LJLD Blog

‘Welcome to the 2017 Blog’ Kathryn

A belated welcome to the LJLD blog for 2017, a place where you will see updates and reminders about our numerous events throughout the year, as well as the thoughts of our committee members about life as a junior lawyer and the profession in general.

A farewell to 2016

We had many successes in 2016 and ended it on a high note with our Bollywood Ball! It was fantastic to see so many of you there and in such wonderful outfits.

However, with this being the first blog entry of a new committee year, I have some goodbyes to say. I would like to say goodbye and a huge thank you to those committee members that left us this year; Gail, Michaela, Luiza, Sarah and Jo, you will all be missed and we hope to see you at our events this year.  We would not have achieved everything that we did in 2016 without the hard work, time and effort expended by the committee.

A special mention to Sanjit Atkar, who stepped down as President earlier in the year to take a new position in Birmingham. The committee would like to wish you all the best in your new role.

I would also like to thank all those who sponsored us throughout 2016; all sponsorship is greatly appreciated and helped us hugely in putting on the many successful events last year.

A brand new committee

A new year also welcomes new members to our committee and we are pleased to welcome six new members to our committee this year; Nathan Allaway, Neelam Yusaf, Joanna Chung, Viral Dagly, Myles Bennett, Charlotte Stevens, and Nisha Gorania. You can read more about our committee and their legal backgrounds on our committee page here.

Also, keep an eye out on our blog where our committee members will be posting regularly to allow you to find out more about them and their work.

A successful 2017 so far

Hopefully some of you reading this will have already attended one of our events this year.

Our first event was a welcome drinks evening at the Exchange Bar in January 2017, which was hosted by Robert Walters. We had a great attendance and hope the evening was enjoyed by all.

We have also held a NQ Careers Talk “Holding all the Cards” with Bygott Biggs at Apres Lounge. This was aimed at newly qualified solicitors discussing the latest opportunities as well as CV tips and interview techniques. Keep an eye out for other similar events later on in the year.

Future events

The next event will be one of our biggest of the year, our Annual Charity Quiz.  This is being held at Chutney Ivy on 25 May 2017, with tickets costing £12 each.  Full details, including booking information, are available on our website and social media pages.  This year, all profits from the event will be going to Browndog.  Browndog is an amazing Leicestershire based charity which raises money to purchase vital equipment and infrastructure to improve the detection and treatment of cancer and patient care.  Browndog are proud to to confirm that every single pound they have raised since 2000 has been invested in this equipment as they have no overheads. We hope to see many of you there and hope that you will be generous in purchasing raffle tickets to support the charity and win some great prizes. If you are unable to attend and are interested in purchasing raffle tickets, please get in touch with us.

Details of our remaining events for the year will follow shortly, but please do let me or the committee know if there are any events you would particularly like us to put on and we will take this into consideration.

How to keep up to date

In general, however, don’t forget to check our website, Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with what we are doing and any events that we have planned. You can also keep up to date by joining our mailing list by emailing membership@ljld.co.uk, which will allow us to send event information straight to your inbox!

I look forward to seeing you at one of our events soon!

Kathryn

LJLD President 2017

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Posted 18th April by Michaela, Social Media and Website Officer

‘Interview with Denise Wright at Weightmans’

This month we have a guest interview on our blog from Denise at Weightmans.  We asked Denise about trainee recruitment, please see the below:

 

Weightmans

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Posted 4th April 2016- by Gail, President
‘Welcome to the 2016 Blog’
prof pic

A belated welcome to the LJLD blog for 2016, a place where you will see updates and reminders about our numerous events throughout the year, as well as the thoughts of our Committee members about life as a junior lawyer and the profession in general.

A farewell to 2015

We had many successes in 2015 and ended it on a high note with our Great Gatsby Ball!  It was fantastic to see so many of you there and in such wonderful outfits.

However, with this being my first blog entry of a new Committee year, I have some goodbyes to say. I would like to say goodbye and a huge thank you to those committee members that left us this year: Fiona, Delcinea, Andrew, you will all be missed and we hope to see you our events this year.  We would not have achieved everything that we did in 2015 without the hard work, time and effort expended by the Committee. I would also like to thank all those who sponsored us throughout 2015; all sponsorship is greatly appreciated and helped us massively in putting on the many successful events last year.

A brand new committee

A new year also welcomes new members to our committee and we are pleased to welcome six new members to our committee this year:  Luiza, Stacey, Vicki, Raman, Terri-Sian and Shaziya. You can read more about our committee and their legal backgrounds on our committee page here.

Also, keep an eye out on our blog where our new committee members will be posting regularly to allow you to find out more about them and their work.

A successful 2016 so far

Hopefully some of you reading this blog will have already attended one of our events this year.

Our first event was a “welcome” drinks evening at the Exchange Bar in January 2016, which was hosted by SaccoMann.  We had a great attendance at this event, which was enjoyed by all and it was good to introduce a new sponsor to our members.  We look forward to working with SaccoMann going forward.  We should have some photos of that event on this website very shortly, but please let us know if you took any photographs of the event that you would be willing to share with us.

We have also held talks from Bygott Biggs and Blusource aimed at helping trainees secure positions as Newly Qualified solicitors over the summer and attendees at both events found the talks very helpful.

Future events

We are hosting a cocktail night at 33 Cank Street this week, kindly sponsored by Bygott Biggs.  This promises to be a great night and if you have not already, please contact Vicki Teece to book.

The next event will be one of our biggest of the year, our Annual Charity Quiz.  This is being held at Chutney Ivy on 26 May 2016, with tickets costing £12 each.  Full details, including booking information, will follow shortly.  This year, all profits from the event will be going to Wishes4Kinds.  It is a wonderful local charity that grants wishes for children and young people in Leicestershire who are life limited, terminally ill, have experienced life-changing physical or emotional traumas, have suffered major abuse or are diagnosed as HIV Positive.  We hope to see many of you there and hope that you will be generous in purchasing raffle tickets to support the charity and win some great prizes.

We are also planning a Summer Drinks Party/BBQ at Hotel Maiyango on 1 July 2016, so save the date and more details will follow soon.

Details of our remaining events for the year will follow shortly, but please do let me or the Committee know if there are any events you would particularly like us to put on and we will take this into consideration.

How to keep up to date

In general, however, don’t forget to check our website, Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with what we are doing and any events that we have planned. You can also keep up to date by joining our mailing list by emailing membership@ljld.co.uk, which will allow us to send event information straight to your inbox!

I look forward to seeing you at one of our events soon!

Gail

LJLD President 2016

 

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4th March 2016- Posted by Michaela Blackett, Social Media and Website Representative 

’2016: The Year of Qualification’- Guest Blog from Blusource Legal12592459_10153926588808832_8568406961060784469_n

Now we’re over the January hump and fast approaching the end of February, your thoughts may naturally be turning to qualification. After two years of hard work, sweat and hopefully not too many tears, you’re quickly edging closer to your qualification date. With this, there’s of course a lot for you to consider – which area of law should you qualify into? Will you be offered a role with your training firm? What else is available to you in the market?

So how can Blusource help?

 At Blusource, we’ve worked with many trainees in the past to secure them an NQ position and we’re able to offer you our advice and knowledge of the legal market. This includes which areas of law are most buoyant, when you should start to apply for roles, and what you can expect salary-wise within your chosen field/ location.

We’ve teamed up with the Leicestershire JLD to hold a talk about these issues on the 7March. During this, we’ll give you a rundown on what to expect from the NQ market as well as offering a CV Clinic and a confidential Q & A session – allowing us to address any of your unanswered questions. In addition, we’ll offer some interview tips and advice on how to build rapport with a potential new employer.

If you missed this event and would like copies of the powerpoints, please email president@ljld.co.uk!

Sophia

Blusource Legal

                                                                                                                                                         

Posted 14th October 2015- by Michaela, Social Media and Website

‘Get to know LJLD Student Officer, Delcinea!’               

Hi Delcinea, Can you give a brief summary of your legal career?

After initially starting my LLB Degree I quickly found out that there was a huge array of competition for jobs in the legal sector regardless of whether you had a degree or not. I started quickly applying for work experience. I started off with experience at Citizen’s Advice Bureau in which I gave legal advice to members of the public. It was very rewarding knowing I was helping individuals who may not have been able to afford legal help.

In addition, I acquired a role as a Court Usher for the Coroners Court. This was very exciting giving me an in depth experience into the legal world from a first hand perspective. I found standing in a court, using legal jargon and speaking very exciting. The cases were interesting as was the ability to network with individual from both the medical and legal profession.

My most recent position is as a legal intern at the North West District council. This gave me an ample opportunity to understand to role of solicitors and how they proceed with their work on a daily basis. I was involved in Debt recovery. I found it great, I was able to use and develop my skills I learnt on the LPC and see how the legal skills we learn through university are adapted in real life situation.

What made you decide on a career in law?

Ever since I was a child I was always focused on the difference between right and wrong and how society functions in an ever-changing political field. What was interesting was whilst political ideology changed there was always a challenge to the extent of how the law would catch up with the change. This developed my curiosity of how society functioned. When law was introduced in school I was always curious as to what brought about its development and the reasons behind it rather than just accepting it. I continuously challenged issues that fascinated me.  It was this fascination that fostered my interest in historical figures such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and how they challenged the ‘LAW’ to make a difference in society. Whilst these were big steps I believe focusing on law comes from smaller efforts. Corporations and individuals all follow the law and it is this fundamental fact that shapes our society. I felt law was the best subject in which I could not only make a difference to society but also to the lives of individuals.

How are you finding being on the LPC?

The LPC is great and very pratical. It allows me to put my theoretical knowledge learnt on my LLB into practical use. As an aspiring solicitor, the LPC to me is exciting as the activities I engage in over my course are those which I will continue to carry out and develop throughout my career. It is the training part to the rest of my career. Just as a soldier is taught how to fire a weapon before he engages in war, a Solicitor is taught the skills required in the LPC before being allowed to practice.

What advice would you give to someone about to embark on the LPC themselves?

My advice would be to find work experience that allows you to develop practical skills before you start the LPC, as it will help a lot. Be prepared for a high workload but keep that motivation that got you to LPC in the first place. Do not give up hope and continuously work hard, read over notes and my greatest advice is the importance of revision, practice and preparation.

What is the most challenging part about being a legal intern?

The most challenging part is going into an environment that is unfamiliar and networking with individuals who have a wide array of qualifications and experience. However in all the excitement of starting a new position as an intern we forget that we are there to learn and that our colleagues are there to help. Therefore there is nothing too challenging if we are ourselves, we follow what we have been taught and we develop our skills through individuals who have experience.

If you could have done something differently during your studies, what would it have been and why?

I regret not taking a year out to commit to an internship or to maybe study a year abroad. I believe that in the current climate of globalization it is essential that we widen our experience not to our degree but to the commercial world as well. A year working as an intern would have enhanced my CV as would a year abroad study. But all is not lost as work experience can still be found whilst studying for a degree. Also my advice for prospective students is as soon as you start your first year study hard and work diligently and hard. Many students say the first year does not count but the first year does prepare you to develop your research and writing skills for the second and third year that does count.

What is the best thing about being on the LJLD committee?

The best thing is raising awareness to other students about the legal world, its continuous changes and being part of an organization so closely linked to the legal field that it promotes development for students and myself in a challenging environment.  The LJLD allows us to meet people who are very helpful and have been in the position I am in now.

If you didn’t want a career in law, what would you be doing instead?

If I was not working in Law, I would want a career which was rewarding and made a difference to the lives of others and I could go come home satisfied at the end of the day that I had made a difference. I would want a career that was exciting and challenged me intellectually – maybe a teacher working abroad.

Thank you Delcinea!

Did you enjoy this blog post? Come back soon where we will have another committee member in the spotlight!

Don’t forget, you can keep up to date with all the latest LJLD news by following us on twitter and facebook!

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Posted 29th June 2015- by Michaela, Social Media and Website 

Should I embark on the LPC without having a training contract?  

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Upon making the massive decision that you wish to pursue a career as a Solicitor, you are faced with several more important career decisions, one of the most difficult being if you should embark on the Legal Practice Course without having secured a training contract. I was once told that “training contracts are like gold dust” and that statement couldn’t be more correct when you consider the figures. The Law Society Gazette states that there are roughly 17,500 law students and only 5,000 training contract places a year. With a large number of people taking on the challenge of studying law every year and in comparison only a few training contract places up for grabs, the competition for a training contract is extremely high and extremely fierce.

You’ve completed your degree, or are near to completing it and the next step to qualification is the LPC but you haven’t got a training contract, so is the LPC a waste of time and money?

The recruitment process for the majority of firms starts considerably early, with most firms closing applications over two years in advance of the contract starting date and meaning that most applications for training contracts should be completed within the second year of your law degree. There are of course those firms that will only recruit a year or even a few months in advance so all hope is not lost to start your training contract after your LPC if you haven’t already secured one before you start. It is also arguable that having completed your LPC would make you more employable to a firm.

Of course, one of the largest factors that plays a part in this important decision is the LPC costs. With the majority of LPC’s totalling over the region of £10,000.00, it certainly is a tremendous investment or tremendous waste should nothing develop from it.

These dilemmas have found me asking what can I really do with the LPC if I haven’t or if I don’t secure a training contract? But, I was pleased to discover that there are options! Programmes like CILEX offer alternative routes to qualification meaning that now you do not need a training contract to qualify as a solicitor.

A blog post will be coming on our blog soon from Kathryn talking more about CILEX and alternative routes to qualification in more depth, so if you’re interested in finding out more about this, make sure you keep your eyes peeled on our website. We will also post links to all of our blog posts on our Twitter and our Facebook page so make sure that you’re following us to get the latest updates.

Michaela Blackett

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Posted 15th April 2015- by Michaela, Social Media and Website

‘Get to know LJLD Vice President, Gail!’                                                      prof pic

Hi Gail, can you give us a summary of your legal career?

I studied for my law degree part-time at DMU in Leicester then did the LPC at the Leicester Institute of Legal Practice.  I am now a solicitor in the dispute resolution department at Gateley LLP and qualified in September 2013.  I trained with Gateley, having been fortunate enough to secure a training contract leading into my final year at Uni. During my training contract I did seats in Property, Corporate, Employment and litigation and I knew from the very start that litigation was what I wanted to do.  Anyone who knows me well knows that this is a good fit!

What made you decide on a career in law?

I worked as a secretary in a few law firms and I was fortunate enough that the partners I worked for encouraged me to study.  I wanted to know more about why they did what they did rather than just type letters and documents and so it started from there.

What have been the highlights of your career so  far?

Attending a trial in the Royal Courts of Justice as a trainee, which was just amazing. The benches in Court there are not as comfortable as the chairs in modern courts but it was just a fantastic setting and really cemented for me that this was what I wanted to do. Since then, I have been involved in obtaining a number of injunctions and I have recently won my first trial since qualification. I love the pressure that you have to work under when dealing with an injunction and the end result is inevitably satisfying.

Congratulations on your first win! What made you decide to work in litigation? 

I  knew from the start that transactional work was not for me and I just did not click with the work I did in property or corporate.  I love the pressure that I have to work under in litigation to meet court deadlines and dealing with cases strategically.  No two days are the same as no two cases we deal with are the same and although the CPR provides a skeleton, we then have to flesh that out.

What is the best part about working in litigation?

The satisfaction when you get a good result for a client.

What do you find most challenging about working in litigation? 

Juggling the deadlines can sometimes be difficult. For example, disclosure can be quite an onerous task and as a junior member of the team it will often fall to me to undertake it.  It can be a little tedious at times and it can be difficult to get it done in the timescale, particularly if the client tells you there will be one box of files to review and they turn up with five!

What advice would you give to someone interested in working in litigation? 

Make sure you have good time management skills and an ability to prioritise you work. You also need to keep a good diary with all of your deadlines!

What is the best thing about being on the LJLD Committee? 

I get to know other junior lawyers very well and have made some very good friends as a result.  I am not from Leicester originally (if you have met me this will be obvious!) and I found this a really good way to get to know people in the local area. I also think it is really important as I hear colleagues views on what is going on in the legal market and as we are all from different backgrounds and firms it helps to give a different perspective.

What would you be doing if you did not do law? I’d be a policewoman ideally doing traffic enforcement.

Thank you Gail!

Did you enjoy this blog post? Come back next month where we will have our Student Officer in the spotlight!

Don’t forget, you can keep up to date with all the latest LJLD news by following us on twitter and facebook!

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Posted 14th April 2015- by Andrew, President 

‘Welcome to the 2015 Blog’Andrew Tomlinson

Welcome to the LJLD blog for 2015, a place where you will see updates and reminders about our numerous events throughout the year, as well as the thoughts of our Committee members about life as a junior lawyer and the profession in general.

I have the honour of having the first blog entry of the year – and you’ll see there’s quite a bit to get through!

A farewell to 2014

We had many successes in 2014 and ended it on a high note with our Masquerade Ball!

However, with this being the first blog entry of a new year, I have some goodbyes to say. I would like to say goodbye and a massive thank you to those committee members that are leaving us this year: Hannah, Tom, Jo, Mandy, Natasha, Aimee, and Nilesh, you will all be missed greatly and we hope to see you at as many LJLD events this year as possible. We wouldn’t have achieved what we did in 2014 without the hard work, time and effort expended by 2014 president Hannah and the committee. I would also like to thank all those who sponsored us throughout 2014; all sponsorship is greatly appreciated and helped us massively in putting on the many successful events last year.

A brand new committee

A new year also welcomes new members to our committee and we are pleased to welcome six new members to our committee this year: Joanna-Louise, Kathryn, Kate, Sarah, Delcinea and Charlotte. You can read more about our committee and their legal backgrounds on our committee page here.

Also, keep an eye out on our blog where we will have a committee member in the spot light every month for you to find out more about them and their work in specific departments.

A successful 2015 so far

Hopefully some of you reading this blog will have already attended one of our events this year.

Our first event was a “welcome” drinks evening at the Exchange Bar on 26 February 2015, which had record attendance as was standing room only. We should have some photos of that event on this website very shortly, but please let us know if you took any photographs of the event that you would be willing to share with us.

We have also held a couple of academic talks from recruitment companies Blusource Legal and Bygott Biggs, held at De Montfort University and the Exchange Bar respectively.  These talks were both aimed at the helping trainees secure positions as Newly Qualified solicitors and the attendees all found the talks extremely helpful.

Future events

Our next event, however, is one f the biggest of the year: our annual Charity Quiz. You should all hopefully have received the invite by now, so you should already know that this will be held on Thursday 23 April 2015 at the City Rooms, with tickets being £10 each.

This year, all profits will be going to the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People. This is a fantastic local charity that does great work supporting young people in Leicestershire and the wider East Midlands, so we hope that we will see lots of junior lawyers attending on the night – and we hope you’ll all feel particularly generous when buying raffle tickets!

For more information on this event, or to book your place, please contact Fiona Grocock, one of our Events Officers, on: FGrocock@gateleyuk.com

How to keep up to date

In general, however, don’t forget to check our website, Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with what we are doing and any events that we have planned. You can also keep up to date by joining our mailing list by emailing membership@ljld.co.uk, which will allow us to send event information straight to your inbox!

I and the committee look forward to seeing you all soon!

Andrew

LJLD President 2015

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Posted 23rd March 2015- by Michaela, Social Media and Website Officer 

‘Careers Talk with Blusource’ 

On Monday 9th March, LJLD held a careers orientated event in conjunction with Blusource at DMU.

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LJLD President Andrew introducing the evening. 

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Claire from Blusource discussing the current job market. 

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Sophia from Blusource discussing career options. 

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Members of the LJLD Committee serving pizza and drinks.

We hope everyone who attended found the event useful and we look forward to seeing you at our next event!

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Posted 2 July 2014 – by Tom, Events Officerpage_159-1

‘Students – Do you really want to be a Solicitor?’

Having been involved in my firm’s trainee interviews this year, I was fully exposed to exactly what prospective law firms look for when searching for the perfect candidate.

As we are all aware, a vital part of any candidate’s CV is their work experience. Whilst a broad range of work experience is preferable, legal work experience evidences a candidate’s desire to work within the legal sector, and also their ability to obtain experience in a difficult industry where accessibility can be a significant hindrance.

 

Over the recent months, I have worked closely with an Intern at my firm, Amanda Rogowska, and have taken the opportunity to pose a number of questions to her. These questions seek to provide clarification as to why work experience within the legal sector is crucial to enable you to decide on which path your career will take.

Amanda started working as an Intern in January 2014. She has just finished her LLB Law, Human Rights and Social Justice degree and is keen on becoming a solicitor. She will be starting her LPC at De Montfort University in September.

Why did you choose to work in the legal profession?

Since a very early age I was talkative and I was able to form strong arguments. I fact, I was often called a lawyer before I started my A Levels. At 16, having no idea what I wanted to do as a profession I chose four A levels: Maths, Economics, Law and English. In the second year it was clear to me that I wanted to go into law. What attracted me most to becoming a solicitor was the breadth of work. At university, I realised that the key to this career is work experience therefore I did my best to secure three placements during my time at university. The real-life experience made me confident that I was on the right track.

Did you always want to become a solicitor?

No. Ever since I remember I wanted to be an interior designer. I liked to be creative and practical, therefore my bedroom was purple, I chose all the furniture and its setting was changing on a weekly basis. This changed when I enrolled to do my A Levels as I started developing my knowledge of the legal profession. I still, however, like to give advice to friends and family on how they should set out their rooms to get the most light, space or fun.

How did you make your application for work experience stand out?

I applied for the position last year, but I only got to the interview stage. I was really stressed during that interview and I knew that it was my weakest point. Before applying this year, I worked on my CV and cover letter to really highlight my achievements and why I was the perfect fit for the firm. It is important to make your application targeted. I heard of people who create a standard covering letter, but I have never heard of anyone securing a training contract by sending such a ‘general’ letter. I focused on the firm, my work experience, academic achievements and personality to get to the interview stage. This time I was prepared to the best of my abilities. I practiced interview techniques with my lecturers and career advisors. This may seem like a lot of work, but it was worth it and the practice fully prepared me for the interview. In fact, I felt that it was easier than the practice rounds with career advisors.

What experience have you gained working as an Intern at Spearing Waite LLP?

I was recruited through the Frontrunner Office at De Montfort University. The Legal Assistant Frontrunner job specification was not very detailed. I knew I would be assisting solicitors in their work. I was expecting a lot of photocopying and coffee-making, but I was wrong. The 6 months went very quickly as I was also submerged in the last year of my degree. I worked alongside some amazing people. I did a lot of research, letters to Court, Interim Applications, Instructions to Counsel, inter-party correspondence and letters before claim. I was treated like a fellow junior solicitor and I absolutely loved it. I think that it is important to go for the unknown as I can clearly see the progress I have made.

What are you planning to do after you complete your placement?

I am looking forward to completing my LPC next year. In the meantime I will be hoping to secure a training contract. The work experience I have gained has fully confirmed my desire to enter the legal profession, and I am solely focused on achieving this aim. In the meantime, I have plenty of ideas of how to use my spare time, but I am mostly looking forward to travelling to Asia later on this summer.

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Posted 3 June 2014 – by Aimee, Law Society Representative 

‘Are Costs Lawyers the future generation of Junior Lawyers?’

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Following the approval of the Legal Services Board, the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has started accepting the first applicants for the new qualification. It is a three year course and the first cohort starts in September 2014 with the application deadline set for the 30th June 2014.

The course is aimed at both law graduates and school leavers who are looking for a career in the profession. The idea is that access to the qualification is very inclusive and students can become trainees from the age of just eighteen. You need four GCSE’s at a grade C or above including English and Maths to be accepted on to the course.

Sue Nash the Chairman of the ACL said: “Costs law and practice is a specialised and developing area of legal work and I believe the course will prove to be attractive to trainees and their employers, as well as those seeking an alternative route to entry to other legal professions”.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Although as always there is a catch, the course costs £1,400 plus VAT per year which totals £4,200 plus VAT and for those of you who are already enrolled on to the Legal Practice Course or Bar Vocational Course you will be hesitant to make another financial commitment given the masses of student debt you’ve acquired already. However, that being said, there is an exemption from parts of the course for those of you who have already completed one of the following; Law Degree, Legal Practice Course, Bar Vocational Course or CILEx Level 6 qualification. Click on the following link to see the criteria for exemption;

http://www.associationofcostslawyers.co.uk/pdfs/2013-2014_ACLTraining_ExemptionPolicy_V4.pdf

This is a serious option for some of you who 1) can’t afford to pay the extortionate costs of the LPC or BPTC or 2) for those who didn’t quite manage to get the grades. As you know, the legal profession is extremely competitive and law firms are either cutting back on recruitment or being extra vigilant when investing in their trainees. It is imperative that you demonstrate your commitment to the profession and I suggest you do this before you make secure a place on the LPC or BPTC as the fees are increasing as each year passes and this decision should not be taken lightly, with prices rising up to more than £11,000 at some LPC providers.  Ask yourself if you’re sure and then ask yourself again, are you sure you’re sure. I know it seems depressing but it’s realistic. Unfortunately there are too many Legal Practice graduates and even more Law Degree graduates and not enough training contracts.

With this new and alternative option available through ACL it is at least possible for those of you who have not been fortunate enough to gain a training contract the old fashioned way to qualify as a lawyer. It doesn’t mean you stop persevering to gain a training contract, it simply means that you have options; just ensure when weighing up your options that you think practically and realistically about what you want from a career in law and the alternative routes available to you.

 

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Posted 3 March 2014 – by Jo, Treasurer

‘New Routes into the Legal Profession – the Higher Apprenticeship Scheme’  

The Apprentice 2400_52796754149_9417_n.jpeg

The Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services was launched in March 2013 and with the competition for training contracts remaining fierce and university fees continuing to grow, many will want to give serious thought to the new route into law. The scheme has until recently gone largely unnoticed to many and is an area that needs to be considered by those currently within legal education and those already within the profession.

What is it? 

The Higher Apprenticeship framework has been developed by four partners; Pearson in Practice, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Damar Training and Skills for Justice. The project is being funded by the UK Government via the National Apprenticeship Service.

It is a structured programme of vocational ‘on the job’ training together with academic study. It leads to a formal level four qualification called Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services, which is the equivalent to that of a first year law degree.

Who is it aimed at? 

The scheme is aimed at school leavers with good GCSE grades and/ or A – levels or those currently working within the profession wishing to further their career. The apprentice will be paid a wage and there is government funding available to support the costs of training delivery (the total amount varies according to the age of the apprentice) or alternatively the costs may be paid privately or by the company.

Can you become at qualified solicitor on the scheme? 

As it currently stands – no, however, Skills for Justice are looking to develop Higher Apprenticeships at levels 6 and 7 in 2014. It is not currently certain what form level 7 will take but it is anticipated that it would be the equivalent to the LPC.  Whether, given the time spent in industry by the apprentice, there will still be a requirement to formally complete a training contract remains to be seen. However, the potential is there to qualify without incurring the cost of both university and LPC fees.

What has been the legal industry’s reaction? 

 ”Don’t fix what ain’t broke”, was the Supreme Court’s president, Lord Neuberger’s, warning in a speech on reforming legal education in November 2012. However, by and large the scheme has been warmly endorsed with many firms now looking to offer legal apprenticeships.

The firms see the benefit of changing the route into the profession. They can tap into the pool of talent who may have decided not to go to university or continue with the LPC in light of the increasing tuition fees. For the same reason it is hoped that it will strengthen diversity within the profession.

What are the benefits to the apprentice? 

It goes without being saying that the key benefit to the individual is the opportunity to enter the legal profession without incurring university fees.

Additionally, there is the ‘try before you buy’ incentive. Many think the law is for them and have an ideal of what being a lawyer is based on TV and film. The reality is often very different with long hours, lots of paperwork and difficult clients. An apprenticeship allows a person to try this sector without incurring university fees’ which inevitably leads to long term debt.

Disadvantages 

It cannot be said with any confidence at this stage that apprentices will receive the same level of education many lawyers were exposed to during the degree. Further it is not yet clear what level of checks will be given to the academic learning or the firms ‘on the job’ training.

Additionally, it is likely that the apprenticeship will become as fiercely sought after as a training contract, which does not alter the status quo for many school / university leavers.

Comment

It should be remembered that the apprenticeship is not a new concept and it is anticipated that it will reflect the training contract with apprentices spending time in different seats. What is new is that the Government will pay for a proportion of the training costs dependant on eligibility and there is no requirement for university training.

On balance and in light of the current financial climate putting many off university this new route can only benefit the legal profession by ensuring that firms remain diverse and that the law is open to all.

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Posted 17 February - by Hannah, President

Welcome to the 2014 LJLD blog!DSC_41247B

I’m delighted to have taken over as President of the LJLD and I thought I’d use the first blog of the year as an opportunity to welcome our new committee and let you know of our upcoming plans. However, first and foremost, I need to say a huge thank you to those committee members who are leaving us – Sundip, Rebecca, Iwan and Kirsty. We had a very successful 2013 and that wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication from the committee as a whole.

We have five new recruits joining the team this year; Fiona, Nilesh, Michaela, Aimee and Sanjit. Read more about our new committee here. You will see we’ve got a diverse committee – from students to solicitors, from in house lawyers to private practice. So we hope, more than ever, we represent the legal community of Leicestershire and can keep you updated with news and events to interest you at whatever stage of your career.

We’ve had our first meeting of the year and there are exciting plans in the pipeline already. Keep your eye on our website, Twitter and Facebook pages for details of our upcoming events. You can expect to see our usual flagship events such as the charity quiz and annual ball, as well as new networking opportunities both fun and informative.

The first date for your diary is the welcome drinks evening at the Bankers’ Club on Thursday 20 February. This is a chance to meet our new committee and welcome any new members to the LJLD. So whether you’re a regular at our events, or you want to see what the LJLD is all about, we’d love to see you. Tickets are only £5, which includes a drink and nibbles, and you can secure your place by emailing Gail on gwhyte@gateleyuk.com. Please do so as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.

Look out for our first edition of the Junior Lawyer Journal, which we hope to release in April. We publish two editions of the magazine each year and cover up to date legal issues and topics for discussion which affect our membership. There will also be articles from our sponsors and photos of our latest events. If there’s any topics which you would particularly like us to include, or if you have any questions for our committee members, please do get in touch. You can email me on president@ljld.co.uk. Finally, if you’re not yet on our mailing list, please email membership@ljld.co.uk. That’s the easiest way to keep up to date with our plans. Please also encourage your friends and colleagues to get involved; the LJLD is open to students, paralegals, trainees and solicitors up to 5 years PQE who either work or live in Leicestershire. It’s free to join and we’re always pleased to welcome new members at our events.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Hannah

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Posted 18 November 2012 – by James, President

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 

With the legal industry undergoing significant changes following the implementation of the Legal Services Act, a significant amount of larger clients are deciding to make some in house legal roles available to save on their external legal spend. So as more and more in house jobs become available, a significant number of junior lawyers are considering the possibility and are having to weigh up the pros and cons of the two very different legal roles.

Private Practice

It is anticipated that the majority of our membership that are employed in the legal industry are working in private practice. But what are the main advantages and disadvantages of working for a private firm?

It is safe to say that one of the best reasons to work in private practice is the training. Most firms offer a structured training contract and ensure that their junior lawyers are given the training needed to develop into fantastic lawyers. It is often the case that you can be guided by a senior member of the team or even work closely with a partner, giveing you the chance to tap into their knowledge and experience. This will only help your progression as a budding young lawyer. You will also normally have the opportunity to develop a specialism whilst in private practice, particularly in light of the changing legal market, firms need to ensure that you can give specialist advice to the bigger clients – advice they can’t get in house.

It is also understood that law firms will generally pay you a larger salary, however this really depends on where you are in your career and location! As all private practice lawyer will know, you are expected to attend a number of networking events to develop your relationships with other intermediaries. You are also expected to try and win work for your firm and to encourage clients to instruct you to show them what you can do. This obviously has to be done in addition to fee earning as you all have targets to meet. After all, you are expected to make the firm money by not just bringing in new work but by doing it too!

In private practice it is clear that there will be demands made on you by clients and you must ensure a top level of service is provided. You will appreciate how to meet their needs and keep them happy as they will be the ones that pay the bills! Therefore this sometimes means that the client’s needs have to come before your own, which can mean long hours.

In House

Work in house can be hugely different from working in private practice, if not only because you have gone from many clients to only one! The benefits of this have got to be that you are no longer required to attend lots of networking events to try and win new work as your only client will pay your salary so you don’t need to worry about billable hours.

There is also the perception that as you have not got to bend over backwards to please your client, that you will not be doing plenty of hours, however this isn’t always true. Of course if the business is a well oiled machine and things are going smoothly then possibly not. However, if a job needs doing then it will be expected of you to ensure that it is done urgently. Directors will want the same level of service that an external firm provides, especially if you have moved in house from private practice.

Some in house roles do not offer the competitive salary that can be found in private practice but they do sometimes offer various share schemes and bonuses which need to be considered. You must also weigh up the fact that it is possible that you may not be have to work as many hours and do all of the business development that has been expected of you before.

An in house lawyer has been previously been referred to as a ‘generalistic’ lawyer. This means that normally you will not specialise in one area of law, but deal with a wide range of legal issues. In this case efficiency is key, as the directors will expect to hear from you by the end of the day and request that you try to minimise and deal with any potential legal hurdles.

So, whats right for you?

So you’ve thought about moving in house but you need to weigh up your options carefully. Whilst the hours may well be better, a different kind of stress is attached to accepting a more personal responsibility. Also, as you are not going to be out and about in the market place, you need to remember that if you do decide you want to go back to private practice at a later date it may be more difficult to do so.

It is understood that the best time to move in house, if you decide to do this, is around three to five years PQE. This is because you have some experience but you are not too expensive for the business to make you a competitive offer! Only you can decide if you want to take the step into the corporate world and out of private practice but with the legal market as it is today, one thing is for sure, more and more of us will be asking that crucial question which was so fittingly asked by the Clash all those years ago.

 

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Posted 17 October 2012 – by Philippa, Treasurer

Further Developments of the Legal Education and Training Review

The second discussion paper on the Legal Education and Training Review, published at the end of August, reveals responses so far to the proposals made by the Review. Responses have been received from the various branches of the legal profession, both regulators and practicitioners, and from legal education providers.

1. Commitment to a qualifying law degree

Responses show a general commitment to a qualifying law degree as the primary route of entry to the profession, and it is widely regarded as an important method of developing a core of substantive knowledge and honing cognitive skills. It is also recognised that an English LLP is a highly regarded qualification internationally. However, opinions vary as to the content of undergraduate courses, in particular, whether courses should continue to focus on learning the law or whether it should be accepted that only a broad understanding can be attained at this stage and therefore more attention given to developing cognitive ability. What is widely agreed is that certain areas need major action, in particular the teaching of writing skills, company law, commercial awareness and interpreting and using legislation.

2. Division in relation to the GDL

The GDL divides opinion. There is a view, widely among academics, that the fact that the equivalent to a law degree can be attained after only a few months’ legal study undermines the profession. There are also widespread concerns about rote learning, which may be sufficient to enable delegates to pass the GDL but will not equip them with the requisite skills to practice the law. However, employers tend to look favourably on the GDL, suggesting that GDL students can be more mature, both intellectually and in terms of life experience, and have more intellectual variety, having studied a variety of undergraduate disciplines. Further, it is felt that obtaining the GDL shows commitment and a more positive decision to pursue a career in the law, and GDL graduates are thought to show a greater currency in their knowledge of the core principles (having studied them more recently).

3. Alternative routes of entry to the profession

With regard to alternative entry routes there is significant division. A small proportion of the responses show support for widening access, and assert that the current system is too limited, which is both unfair to candidates and detrimental to the development of the profession. Others are more sceptical, but generally would support widening entry routes as long as a sufficient level of academic rigour is ensured. The final group questions the need for widening entry routes altogether, arguing that there are already too many people trying to enter the profession, and that the current alternative routes are sufficient. CILEx is seen as a success story in terms of providing an alternative entry route, being accessible, flexible in terms of the abilities of individuals, well regulated and able to maintain high standards, and it is argued that this is enough to widen access beyond the requirement of obtaining a training contract. Concerns are raised that widening entry routes will necessarily make entry easier and therefore dilute the quality of the profession.

4. Development of the LPC

It is generally accepted that the LPC needs development. Particular areas of concern include that the core modules are too wide, that there is insufficient training in legal writing and advocacy and that the course does not in fact mirror practice. Further, LPC courses are not felt to cater sufficiently for those going into medium sized or smaller high street firms. It is also felt that more training is needed in commercial awareness, equality and diversity and working across jurisdictions. There has been some support for greater integration of the LPC with the training contract, however at present opinion generally leans towards retaining an initial classroom based course before practice.

5. Development of training

It is widely agreed that an element of supervised training must be retained, and that the training contract can be extremely successful. However, there are concerns about the great variety in the quality of training and supervision that trainees receive. Proposals for a final qualifying assessment have received mixed reviews – while it could ensure a minimum standard for newly qualified solicitors there are concerns about costs and that it is unnecessary for trainees from certain firms. There have been relatively few responses to proposals for changes to training for prospective barristers. The Bar Standards Board and Bar Council are of the opinion that the models of the BVTC and pupillage are fit for purpose, subject to some adjustments currently being incorporated. (This suggests that the BSB and Bar Council would not be in support of proposals for common training of barristers and solicitors.)

6. Over-supply – number of jobs and training contracts compared to number of applicants

Responses to the issue of over-supply show that it is widely thought that it is for the market to determine demand and not for the regulators to artificially manage the market. An open market is thought essential for maintaining quality standards, as only the highest calibre of candidate is able to attain access to the profession. In response to this, the Review states that if the market is to remain extremely competitive, what is required is more detailed careers advice, wider options for ‘off-ramps’ (recognised routes between different areas of the profession and the ability to transfer to other professions) and ensuring that high standards of equality and diversity are maintained in the selection process.

7. Costs

Again, this is not widely thought to be an area which can be regulated if the market is to remain open and competitive, although costs must not be allowed to override the need for quality.

In summary, the LETR research team advise that the central issues they have drawn from the responses are:-

  • That current training requirements do not equip students with the skills required in practice
  • There is too much reliance on initial training to guarantee competence
  • Professional ethics are not given enough focus in either the academic or the vocational stage of training
  • Attention needs to be given to developing a consistent training framework and means of regulation for paralegals
  • There is a lack of flexibility for routes of training and pathways across different branches of the profession

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Posted 8 October 2012 – by Sam, JLD National Representative

Report from JLD National Committee meeting 6 October 2012

As the sun shone on the nation’s capital on a glorious autumn day, we settled down in the luxurious surroundings of the Reading Room at Chancery Lane for our first national committee meeting since the conference in April. A lot has been going on since then…

The executive committee updated us on their activities and the big changes since the spring. The biggest, of course, being the removal of the Trainee Solicitor Minimum Salary (check out Natasha’s posts on the subject, below). Emma Dickinson attended the SRA Board Meeting where the decision was made by apparently uninterested and predetermined board members. The change will take effect from 1 August 2014 and the JLD will continue to campaign on the issue.

National Chair Hekim Hannan and the committee had been busy attending the Legal Education and Training review Symposium in July, the LawWorks pro bono dinner and awards, the European Bar Association conference in Oslo, the annual Pride March, NQ forum, International Weekend last week and more. Notably, members attended the British Council reception for Aung San Suu Kyi, pro-democracy icon and Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate.

Kat Gibson appraised us of the issues and changes afoot within the Law Society Council, including regulating and protection paralegals, an issue also being addressed by the LETR (below).

Nominations are now open for the JLD elections 2012. Not only is it a great item for your CV, the work is very rewarding and fulfilling. Get you nominations in by 22 October and you could be helping to shape the future of the profession in very changeable times. More here.

There are loads of events going on throughout the year for members and there are even webinars and live feeds in the pipeline, so make sure you sign up to the newsletter and keep an eye on the website. The annual conference is the flagship event, but coming up is the LPC Student Forum as well as CPD accredited courses for practitioners. Check out the calendar here.

Sara Chandler, chair of the Law Society International Human Rights Committee, gave a very stimulating and at times shocking account of lawyers in other jurisdictions who are victims of censorship, intimidation, violence and sometimes death at the hands of an oppressive state. She offered many examples of lawyers who had been disappeared, permanently disabled and killed for standing up against their governments, in China and Russia. Sara discussed the great work being done by lawyers all over the world as part of the Caravana Internacional de Juristas in Colombia and what a difference our involvement can make.  There are various charities you get involved with and the International Action Team, which offers training and opportunities for junior lawyers to get involved in human rights. If you would like to know more, please email the JLD or visit the international section’s website.

Annalisa Checchi encouraged us to get involved with the JLD Raleigh International overseas development project to Tanzania in 2013. The overseas development project has been running for a number of years and gives the opportunity for junior lawyers to make a real difference to communities in deprived areas of the world, to work with junior lawyers from that area and build a strong network of UK and foreign colleagues. It also counts towards your CPD for the whole year (that’s how you sell it to your supervisor) – learn more about it here.

To finish off the meeting, we split down into groups to dissect the LETR second discussion paper addressing what they perceive to be the key issues in legal training. The questions posed by the LETR are at times academic and at others bewildering – the Law Society has refused to answer the final question on the basis that it is incomprehensible. The paper looks at perceived flaws in the training regime, including practical interpersonal skills and insufficient focus on ethics and values. It proposes a new structure, involving varying degrees of qualification, drawing paralegals and legal assistants into the regulatory regime and amending the qualifying law degree. There were mixed views on what was practical, beneficial or otherwise, but all felt confused at least to some extent. Our treasurer, Philippa, will be blogging about the paper over the next couple of weeks.

And finally, as it was Hekim’s last meeting as national Chair, I’d like to say thank you for his leadership over the past year and wish him well for the future.

If you know anyone who deserves a nomination for the LawWorks pro bono award, email the Law Society with your nomination ready for next year. If you would like information on any of the above, how to get more involved or have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me on national@ljld.co.uk.

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Posted 18 Spetember 2012 – by Natasha, Welfare officer

SO here we are. After months of the legal profession battling with the SRA over the Trainee Solicitor Minimum Salary issue, a decision was reached on 12 May 2012. The SRA Board have officially announced that from 1 August 2014, law firms will no longer be required to pay their trainee solicitors the mandatory minimum salary of £18,590 in Central London and £16,650 outside. Instead, trainee solicitors will be entitled to the minimum wage, under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, currently an hourly wage of £6.08.

Becoming a lawyer, like many other professions, is a long road to qualification. The standards set at the academic and vocational stages of training ensure a high quality profession, but the financial investment in pursuing a career as a solicitor is extremely costly. Once the academic stage is complete, there is still a long road to qualification from the Legal Practice Course, through the training contract – gaining the essential experience, through long hours and demanding workloads. Other professions taking a long road to qualification include Doctors, Chartered Accountants and Dentists. Without getting into a debate regarding the most prestigious of these professions, or the most worthy, it’s fair to say that they all require a high level of determination and passion in the subject in order to ultimately qualify. But how far can passion for the career take you along the road…without the money for the fare?

According to nhscareers.nhs.uk “in the most junior hospital trainee post (Foundation Year 1) the basic starting salary is £22,412. This increases in Foundation Year 2 to £27,798. For a doctor in specialist training the basic starting salary is £29,705. If the doctor is contracted to work more than 40 hours and/or to work outside 7am-7pm Monday to Friday, they will receive an additional supplement which will normally be between 20% and 50% of basic salary.” According to myjobsearch.com Careers Guide “Trainee dentists usually start on around £28,000 during their vocational training period.” According to the Prospects.ac.uk, the UK’s Official Graduate Careers site “Chartered accountants have to undertake a training contract (usually three to five years) in order to qualify…Salaries for trainees range from £18,000 to £28,000 for university graduates, although they could be higher in London or lower in small regional firms.”

How fair is it that trainee lawyers, who are equally as likely to be under large, stressful workloads and working as demanding hours as junior doctors or dentists, should receive so much less? Chair of the JLD Hekim Hannan stated: “They have effectively slammed the door shut in the faces of those from lower socio-economic groups trying to enter the profession. £6.08 an hour for a 35 hour week is a salary of £11,065 a year and a monthly take home of £838.02. Furthermore, most trainee solicitors work more than 35 hours a week but it is unlikely that they will ever complain as they will be in danger of jeopardising their future careers. Exploitation for the most vulnerable in our profession will be open to abuse.”

SO is it all doom and gloom for those who wanted to pursue a career as a solicitor? Should any student studying to be a Lawyer very quickly switch their career path and divert to an academic course of medicine? Or….could there be an upside? As Lawyers we know better than anyone that there is always an opposite side to every argument.

When the SRA Board was trying to “sell” the idea that abolishing the trainee minimum salary could have it’s benefits, they had made the point that “any potential negative impacts on access [to the profession] must be considered against the opportunities which will remain to enter a highly desirable profession” and had stated the potential that removal of the minimum salary requirement may result in an increase in the number of training contracts available. It would make sense, as if a law firm wanted to invest £36,000 in new trainees, the current mandatory minimum salary means they could only afford to take on two and may choose to employ 3 paralegals instead (who are not bound by any mandatory minimum salary). With the abolishment of the minimum salary, law firms may be more inclined to take on more trainee solicitors, at the same cost to them as paralegals.

The costs incurred at training contract level (excluding wages) would be somewhere between £3,000 and £4,000 for  the professional skills course (PSC). With the minimum salary abolished, firms could pay their trainees a salary of £11,000 and cover the PSC costs, at a mere £13,000 per year over the two year training contract. This total is substantially lower than what firms are incurring per trainee now: a minimum of £18,000-£19,000 per annum.

Of course, paralegals don’t incur any additional costs. Firms can pay a paralegal the national minimum wage, get the work they need doing done and don’t have to worry about additional costs incurred taking them through to qualification. However if firms want to retain quality staff, they will have to progress the careers of their employed paralegals onto training contracts or risk losing their now EXPERIENCED paralegal to a competitor firm.

It is also important to emphasise that just because the mandatory minimum trainee solicitor salary has been abolished, this does not mean that all trainee solicitors will be on the minimum wage. We at the Leicestershire Junior Lawyer’s Division talk often and openly about how important it is to get as much work experience as possible in order to further your chances of securing a training contract and make yourself a valuable asset to the firm. The biggest difference between the earlier examples of other professions and their comparatively high starting salary even at junior posts is that professions such as Doctors require you to have ongoing work experience even throughout the academic stages of the qualification. Many trainee solicitors leave university with very little relevant work experience and this means that the two year training contract is a HUGE learning experience, not only in getting to grips with their specialist areas of law, but with general office and client etiquette and other administrative duties.

The moral of the story is this: there is no substitute for experience. Gaining employment in the legal field, securing a training contract and being able to negotiate on salary will be a lot less of a struggle if relevant experience is obtained as early in your law career as possible. There are many ways to get experience even at the academic stages of your law career, from sandwich courses to vacation schemes to diversity schemes to law firm open days. Your local JLD will be happy to talk to you about how you go about getting that relevant experience.

And remember this, “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius

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Posted 1 August 2012 – by Philippa, Treasurer

Phase One of the Legal Education and Training Review

Phase one of the Legal Education and Training Review, conducted by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and ILEx, has recently completed. The literature released to date points toward significant changes to legal education being implemented both at the academic and training levels and for qualified lawyers. Extensive proposals for reform have been put forward for consideration, with final recommendations to be made next December.

The main areas for reform are based around:

Broadening access to the profession

Proposals are made for point of entry aptitude assessments for prospective university students, which would remove the requirement for A Levels and open up access to qualifying law degrees to prospective students from a wider range of educational backgrounds.

Widening the undergraduate syllabus

Proposals are made to broaden the undergraduate syllabus from the traditional core subjects to include study of professional ethics and consideration of the conduct of business regulations. It is thought that as these are an essential element of legal practice, so they should form part of the backbone of legal education.

Costs of completing the LPC/BVC

Concerns are raised about the expense of completing the vocational stage of legal education in view of the disproportionate number of training contracts and pupillages available compared to the number LPC and BVC graduates. Proposals include limiting entry to the LPC/BVC to students with a 2:1 degree or higher, introducing aptitude tests as part of the LPC/BVC application process, and increasing the opportunity for students to work while they study.

Common training for solicitors and barristers

Proposals are made for prospective barristers and solicitors, and possibly also CILEx students, to do at least some of their vocational training together. At present, each regulated area of the legal profession has its own independent training regime, which is inflexible and increases the requirement for training (and therefore costs) when practicing lawyers move across the profession. Common training would increase flexibility in terms of practice, and students would achieve a better understanding of each branch of the legal profession and not need to decide at the outset of their vocational training which route to take.

Reform of the training contract system

Under the current system, fitness for qualification is determined by the two year training period having been completed. This is under review to allow flexibility according to the ability of individual trainees. Proposals include conferring authority on training providers to say when a trainee is ready to practice unsupervised (subject to a minimum supervised period). Further, proposals for the replacement of the training contract/pupillage with a period of ‘supervised practice’ have been put forward. It is suggested that this would increase jobs for graduates by allowing flexibility of recruitment for employers, and as a wider range of organisations could offer employment. It would also allow trainees/pupils to tailor their training around their chosen field of practice, and offer them greater responsibility from an earlier stage (if appropriate).

Review of CPD

There is a growing awareness by regulators that professional development is not necessarily achieved through simply attending courses. At present, regulators aim by CPD to ensure a minimum standard in each branch of the profession. Regulators are now looking away from the traditional ‘sanctions’ model of CPD, which focuses on compliance with the regulations (essentially, hours put in), towards a ‘benefits’ model, which focuses on personal development and ongoing competence. They are aiming to develop a CPD model by which they can effectively monitor professional standards in practice, such as through online record keeping, while ensuring that CPD is a useful and relevant exercise for lawyers in keeping up with developments in their field of practice. It is also recognised that much of a lawyer’s professional learning comes directly from practice, and therefore consideration is being given as to how this can be monitored so that it may contribute towards regulated CPD.

You can find out more about the Legal Education and Training Review at their website or by following them on Twitter @LETReview.

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Posted 6 May 2012 – by Sam, JLD National Representative

Report from JLD National Committee meeting 29 April 2012

Despite the meeting taking place the morning after the night before, we managed a pretty rammed meeting in central Liverpool. The Committee dissected the events of the fantastic JLD Conference and Ball from the day before (see what you missed here) and the feedback received was excellent. Particular praise to the sterling efforts put in by the National Executive, Yvonne Treacy (without whom the JLD would not function!) and the Merseyside Junior Lawyers Division for organising the ball. A fantastic £1,480 was raised for MJLD’s charity, Clatterbridge Cancer Research (@Clatterbridge).

Having fortified ourselves with more coffee/Berocca, we got our teeth into the agenda…

SRA Review of the CPD Framework

Jane Jarman of Nottingham Law School led the National Committee as a focus group on our experiences of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework, as part of the SRA’s review of the current system. Committee members reported varied experiences, with the biggest barriers identified as cost and restrictions imposed on spending time away from fee-earning. Some interesting suggestions for reform were proposed, while examples of good practice were shared. The CPD review is part of the Legal Education and Training Review, below.

Legal Education and Training Review

Alexia Binns updated us on the largest review of the legal education system since the early 1970s. The first discussion paper to be published as part of the review is available on their website www.letr.org.uk and proposes some radical changes, including abolishing the qualifying law degree. The market is undeniably in a state of flux, but it’s not too late to have your say – submit your views direct via the website, follow them @LETReview, email juniorlawyers@lawsociety.org.uk or head along to the Symposium in Manchester on 10-11 July 2012.

Trainee Minimum Salary Review

Emma Dickinson (@emmaswdickinson) updated us on the SRA (@sra_solicitors) consultation on the review of the Trainee Solicitor Minimum Salary. The JLD, amongst others, has levelled various criticisms at the SRA for the handling of the review, including the content of the consultation paper. A request for the SRA’s Equalities Impact Assessment was still outstanding – although this is now available here. Emma reported that the SRA Board will meet to decide on this key issue on 16th May. The Committee agreed that a decision, either way, should not be made before the LETR had been completed. For more information, including the JLD response click here.

Legal Aid Bill

The Legal Aid Bill finally became the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, when it received Royal Assent on 1st May, earning the dubious honour of being the most amended bill ever to be laid before the Houses of Parliament. The result was disappointing for the campaigners (@soundoffjustice), with comparatively few concessions being made by the Government. It is unclear what the impact will be on the profession, but all junior lawyers and students should carefully consider their career path as the Act will have wide ranging effects. For more details click here.

Law Society Council and National Committee Update

Kat Gibson, Law Society Council Member, reported that they had been tackling many of the issues the JLD were addressing. Additionally, the Council had received assurances that the problems experienced with MySRA and the issuing of practice certificates would not happen again, while looking at the well-reported problems around Conveyancing Panels, obtaining Professional Indemnity Insurance and the Assigned Risk Pool.

The National Executive discussed the newly launched Essay Competition, the success of the LPC Student Forum in Leeds and the Trainee Forum in Birmingham and that Alex Aldridge of @LegalCheek fame is the new JLD website editor.

Although we will all be beavering away in the background, the next national committee meeting isn’t until the Autumn. However, in the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns or are after more information on any of the above, please drop me a line at national@ljld.co.uk.

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Posted 17 April 2012 – by Natasha, Welfare Officer

Leicestershire Junior Lawyers Division response to the SRA consultation on removal of the Trainee Solicitor Minimum Salary

Without the protection that the trainee solicitor minimum salary offers, our members are clearly very concerned about whether this is a career they can afford to pursue. Our members have spoken openly about how much debt they have incurred, particularly in light of the current costs of undertaking an undergraduate degree. Our members have taken on student loans, as well as personal and professional development loans, to reach the end of the vocational stage of training and have done so with the reassurance that there is a guaranteed salary adequate to ensure repayment of those debts and to secure a satisfactory quality of life. Our members raised the point that the shortage of training contracts means that they must be willing to go anywhere to secure employment and this can of course mean relocating to a different city, incurring substantial increases in their living costs, including renting property, commuting, etc, not to mention the emotional cost of leaving all they know behind. It is very clear that without the minimum salary many of our members would not be in a position to enter the profession without the financial support of their families. For those who don’t come from wealthy backgrounds, the opportunities to embark on a career as a solicitor narrows and many are restricted to their current city, unable to gain independence from the family home until much later in life. Our members discussed the difficulties they would face working on the state minimum wage and the added pressure of securing extra sources of income, something which may be near impossible due to the exceptional hours people in our sector work and also the fact that sometimes trainees are contractually prohibited from undertaking other employment by their training firm.

It is evident from the responses we have received from our members that the proposed plans to abolish the trainee minimum salary will undoubtedly impact not only on those from deprived backgrounds, but also the growing forgotten class between the working and middle class. Mature students, including parents who have debts and responsibilities like mortgages and child care costs will also be disproportionately affected. The state minimum wage is insufficient to cover these costs. Leicestershire is a particularly diverse area and it is a sad fact that ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in economically deprived areas. Without the trainee minimum salary, many would be unwilling to take the financial risks of pursuing a career in law and this would certainly adversely affect the diversity of the profession.

The information collated all indicates a huge concern that what is truly at stake is the diversity of the profession. Whilst the consultation documents supplied by the SRA stipulates that the Authority does not consider a trainee minimum salary to be within its regulatory remit, the SRA should consider the views of our members and the effect it will have on securing a strong, diverse and reliable profession in which the public can put its faith.

The response we received from existing trainee solicitors showed that there are a large amount of trainees already expected to work exceptionally long hours within their firms. Taking away the minimum salary, the equivalent hourly rates will fall far below the state minimum wage. The fear is that without the trainee minimum salary, the expectation to work these hours will still exist and therefore will lead to the unregulated exploitation of trainee solicitors.

Our members also feel that the trainee minimum salary is an incentive to ensure competition weeds out the weaker candidates and secure the best quality of applicants, to secure in turn the highest quality for our profession.

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Posted 7 April 2012 – by Hannah, Secretary and Academic Officer

A change in the training of junior lawyers?

The Legal Practice Course demands students’ time, dedication and a significant amount of funding. This coupled with the difficulties in obtaining a training contract makes the decision to embark on the LPC a risky one.

In a recent poll by the JLD, 71% of young lawyers said they would not have studied the LPC if they had known how few training contracts there are. Many LPC graduates become paralegals, legal executives or they leave the legal profession entirely. In many cases this is not a reflection on their ability to become strong lawyers, but it is simply due to the fact the number of LPC graduates strongly outweigh the number of training contracts available.

What are the solutions?

A change in university recruitment could help to solve the problem LPC graduates face. Currently, it seems that universities are keen to recruit as many students as possible in order to meet financial targets. If they were given the freedom to paint a realistic picture for aspiring lawyers about the difficulties in beginning a legal career, students would be impressive for their determination as opposed to their quantity. An honest, practical approach would allow students to make a more informed decision about their future career, before incurring additional debt.

A more radical change?

A far more radical change to the training and development of solicitors has recently been suggested by The Legal Services Board. They propose to remove the need for finding a training contract by allowing students to qualify as solicitors following completion of the LPC. Firms would have to design an appropriate programme of development for the first few years of practice but this could have greater flexibility than the strict requirements to meet during a training contract.

This idea has been met with a range of opinion. A professor at the College of Law believes this would benefit the legal profession as it would create a ‘global transactional qualification’. There would still be training in place but it would be available to a more diverse range of young lawyers. It would also allow LPC graduates to focus entirely on the areas of law in which they want to practise, which would allow them to develop more specialist skills at an earlier stage.

However, despite the difficulties in securing a training contract, the advantages of this method of development remain clear. It provides two years in which graduates can develop their client skills, learn how to take instruction and have the opportunity to begin working on cases with the security of continued supervision and support. A training contract provides real experience which is not achievable within a university environment. The ability to become solicitors two years earlier and with significantly less knowledge of the legal world may well be a daunting idea for current students.

Although the LSB are criticising the current formalities and the need to train in at least three different departments, it does have its advantages. A training contract makes trainees aware of possibilities for their careers which they hadn’t yet considered. By the end of the training as it currently stands, trainees become solicitors with the benefit of a detailed knowledge of how several areas of law can work in practice. This allows them to make a more informed decision as to how they want to progress their career. By specialising too soon, trainees would minimise the options open to them.

What next for LPC students?

Whether it’s a simple change to LPC recruitment or a more drastic adjustment to the development of young lawyers, it is clear that any help in the journey to become a solicitor would be welcomed by students. But for now the advice remains the same; students would benefit from researching training contracts and beginning the LPC with enthusiasm and focus.

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Posted 5 March 2012 – by Iwan, Local Law Society Representative

There’s no substitute for experience?

Few would reject the notion that the search for a training contract is one of the most stressful experiences for young lawyers. With law firms still smarting from the recession and money tight, competition for jobs is fierce. Often there is very little for firms to distinguish between candidates and rarely has finding a Training Contract, or securing that first Newly Qualified position, been as difficult as it is now.

But surely it’s not all doom and gloom? What can you do to ensure that you give yourself the very best chance of getting the job you crave? What are the firms looking for?

The answer, it seems, is experience.

Research suggests that work experience is critical in setting you apart from others, making your CV jump off the page, and giving you a head start in the race to secure that all important training contract.

The paragraph in your CV headed ‘Legal Work Experience’ has become essential. Firms want to see that you have wider experience of the legal profession, not just academic qualities. They want to see that you’ve developed a range of personal skills and have a greater understanding of what life will be like in legal practice. As one law firm partner put it, “it’s about hitting the ground running”.

Vacation Schemes are highly sought after by candidates, and seemingly with good reason. According to the High Fliers Report: The Graduate Market in 2012, ‘half the Training Contracts offered by the leading law firms are likely to be filled by graduates who have already completed work experience with the employer.’

Its not what you know, but who you know?

So, gaining legal work experience is a good idea. But, as we all know, it’s hard to come by.

Some junior lawyers have found it difficult to gain that ‘initial’ work experience. Whisper it, but there is a consensus amongst some that informal work experience depends on the ‘connections’ you, or your family and friends, may have with a particular law firm.

‘Connections’ may or may not help. The trick is not to be put off if you don’t have any. Many firms offer ‘diversity schemes’ which allow candidates with lower academic grades the chance to obtain experience and the possibility of obtaining a Training Contract. Many others have strict application processes involving assessment centers, meaning that you are selected on merit.

Tips?

So, what is the best way to go about gaining legal work experience and are there any tricks of the trade?

It seems that a thorough, selective approach to applying for work experience is essential. Firms often stress the importance of doing your research – they will be more reluctant to invest their time in you unless you can show that you have a genuine interest in the profession and, importantly, in their firm.

Law firm open days are another opportunity to gain the all important ‘initial’ access to the profession. Open days present opportunities to meet new people, to speak to trainees and partners and you may make contacts with people who may be able to help.

And if at first you don’t quite manage to secure the legal work experience you wanted, don’t be afraid of thinking ‘outside the box’. Law firms are impressed by people who maximise their time efficiently to improve their commerciality.

This might involve you gaining experience in other business areas to develop your business acumen. Remember to link your experience and the skills gained back to the legal profession, to show why that experience will make you a better lawyer in the long run.

Whilst gaining experience is by no means easy, the opportunities are there. The message coming from law firms therefore seems to be: ‘the ball’s in your court!’.

So don’t be put off. Given the importance of gaining that initial experience, effort and perseverance will go a long way.

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Posted 5 February 2012 – by Natasha, Welfare Officer

“If you put all your strength and faith and vigour into a job and try to do the best you can, the money will come” Lawrence Welk.

Or will it?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published proposals to abolish the mandatory minimum salary for Trainee Solicitors. A compulsory minimum salary for Trainees was prescribed by the Law Society in 1982. The purpose was to protect Trainees from exploitation and to encourage high calibre graduates into the profession. Since 2007 the setting of the minimum salary has been the responsibility of the SRA. However, the debate as to whether it is appropriate for the Law Society and subsequently the SRA, to intervene in the market  through the setting of a minimum salary for Trainees has been running since 1992.

Is it really the duty of the SRA to enforce a minimum salary for Trainee Solicitors? And if it is their duty, on what grounds? The SRA argue that there is no clear regulatory justification for them to continue to set a minimum salary for trainees as it is unclear as to how the requirement fits with their regulatory remit and current strategic direction.

In a nutshell, the argument for abolishing the requirement is that by considering the requirement against the SRA’s regulatory strategy and objectives, there is no evidence the setting of a minimum salary promotes any of the regulatory principles of the Legal Services Act. Furthermore, the SRA’s strategy of outcomes-focused regulation is based on only regulating areas of identified risk to the public interest and the rule of law. How does a minimum salary for Trainees relate to this? One of the fundamental reasons for maintaining a minimum salary for Trainee Solicitors was to encourage a high calibre of graduates into the legal profession. However, the SRA believe that it is the standards set at the academic and vocational stages of training that ensures a high quality profession.  The other fundamental reason for maintaining a minimum salary was to protect Trainees from exploitation. The SRA has observed that they do not attempt to control the legal employment market in any other way – there is no minimum salary for other legal professionals under their regulatory remit.

The Junior Lawyers Division Executive Committee have asked “in whose interest is it to scrap the minimum salary?”. Without a minimum wage for Trainees, would aspiring Solicitors be more vulnerable to exploitation? As the JLD is already finding, many of those entering the profession are taking work experience and paralegal jobs at very low salaries or even for free. The JLD’s response to the SRA observes that what is truly at stake here is the diversity of the profession. We believe that abolishing the minimum salary will mean there is a real danger that future intakes of Trainees will mainly be populated by individuals from wealthy backgrounds, who are able to accept low-salaried training contracts. Bearing in mind the increasing costs of further education, let alone a legal education, those from more disadvantaged backgrounds and those with dependants will surely be barred from pursuing a legal career. How can they be expected to work for next-to-nothing when they are carrying the burden of increased debt from university, the vocational stage of training and the increasing cost of living?

The SRA consultation is live now and responses are sought from all sectors of the legal community – from LPC student to partner. See the SRA Website for the consultation document. The JLD’s response is available here.

The LJLD feel this is a critical issue and we wish to submit a paper to the SRA putting forward our member’s views on the topic. Please email your views, comments and suggestions on this issue to our Welfare Officer Natasha welfare@ljld.co.uk by 10th March. We will collate the responses and submit this to the SRA before the consultation closes in April and it will also be available on our website.

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Posted 22 January 2012 – by Sam, JLD National Representative

Report from JLD National Committee meeting 21 January 2012

My first meeting as National Representative had a jam-packed agenda and after a sponsorship talk from TM Lewin and an informative talk about CV drafting from Law Society Council Member Peter Wright (follow him on Twitter @pwright78), we got down to the burning issues…

Legal Education and Training Review

With the changes under the Legal Services Act, the dawn of work-based learning and the shift in the market as a whole, the Bar, Solicitors and ILEX regulators are conducting a joint review of training and education in the sector. The first stage of the review is due to be completed shortly and the final recommendations are scheduled for November this year, with implementation planned for 2020. If you want to contribute to the review visit their website www.letr.org.uk, follow them on Twitter @LETReview or head along to the Symposium in Manchester on 10-11 July 2012.

International Women’s Day Summit 8th March 2012

The deadline for submissions in relation to women in the profession and barriers to progression has been postponed until the end of January 2012 to ensure a full range of views can be sought. If you have had a good or bad experience as a woman in the law or you have examples of good or bad practice, check out the website here. The views of male members of the profession are equally welcome!

Legal Aid Bill

Amendments to the Legal Aid Bill are currently being considered in the House of Lords and, if accepted, the Bill could receive Royal Assent by the summer. The JLD’s Vice-Chair, Heather Iqbal-Rayner, warned that two-thirds of legal aided practice areas could disappear. If this could affect you (directly or indirectly), check out the campaign website www.soundoffforjustice.org, follow them on Twitter @Soundoffjustice and see how you can make your voice heard.

Trainee Solicitor Minimum Salary Review

This was the mostly hotly debated item on our agenda. You may have seen the SRA consultation document in relation to removing the Trainee Solicitor Minimum Salary (available here). The representatives generally felt that this will affect a significant proportion of our membership and is something we should all be concerned about. The JLD has provided a response to the proposal (available here) and it is important that the SRA hears the opinions of individuals too. Please take a few minutes to complete a response to the consultation and encourage your colleagues and training principals to do the same. Alternatively, email your comments to juniorlawyers@lawsociety.org.uk.

Student and Trainee Forums

You have a few more days to book your place at the Trainee Solicitor Forum, taking place at the College of Law, Birmingham on 4th February. This is a free event and booking details can be found here. A Student Forum is planned for March and will be held in Leeds. Further details will be published nearer the time.

And to finish…

If you’re interested in seeing what the National Committee for 2012 looks like, we had a ‘family photo’ taken in the beautiful Law Society’s Reading Room – check it out here.

If you have any questions about the National Committee, what we get up to and what we can do for you, please email me at national@ljld.co.uk.

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Posted 15th January 2012 – by James, President

Firstly I would like to wish all of our members a Happy New Year on behalf of the LJLD Committee. I hope you are all back into work mode now or focussed on your studies in preparation for exams which will soon be upon you.

As you will have been aware, the deadline for applying to join the LJLD Committee has passed and the 2012 LJLD Committee has now been formed. There has been a bit of a reshuffle along with a couple of new faces. Myself and Sundip are continuing in our previous positions as President and Vice President this year, while Kirstie, Tom, Sam and Hannah are staying in their respective roles. However, both Sam and Hannah have also taken on some additional responsibilities. Sam is now the new National Representative and he will be making sure that the LJLD’s views are expressed at Chancery Lane and Hannah is our new Secretary. Philippa has decided to have a change of role and she has taken over from Emma as the LJLD Treasurer for 2012.

I am pleased to introduce and welcome three new members to the committee. Iwan Williams, a solicitor and colleague at Harvey Ingram, has been appointed as the Local Law Society Representative for 2012. Secondly, Andrew Tomlinson has taken up the mantle of Membership Secretary. Andrew is a solicitor in the Employment team at Weightmans. And last but by no means least, Natasha Sond from Thaliwal Bridge is our Events and Welfare Officer. I am looking forward to working with our new additions to the committee and believe that they can all bring something new to their respective roles. I am sure they are all raring to go!

Before I look too far into the year ahead, I would just like to reflect on 2011 for the LJLD and thank a couple of people. As you know, the LJLD would not be able to continue to thrive without its members and supporters so thank you all very much for continuing to attend events and I hope that you will carry on in the same vein this year. We had one of our most successful years to date in a number of ways and we couldn’t have done it without you. The 2011 committee was a hard working one and I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of the departing members. Rik Pancholi, who was my predecessor as President, had been on the committee for a number of years and really did help to move the LJLD forward. We wish him all the best in his new life in Singapore. Another committee member left last year to move onto sunnier climates and I would like to thank Jenna Bata for her work whilst on the committee. We then have Kim Daphu, who was fantastic during 2011 arranging a number of events and ensuring that they all ran smoothly, along with Marta Tomlinson who was a strong leader and ensured that the events team were kept in line. She brought a number of fresh ideas to the table and helped make 2011 a memorable year. Finally, Emma Ali (nee Gaston), who was one of the pivotal players in the LJLD’s success over recent years. She made sure that the bank balance did not stray into the red and that we all knew what we were doing. She had been on the committee for a number of years and will be sorely missed.

So, now to look forward and get excited about 2012. With our fresh new committee revitalised and ready to go, we have got a number of new ideas and events in the pipeline which I hope that you will support. We hope to hold the first event towards the end of the month so watch this space. If you have an event that you would like us to host then please get in contact with any of the committee members by dropping us an email. Our details are set out on the 2012 Committee page.

My aim is to continue to grow the LJLD and to help it go from strength to strength. If you have any colleagues or university friends that would benefit from the LJLD then please make sure that they sign up to our membership list. This can be done by emailing your details to membership@ljld.co.uk. Don’t forget, unlike some other JLD’s, our membership is free – so what have you got to lose? We are here to support and represent the views of every single junior lawyer in Leicestershire, so please let us know if you have an issue or topic which you feel needs to be discussed.

So, to conclude, I hope that you get the most out of the LJLD during 2012 and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our events throughout the year.

James

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Posted 7th Janaury 2012 – by Sam, Social Media &Website Officer and JLD National Representative


Hello and welcome to the Leicestershire Junior Lawyers Division Blog!

The LJLD represents post-graduate law students, paralegals, trainee solicitors and qualified solicitors of up to 5 years PQE (Post Qualifierd Experience) in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We put on events throughout the year providing opportunities to network with local professionals and other lawyers, to meet recruiters and to enjoy ourselves!

The LJLD is the local branch of the national Junior Lawyers Division and when I’m not looking after the website, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin sites (phew) I represent our members at national committee meetings in Chancery Lane. The JLD undertakes a wide variety of work campaigning for and supporting our members across England and Wales, tackling issues covering all stages of a young solicitor’s career – from the Legal Practice Course to securing a training contract to getting a job as a qualified solicitor and beyond. You can read more about what the JLD does here. I will be blogging here what we discuss at each meeting so you are always kept up-to-date with the current issues and during the year our other committee members will be posting about issues relevant to you.

But for us, here in Leicestershire, we work closely with our friends and colleagues at the Leicestershire Law Society, De Montfort University, the University of Leicester and the wider business community to ensure that our membership has the best opportunities to progress in their careers and to enjoy being a lawyer. Our new committee will be announced really soon, but for now, check out the other pages on our website and see what we get up to. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the committee using the details available here.

So, watch this space, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook and connect with us on Linkedin to make sure you always know what your LJLD is doing for you. 2012 is going to be a great year for junior lawyers!

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