Its That Time of Year Again
Philip Jordan - September 2011
As potential trainees frantically scramble to complete their graduate recruitment applications and meet those all-important deadline dates, each is aware that the recruitment process is long and arduous but how many realise that for the vast majority of them, it will end in disappointment? Figures published by the Association of Graduate Recruiters have revealed that the number of applicants for each individual training contract has risen from 35 in 2009/10 to a staggering 65.5 in 2010/11. It appears that the chance of securing a training contract has become more elusive than ever. Be surprised to hear then that the College of Law has recently warned of a potential lawyer shortfall, claiming that training contract vacancies will soon exceed the number of students completing the Legal Practice Course. How can that be? I hear you asking. Well, the theory is that the statistics delivered (always a handy peg to hang a mystery on) focus solely on those graduates coming straight from Law College thus completely ignoring that huge group of applicants that are earlier graduates and who remain without a training contract. Those same statistics it seems also have no sympathy with those serial - appliers who each year send off a new batch of applications to different law firms across the country; they are simply ignored along with those law graduates who have similarly failed to secure a contract and who have now abandoned their aspirations to work in the legal profession. We have no idea as to how many law graduates there are who have yet to find any type of legal employment let alone a training contract but each year this pool of potential candidates continues to grow.
A solution? The most popular seems to be a call to drastically reduce the number of LPC students but in the 1990's when a capping process was mooted by the Law Society there was an outcry from the training providers and the attendant threats of legal action for anti-competitive behaviour soon ended that strategy. Left to market forces of supply and demand, will there be a natural levelling of numbers? At first view it seems unlikely, for as long as there are willing students (or their parents) with money to spend then there will be colleges to take their money from them. A career in the legal profession remains highly attractive and the Law Society should quite rightly encourage rather dissuade students in their aspirations but we must better manage expectations by educating those contemplating a legal career as to the true risks involved in pursuing their time consuming and costly choice. That may well be a solution to end many wasting both?