Clifford Chance has made the trainees’ litigation seat optional for the first time. From March next year, the firm will implement a new scheme allowing trainees to bypass litigation providing they take a week-long course supplied by Nottingham Law School and participate in the firm’s pro bono scheme.
The new scheme is a response to long-running problems experienced by the firm’s litigation, department in accommodating trainees for a three or six-month seat. London managing partner of litigation, Jeremy Sandelson said: “We had a problem with the number of trainees and the number of spaces in the department. We also recognise that not everyone wants to qualify into litigation.”
The move echoes that of Linklaters, which has dispensed with its ‘short seat’ in the litigation department.
Linklaters introduced the six-week ‘short seat’ in litigation several years ago, aimed at providing contentious experience for trainees with ambitions to qualify into corporate or finance.
The new programme is run at the College of Law’s Legal Advice Centre at its Store Street branch and takes place over five weeks, marrying litigation training with pro bono work.
Trainees are supervised in two groups of eight, advising on cases before the leasehold valuation tribunal and the rent assessment committee.
Linklaters litigation head Christopher Style said: “Litigation is a key element of our offering. Does it represent a relatively small percentage of the practice? Yes. But the idea of our people participating in advising real people on real problems is terrific.”