Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What do I do if my training contract is cancelled?

What do I do if my training contract is terminated?

This started to happen a few years ago when some crime firms were struggling following new reforms by the Legal Services Commission. When a firm got into difficulties or thought they were about to the first thing they did was to terminate training contracts.

Another scenario is when firms in recent times have trainee Solicitors due to start 12 months or 24 months in the future and then realise that their finances are not going to permit it. Training contracts are withdrawn and suddenly someone who had made a firm decision to join one particular firm and turned down others finds that they no longer have any training contracts to choose from at all.

The first thing to do is not to panic if this happens to you, quite a lot of the time over the years we have seen Trainee Solicitors who have training contracts terminated walk into another post within a few months. Other firms who are still in business or not struggling financially see the benefit of having someone part of the way through their term as it saves them the time of training them up and also the length of time it will take before they qualify.

It is a very stressful time as everyone who is striving to be a Solicitor struggles incessantly to get a training contract and then has to spend two years in what are usually fairly undignified circumstances being bossed about by everybody only to find out halfway through that it could be that they have to start again or find someone else prepared to take them on.

If you are informed by your firm that this is likely to happen the first port of call must be the Law Society, as far as I can remember the Law Society are the only ones who can agree to the ending of a training contract.

Obviously they are not going to insist that a firm pay you to keep you on if the firm have no money or are about to cease trading, but they may ask for documentary evidence from the firm that this is indeed the case.

If your training contract is withdrawn by a firm before you were due to start (and this happened in quite a lot of city firms for example in 2000-2002) then start looking immediately regardless of how the firm who have indicated the withdrawal put it to you. Sometimes it is simply indicated that they may not be able to offer you a contract and they put you on notice. If this happens then I would strongly advise looking around for something else and that you are in a position to have a back-up plan should the first one go pear shaped. Again, speak to the Law Society and also to the Trainee Solicitors group, they’ll be able to give you advice.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly commentates and writes on the state of the legal profession nationally and internationally. You can contact Jonathan at or telephone 0207 127 4343.

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