Junior lawyers unite to fight trainee redundancies

Three junior lawyers associations have joined forces to form a united front against trainee redundancies.

Judith Perkins

Judith Perkins

The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD), the Scottish Young Lawyers Association (SYLA) and the Northern Irish Young Solicitors Association (NIYSA) have recently begun discussions about this issue following the SYLA’s decision in 2009 to obtain legal opinion from a senior counsel on the legality of making a trainee solicitor redundant.

Former JLD chair Judith Perkins said: “It’s yet to be determined what the next steps in tackling this issue will be, but one thing is clear; this is the first time that the three national young lawyer organisations will adopt a united position on matters affecting young lawyers throughout the UK.”

The JLD has confirmed it will likely have a two-fold response to the issue.

The first will be a message to firms that attempting to terminate a training contract when a commitment has been made to an individual, and the individual has invested significant time and finances, is morally wrong and potentially unlawful.

The second is to offer practical assistance to those members of the JLD affected by trainee redundancies.

Perkins explained that the issue was pushed forward in part with the advent of alternative business structures, as concerns were raised that external ownership of law firms by profit-driven entities may lead to an increase in trainee redundancies.

“We could see less lucrative departments being culled, or the relatively high cost of training appearing unattractive when weighed against the option of hiring paralegals instead,” Perkins added. “Of course, this is all still speculation at this stage, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t take note of our members’ concerns.”