• Sundeep Bhatia

Code of Practice for Recruitment of Trainee Solicitors

I am delighted that the Law Society has agreed to become a signatory to this Code and that they are prepared to replace the Solicitors Regulation Authority who have withdrawn.

I also welcome the updated wording and the efforts of the Junior Lawyers Division in achieving this outcome

I attach below a Press Release from the Junior Lawyers Division as well as a copy of the revised code

Sundeep Bhatia

Law Society Council Member for Ethnic Minority Lawyers

Press release issued on behalf of the Junior Lawyers Division

29 July 2015 News: Code for recruitment of trainee solicitors is updated to reflect modern practices The voluntary code of recruitment of trainee solicitors (the “Code”) has been updated to reflect modern practices. The Code was created as a recommended standard of good practice for employers, students, higher education careers advisers and faculty staff. The revised Code follows detailed discussions between signatories and students. The announcement follows the news that the Law Society of England and Wales has replaced the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) as a signatory to the Code. The Law Society, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society (“JLD”), Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (“AGCAS”) and Association of Graduate Recruiters (“AGR”) are now signatories to the voluntary code. Since the SRA removed itself as a signatory to the Code in April 2015, the three remaining original signatories have held a number of surveys and discussions to understand whether the Code still provided value to recruiters and students. Junior Lawyers Division chair, Max Harris, said: “We found that there was widespread support for a code which offers best practice guidance on recruitment for trainee solicitors. However, it was clear from the evidence that the Code, as previously written, was out of date and no longer reflected modern recruitment practices. After detailed discussions, we are pleased to announce that a revised Code has been agreed between the signatories.” The revised Code, which will replace the current Code after this recruitment cycle, has been drafted to reflect modern recruitment practices, and includes the following principles: · Training Contract Applications: Employers can set their training contract application deadline at a point of their choosing, but not before the penultimate year of an undergraduate’s degree. · Training Contract Offers: Employers may make offers to students at any point during the student’s penultimate year, or later. · Training Contract Acceptance: Students may accept offers at any point after the offers are made, but students shall not be obliged to accept (nor should they be put under pressure to accept) before a deadline of 15 September in their final year (or four weeks after an offer has been made, whichever is later). · Post-Acceptance: Once a student has accepted an offer they have an obligation to withdraw from the process at all other employers. All providers of training contracts (or periods of recognised training) are encouraged to adhere to the revised Code. However, employers must be reminded that failure to adhere to this revised Code will not result in regulatory action. This voluntary code is designed to provide best practice guidance to law firms and students on the recruitment of trainee solicitors. Employers who comply with this revised Code are free to advertise their compliance in graduate recruitment brochures, their website, or in any other media. Ends

Notes to editors:

VOLUNTARY CODE OF RECRUITMENT FOR TRAINEE SOLICITORS

This Code has been created as a recommended standard of good practice for employers, students and Higher Education Careers Advisers and Faculty staff for the recruitment of trainee solicitors.

The signatories to the code are:

· The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) is the professional body for careers and employability professionals working with higher education students and graduates and prospective entrants to higher education.

· The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) is an employer-led membership organisation, whose goal it is to ensure that all its members can recruit and develop the best student talent for their needs and the needs of the UK economy.

· The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) is the division of the Law Society which represents LPC students, LPC graduates, trainee solicitors, and solicitors up to five years qualified across England and Wales. With approximately 75,000 members, it is one of the largest communities within the Law Society.

· The Law Society of England and Wales is the independent professional body for solicitors, supporting and representing over 133,000 solicitors practising in England and Wales.

Embarking on a training contract (*) is a critical step in a solicitor’s career. This Code allows law and non-law degree students sufficient time to make considered career decisions before committing to this career path and to a particular employer. In doing so, the Code aims to promote diversity and best practice in recruitment in the profession from the entry level.

The code also recognises the business needs of employers when candidates are interviewed and offered training contracts. Firms that participate in the Code shall expect that student applicants will abide by it in return. Compliant firms are free to advertise their participation in the Code.

Obligations on Employers

This Code applies to all applicants whether or not they have undertaken/are undertaking a vacation placement with the employer and whether they are law degree or non-law degree students.

Equality and Diversity

Employers shall give due regard to equality, diversity and social mobility in their recruitment practices with particular reference to the Equality Act 2010.

Application Deadlines

The opening date for training contract applications shall be no earlier than during the penultimate year of an applicant’s undergraduate study.

Employers shall give due consideration to the academic calendar and set an appropriate deadline date for training contract applications. Employers will respond to all applicants regardless of outcome.

Interviews

At interview, applicants will be told if there are any further stages to the selection process and when these will take place.

Training Contract Offers

Employers may make training contract offers to individuals at any time after applications open, but the offer shall not expire before 15 September in the applicant’s final year of undergraduate study, or 4 weeks from the date the offer is made (whichever is later).

Students applying in their final year of study or who have already graduated may be made an offer at any time and will have four weeks to respond unless the required start date is earlier than four weeks.

An offer will not be withdrawn before the time limit for acceptance has expired. Students shall have the option to accept or reject the offer from the date the offer is made, but shall not be pressurized or penalized for waiting until the expiry date of the offer.

Extension of Time

Employers will give consideration to an applicant’s request for an extension to the time limit on an offer, and may grant such an extension provided that a good reason is given.

Financial Assistance for Undergraduate or Postgraduate Studies

Where an employer is prepared to provide financial assistance to a student in relation to undergraduate or postgraduate studies, the terms and conditions on which the assistance is offered will be explained in writing when the training contract offer is made. Any time limit for the acceptance of an offer of financial assistance must not have the effect of reducing the time limit for accepting the training contract offer.

Obligations on Students

Informing Firms When You Cannot Attend a Training Contract Interview / Vacation Scheme

In the event that a student knows in advance that they cannot attend a training contract interview or vacation scheme, they should make every effort to inform the firm in a timely fashion. This should be a minimum of 48 hours notice.

Responding to Offers

Students should carefully and seriously consider any offers of employment as a trainee solicitor and be aware that they will not be penalized for waiting until the expiry date of the offer. Students should accept offers in writing within the time frame stipulated above.

After Accepting an Offer

Once a student has accepted an offer, the student must inform all other employers who have made a training contract or vacation scheme offer, or invited them to attend an interview, that they have accepted a training contract offer elsewhere and as such are withdrawing from the recruitment process. Furthermore the student will make no further applications for a training contract or vacation scheme.

· (*) The words “Training Contract” have been used throughout this document in recognition that this is still the commonly used and understood terminology for what is officially now known as the “Period of Recognised Training” -About the Junior Lawyers Division: Launched in January 2008 for junior lawyers across England and Wales, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) is a division of the Law Society but with an independent voice. With over 70,000 members, it is the largest community within the Law Society. Membership is free and automatic for LPC students, LPC graduates (including those working as paralegals), trainee solicitors, and solicitors with up to five years post qualification experience. The JLD is all about its members and their needs. To enable us to better represent you, we want to hear from you. Email us at juniorlawyers@lawsociety.org.uk.

#juniorlawyersdivision

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