says, "We want to show firms that LPC graduates hit the ground running."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Financial Accountant-IFRS-Gloucester-£300/day

    £250 - £295 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountant - IFRS - Glouc...

    SharePoint/C# Developer - Aberdeen - Circa £40K + benefits

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited:...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil