Co-op legal scales back training contract targets

cooperative legal services

From Roll on Friday 18/10/13:

Co-operative Legal Services has admitted that it will be unable to reach its target of providing 100 training contracts a year.

Yikes. That’s a lot of training contracts (suddenly not happening).

CLS, which is the legal branch of the Co-operative, announced only last year that it planned to take on more trainees than any Magic Circle firm: 100 a year within just five years. But students who signed up for expensive law courses thinking that this heralded an upturn in the grad rec market should have saved their money.

Whoa. Hang on a second. Since when did the average law student become the proverbial moron in a hurry (actually, don’t answer that!)? Any law student (current or prospective) should have their eyes wide open when considering their career and they shouldn’t be mollycoddled or forgiven for naivetĂ© if they plan on a career in law thinking it’s still the gravy-train it once was. Let’s face it: there’s plenty of doom-mongering and tales of unemployment woes out there for any ignorance to be utterly inexcusable.

Let’s stop treating law students like morons. They know what the chances are of their careers panning out perfectly (or they damn well should do). Give them a little credit.

The Lawyer reports that after a bad year for the Co-op, only ten trainees were taken on in this year's intake.

A spokeswoman for the Co-op told RollOnFriday that said that the numbers might increase in future, but "we are focussing our efforts on our learning academy". In other words, filling its ranks with loads of cheap paralegals rather than investing in training the solicitors of the future.

Sadly, that seems to be what every law firm is doing at the moment. Pity the poor trainee solicitor, I say. They’re a dying breed (soon to be made extinct if we carry on at this rate).

I once overhead someone say that a paralegal is to a solicitor what a processed fish stick is to caviar. I’m not going to attribute that statement to anybody in particular, but they know who they are. (I’m sure they go home and cry themselves to sleep at night.) Whilst no one can doubt the value, skills and knowledge of paralegals out there, I find the notion of a mass ousting of solicitors in favour of an army of paralegals a rather worrying prospect.

At any rate, if this paralegal invasion continues at its current rate, the whole structure of the profession is going to quickly change beyond all recognition. It follows, then, that legal education, qualifications and vocational training is going to need a massive re-think before it’s too late.

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