Desperately seeking employment: Trainee lawyers start to self-advertise
In the increasingly competitive world of training contracts and pupilages, some would-be solicitors and barristers have taken the matter into their own hands by advertising themselves in legal publications to try and gain an advantage over their peers and take the next step in their legal career.
Is this going too far, or does it accurately reflect the difficulties faced by those undertaking professional legal training when it comes to finding work at the end of it?
Charles Mallinson, an Oxford University graduate who is currently studying the LPC recently placed an advert in the Liverpool Law Society magazine asking firms specialising in commercial and corporate law to contact him with regard to a training contract. Another student, Maney Ullah did the same in relation to seeking a pupilage in 2009, when he placed an advert in Counsel magazine.
Do such attempts deserve praise or not?
In Maney Ullah's case the Bar Council claimed that the advert potentially breached its Code of Conduct and in any event, a set of Chambers that sought to recruit him as a result of seeing such an advert would also find themselves in trouble for breaching the Code of Conduct in relation to how pupilages are awarded and advertised.
It seems however, that the Law Society is more open-minded and both they and the Solicitors' Regulation Authority have said that advertising yourself as available for a training contract does not breach the rules, provided it is within the bounds of taste and decency.
While it is acknowledged that the advert placed for a pupilage broke the rules surely such initiative is to be praised? Using an advert to try and sell yourself to potential employers demonstrates someone who is commercially aware, able to 'think outside the box' and is keen on staying one step ahead of everyone else. These are all qualities that potential employers are looking for. On the negative side, placing such an advert can seem rather arrogant and rightly or wrongly gives a certain impression of the person to prospective employers, without them ever having met the person concerned.
Long term impact on any future career
Maney Ullah ended up converting to become a solicitor and has since found a position within a law firm. In Charles Mallinson's case the future is still uncertain. What is clear in terms of a future career is that if he applies for jobs with firms in the traditional way, then his name is bound to be 'recognised' as the graduate who placed the advert. This will either be intriguing or off-putting to potential employers.
What the future holds
Does the tacit acceptance of this sort of advertising mean that it will now become commonplace? It is clear that Charles Mallinson and Maney Ullah thought it was necessary in order to try and get on the next rung of the legal ladder. Their situation demonstrates the problems with the system of applying for training contracts and pupilages, when there are too few for the numbers of student solicitors and barristers. Assuming this situation does not change and if such advertising is to become the 'norm' in future then there needs to be clear guidelines about what is and is not acceptable and such adverts should be properly and appropriately regulated.
This post was written on behalf of Switalskis Family Law