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New traineeship model addresses recruitment challenges

20 September 2011

A new training contract model launched this week promises to help firms and candidates encountering recruitment difficulties in the current economic climate by matching recruiters and applicants in a more flexible framework.

Set up by former Hogan Lovells lawyer Susan Cooper, Acculaw will act as a clearing house for law firms seeking trainees without the traditional drawback of managing a two-year contract directly.

“There is pressure on law firms to outsource to low-cost jurisdictions, which, combined with the recession, means there is greater volatility in the trainees recruitment market,” Cooper told Solicitors Journal.

Previous recessions saw a drop in the number of qualified lawyers as firms cut back on training, leading to a shortage of skills when the economy picked up.

Her service, she said, would help retain skilled lawyers in the UK and ensure there would be an adequate supply of qualified lawyers when the economy recovers.

Acculaw is not a law firm; it has been approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as an authorised training establishment. The organisation will recruit trainees who will be seconded to law firms under a service contract but it remains responsible for ensuring SRA training requirements are met.

Firms must commit to a minimum number of months that trainees will be seconded to them. This will depend on the size of the firm but typically Acculaw trainees will be working for client firms or in-house departments for a minimum of three to six months, according to Acculaw.

Smaller firms and in-house departments with lower needs will have the option to join a consortium of similar firms sharing a pool of trainees.

The commitment to trainees is that secondments will be for a minimum of three months but are more likely to be for six months or more. Firms that sign up must also treat Acculaw trainees as they would their own and offer the same levels of training and supervision.

Acculaw says it aims to make firms consider its trainees for post-qualification positions on a par with the firm’s own trainees.

Cooper is assisted by Peters and Peters’ partner Anand Doobay as training principal responsible for monitoring trainees’ progress and that all regulatory requirements are complied with.

Acculaw’s advisory board includes Robert Dow, former Slaughter & May lawyer and founder of the Practical Law Company, CASS business school professor Peter Giblin, former Herbert Smith partner Henry Raine, and professional development specialist Amber Moore.

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Education & Training