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SRA passes buck on trainee deferrals

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  • Someone remind me why exactly we need to pay compulsory fees to the SRA to be student members prior to starting, and what we actually get in return for that?

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  • WTF. if SRA if not going to come to the rescue of these hapless trainees then who is? its a clear cut case of abdication of authority on part of SRA.
    SRA should take a strict stand at least to make sure that TCs are not withdrawn totally even if they are allowed to be deferred [with adequate compensation]
    SRA...please act!

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  • I think I would be warning trainees to think carefully before trying to sue their prospective employers which, in the long run, may have more detrimental effects on their careers.

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  • I'm not remotely surprised the SRA is doing nothing. It likes taking money from the profession but does very little for it. All firms should provide compensation for deferral, so that their prospective trainees have some cash to do an LLM or a language course (and to live - we don't all have rich parents who can or want to support us for another year).

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  • Your references to "buck-passing" and "back-turning" imply that the SRA has powers to intervene when offers of traineeships are withdrawn or delayed by firms, and that we have chosen not to use those powers. This is just wrong. We sympathise with the plight of trainees, but the SRA simply does not have the power to intervene. This is purely a question of employment law. Trainees may wish to seek the advice of their repsentative body.

    Antony Townsend
    Chief Executive
    SRA

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  • Why would people expect the SRA to become involved? The SRA is not expected to intervene in the redundancies that are taking place at the moment as this is also an employment law issue. At the end of the day the reason for deferring or withdrawing training contracts is the economic downturn. Law firms have to make difficult decisions and they are no doubt aware of the implications in the long term of withdrawing training contract offers now. Are the law firms expected to increase the number of redundancies they make to ensure that they honour their offer of training contracts?

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  • I'm with the SRA on this one. Redundancies are, at the moment, a sad fact of life. The SRA can't protect qualified lawyers (or partners for that matter), so how can it protect trainees?

    City Lawyer

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  • Suing your prospective employer for breach of contract will have more of a detrimental effect on your career than building on any goodwill by deferring.
    My advice would be to think long and hard before refusing to defer - rather than the other way round! And think long and hard if you are thinking about suing - you may be legally right, but age and experience tells me that asserting your rights is not always the most constructive approach.

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  • It is all very well to say for the SRA to say that it is simply an issue of employment law, and that many firms would be in breach of the contract if they force deferrals or withdraw an offer on a training contract etc etc... Realistically, however, how is a trainee supposed to fight this? Having already spent considerable time and effort trying to secure a training contract I for one am reluctant to upset the apple cart by opposing deferrals and threatening legal action against my employers.... who just so happen to be a top corporate law firm!! The SRA should intervene or at least lend some advice and support to those trainees at risk.

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  • Of course it makes sense to defer if you're being provided with compensation - it's consideration for the fact your firm is breaching the contract - but what about those offered no compensation?
    Will Shoosmiths maintain their bullish approach in the face of everyone knowing that they are breaking the law?
    All I want is the market rate of compensation, is that too much to ask?!

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