Students say “No” to ABSs

Nearly 70 per cent of Lawyer2B readers who responded to a recent poll would not want to work for an alternative business structure (ABS).

In answer to the question, ‘ABS Knights Solicitors has pronounced the traditional trainee model ‘dead’. Do you agree?’, 67 per cent of readers believed that ABS and apprenticeships would never have the prestige of the traditional trainee model.

Under 7 per cent thought that ABS were the future of the legal industy and planned to join one (6.8 per cent). A more pragmatic section of the readership, 26 per cent, said that they would be glad of a job, whether it’s a trainee at a firm or an apprentice at an ABS.

Knights Solicitors managing partner David Beech has claimed that the traditional training model is “dead” because it continues to teach students in the same way it did 30 years ago (15 April 2013).

“Students today are being taught the same way I was taught 30 years ago and the legal system is not the same as it was then,” Beech told The Lawyer. “The sector has changed. It will continue to change dramatically in the next 10 years and the training system needs to reflect that.”

“It’s about helping people to launch their careers in a progressive way,” he continued. “While qualification is delayed, the paralegals qualify when they’re actually ready to do the job. The current training contract squeezes too much into two years.”

Beech also argued that the traditional training model locks firms into expensive two-year contracts with people they have never worked with before.

“What business sense is there in hiring someone for two years who you do not know at all?” asked Beech. “We train our lawyers through an apprenticeship scheme and this way we get to know who they are and who we are investing in. On top of this they are often dedicated to a specific client and so get to know that client and the relevant work inside out.”

A trial by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has found that paralegals have the same level of competence as final-seat trainees (18 April 2013).