Editor’s weekly: All’s fair in love and law

Yes that’s right you’ve guessed it – this week it’s not so much Editor’s Weekly but more reporter’s weekly as I write my first ever newsletter for Lawyer 2B!

But oh what a week it has been. Just when we thought we had edited the last comment on the much debated Shoosmiths’ deferral saga, the firm’s CEO Paul Stothard announced that he would be stepping down and passing the baton onto the firm’s first female chief Claire Rowe (see story).

Although spin doctors at Shoosmiths deny the bungled trainee deferral episode had anything to do with Stothard’s move, many of our readers think otherwise.

One reader posted; “At last, common sense prevails. The way that the trainees at Shoosmiths have been treated is nothing short of appalling and is something I’ve not seen in many years in law.”

However, after going along to a recruitment fair at BPP Law School recently and speaking with the plethora of desperate looking LPC students, I started to think that Shoosmiths’ future starters were not the ones with the real worries, after all at least they have training contracts.

Literally hundreds of would-be lawyers without that elusive training contract came flooding through the LPC provider’s doors with faces etched with panic.

As they hadn’t been lucky enough to secure training contracts they were desperately looking for some paralegal work to bolster their already slim-looking CVs.

But as soon as they got to the recruiters’ stands they were bluntly told that the small number of paralegal positions they did have left were going straight to trainees who had been deferred this year (see story).

Meanwhile, exclusive research by Lawyer 2B has shown that many top City firms have slashed the number of paralegals they are hiring.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, for example, has cut its paralegal ranks by nearly 30 per cent – from 94 in 2008 down to 66 this year – while Linklaters has slashed its paralegal workforce by 23 per cent from 43 to 33.

So not only do the deferred trainees have the promise of a training contract and a several thousands of pounds to boot, they also a much greater chance of gaining a stint of paralegaling experience to add to their already bulging CVs.

Now where is the fairness in that?