Only 54 per cent of paralegals believe that their work has helped them to secure a training contract, reveals a report released today by the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) of the Law Society.
The JLD surveyed 630 prospective lawyers in August of this year. Six in every ten respondents of the survey had undertaken paralegal work, compared to 45 per cent of respondents in 2013.
Just over half (55 per cent) had paralegalled for more than one year. The main reasons for becoming a paralegal were to gain more experience (84 per cent), to help secure a training contract (77 per cent), for the income (68 per cent), to get into a firm (56 per cent) and because they could not secure a training contract (45 per cent).
While just over half, 54 per cent, of respondents who had paralegalled believed that their job had helped them to secure a training contract, 44 per cent felt that it did not advance their career.
Would-be lawyers do not believe that unpaid work experience is nearly as helpful in securing a permanent role as it is portrayed: while 70 per cent of prospective solicitors believed that unpaid work would boost their employment prospects, fewer than one in two felt the same after their experience.
Worse, one third of respondents said that unpaid work experience had pushed them further into debt.
Of the 630 people who completed the survey, 79 per cent had undertaken unpaid work experience.
The top reason for engaging in unpaid work experience was to gain more experience (91 per cent of respondents), followed by being able to list work on a CV (77 per cent), to help secure a training contract (72 per cent) and to make sure law was the right career choice (48 per cent).
The duration of unpaid work experience varied between respondents, with 37 per cent undertaking less than one month’s work, 30 per cent working for between one and three months, 23 per cent working over six months and 3 per cent working for no salary for more than two years.
When it came to how much debt from fees students had accrued personally, 11 per cent spent more than £30,000 while 38 per cent said that they had spent more than £25,000 but less than £30,000. A further 23 per cent responded that they had spent between £20,001 and £25,000 while 16 per cent had spent between £15,001 and £20,000. Nearly one fifth (17 per cent) spent between £5,001 and £15,000 and just 6 per cent claimed to have spent less than £5,000.