Part-time training contract?

(32 Posts)
Eliru Thu 21-Feb-13 12:42:16

Has anyone had experience of this?

I completed my LPC while pregnant with ds1, have just had ds2 and thinking about my options for going back to work (in 8 months-1 year).

I really want to qualify as a solicitor but not sure I'm ready to go straight into a full time training contract.

Does anyone know if any firms might offer one part-time? It seems unlikely to me but thought I'd ask around.

Otherwise thinking of looking for part-time paralegal work until ready to go back full time.

Any comments gratefully received!

Hi Eliru

I don't want to put you off but I think it is highly unlikely. In the current market, training contracts are even more of a golddust than usual and the competition very stiff. If you are serious about qualifying, I suspect it will have to be full time.

What sort of firm/law are you looking at?

Also another thing to bear in mind (but maybe it has changed now, not sure). In my days a LPC was only valid for 7 years

Eliru Thu 21-Feb-13 14:13:23

Yes I think you're right. It's hard enough getting a training contract let alone a made to measure one.

I'm looking at small/medium commercial, ideally with the option of 1 seat private client.

I think the GDL now has 7 year shelf life but LPC doesn't expire. I finished 2011 and really don't want 2 hard years studying (and cost!) to go to waste.

What area are you in and how do you manage work/childcare?

I work in corporate commercial law and have three DC. Two go to school the last one to nurseries. Combining family and work is very hard and I am in house (which is a lot easier than law firms) in a family friendly environment.

HappyAsEyeAm Fri 22-Feb-13 08:52:35

Competition for training contracts, everywher, is really intense at the moment. My experience is limited to the magic circle, but as I understand it, its the same everywhere. I am sorry to say that I cannot imagine you being able to get a training contract tailored to fit a part time request. Have you thought about a split training contract ie getting a year in one firm and a year in another? I don't have personal experience of this, but it might be a more flexible option for you.

LindaMcCartneySausage Fri 22-Feb-13 09:11:15

Sorry, I've never heard of anyone doing a part time training contract. If recruited as a trainee solicitor, you are most likely to be part of an intake, even in small firms and they will tailor the training to everyone, who will almost certainly all be full timers.

I only have experience of Magic Circle - although I was a fee earner, I did a lot of interviewing of potential trainees and ran my departmental training programme for the trainees that rotated through my team. I think you'd find it very, very hard to get a training contract at the moment - training contracts are like gold dust and even very small firms are recruiting for 2 years ahead.

As lifeistooshort said, I thought the LPC expired after 7 years. When did you get your LPC? - it sounds like it was a while ago. Even if it doesn't expire, if you are out of law or paralegal for too long, you are (rightly or wrongly) deemed to go stale. That's a Magic Circle view - you may find a more forgiving climate in a less stringent firm. Paralegal experience is very good, but you will be less attractive to firms as a trainee recruit if you haven't worked in legal environment recently.

LindaMcCartneySausage Fri 22-Feb-13 09:18:11

Sorry, just read that you finished LPC in 2011. If you go back to work a year from now as you indicate, you will already have had three + years out of law and it will be difficult to get a training contract. Are you applying for any training contracts at the moment? As I said, many start in a year or two anyway.

Sorry, I feel as though I have been very negative to what, in other professions, may be an entirely reasonable request to train on a part time basis. Law firms are not generally known for their family friendly policies!

CelticPromise Fri 22-Feb-13 12:36:10

You could try smaller firms, maybe legal aid work. Their training tends to be much less structured and organised in my experience! Can't hurt to ask. You would usually get taken on as a paralegal with potential to move on to a TC.

Good luck!

Eliru Fri 22-Feb-13 12:45:54

Grim reading but its what I was expecting to hear.
HappyAsEyeAm - no hadn't heard of split training contracts.
I am planning to apply for 2015 training contacts - many deadlines June/July and some earlier in March.

Have to stay positive and determined, I know they are like gold dust but I have good grades and good work experience just didn't have children at the right time!

I think I will have to bite the bullet and commit to at least 2 years full-time (hopefully in 2015) before being able to negotiate a more family-friendly working schedule.

Scenario 1 would be to successfully get training contract starting 2015 (unlikely I know but possible!) then in the meantime part-time paralegal so am not completely out of the loop when I start.

Scenario 2 if I don't get 2015 training contract would be to apply for part-time paralegal this coming September when ds2 is 8 months then apply for 2016 training contracts.

Words of encouragement please! Or am I still being unrealistic?

Trazzletoes Fri 22-Feb-13 12:51:42

Hi, I work in a regional Legal Aid firm and I don't honestly think you stand much more chance of walking in to a part-time training contract in this field of work than anywhere else.

However, I do know a couple of people who have had part-time training contracts. Both have been due to childcare needs. Both were initially taken on as paralegals and then offered part- time training contracts. I think that getting your foot in the door is likely to be your best bet, but equally don't fancy your chances at getting part-time paralegal work.

Good luck though.

Trazzletoes Fri 22-Feb-13 12:54:22

What kind of work are you looking to do?

If you aren't looking for a city commercial firm you may not have to wait so long - our firm for example recruits trainees as and when they need them - so usually request cvs a couple of months before starting.

CelticPromise Fri 22-Feb-13 15:55:58

I definitely agree that you would do better to get your foot in the door first, prove yourself and then see. You'd probably have to do the research yourself and show them how it could work.

Hello Trazzle didn't realise you were a fellow lawyer!

Trazzletoes Fri 22-Feb-13 18:48:35

Yes for my sins! Very part-time at the moment, but it still counts grin

Trazzletoes Fri 22-Feb-13 18:50:01

Also I only tend to get involved about posts about immigration, which I think other lawyers tend to avoid like the plague!

CelticPromise Fri 22-Feb-13 18:51:59

Very part time here too, criminal defence. Another popular subject!

Eliru Sat 23-Feb-13 01:16:40

Thanks. Encouraging to hear that it has been done. Planned to do commercial or private client but keeping open mind as to what is available and as you say smaller place more likely to be flexible.

I worked in legal aid family part-time while studying and they were really flexible with my hours.

Will just be harder to repay my student loan that way!

MooseBeTimeForCoffee Sat 23-Feb-13 01:39:04

I worked as a paralegal whilst I was studying my LPC part-time, in the days when that meant two evenings a week for two years rather than long weekends like it does now.

This should have given me a reduction in the length of my training contract but the firm I worked for wouldn't honour it.

Mandy21 Sat 23-Feb-13 11:46:49

I also think you'd have difficulty getting a part time training contract - especially when you're targeting a firm that does commercial and private client, you're going to have to look at reasonably sized firms for that.

There are paralegal opportunities around but similarly not necessarily part time - you may well have to commit to full time and then look to reducing hours when they know you. Thats also the best way of finding a training contract - there is so much competition at the moment its scary. I'm a mentor for law graduates / LPC students in the city I work in and so am on the lookout for opportunities to assist them and there seem to be so many people fighting for training contracts at the mo. My firm had 2000 applications for 20 training contracts.

You sound like you are committed though, have good experience and good grades so don't give up.

I think law in general is very anti-part time. My firm - top 50 - does allow part time solicitors but its usually full timers that move to part time hours once returning from maternity leave. Its not looked on particularly favourably as you're not seen as wholly committed. I've been p/t for 7 years now (after returning from maternity leave) so it has worked for my family but career wise, I'm just treading water and I don't think I'll ever be promoted until I increase my hours again. I enjoy my work and it pays relatively well (but not as much as most people think) but if I was in your shoes, I'm not sure I'd be desperate for a career in the law! I'd be looking at other options too - using the legal experience to go into business / management with a legal slant.

Chunderella Sat 23-Feb-13 16:20:14

My friend had a part time TC, 4 days a week, while she was doing the LPC part time. This was in the legal charity sector. She was working there already as an admin assistant with a view to being trained up, then went for the TC they were offering and got it. I tend to agree with other posters that the chances are near enough zero unless you're in the firm already. Law is quite anti part-time, but having said that I was able to negotiate part time for a job I applied for whilst on maternity leave. But it helps that I'm already qualified, in a fairly niche area. Different world altogether trying to get TCs unfortunately.

OP I would think your best bet for part time roles would be in family firms. You're less of an 'unknown quantity' then, you'd be offering good experience. You really need to be offering them something good in order to counterbalance the part time thing. Relevant experience could be the thing you bring to the table. Lots of firms have big family and private client departments, they tend to go quite well together. Family doesn't have to be legal aid, either.

Eliru Sun 24-Feb-13 05:01:02

Yes I like the combination of family and private client.
Scary hearing those numbers Mandy - I guess I'm going into the profession at a pretty bad time - especially when also reading in the papers about the 1700 applicants for 8 jobs at Costa!

Keep thinking if only I had got qualified before Dc's but obvs can't think like that...

Moose I was also hoping that by working as a paralegal could take time off training contract - bad hearing about your experience.

I have seen a few opportunities in firms locally looking for legal assistant or work experience part-time and feel that once I get in somewhere and prove myself it will be easier. There's not much point applying for these yet though as mostly immediate starts and ds2 only 8 weeks but its encouraging to see they are there.

In the meantime I'll start working on training contract applications which will be good practice for now if nothing else!

Trazzletoes Sun 24-Feb-13 08:13:46

Mmm I know a lot of people who did work that could have shortened their training contract but only 1 who managed to get their training contract shortened.

When I was doing my training, firms just didn't like shortening training contracts. I definitely agree that getting known by the firm in advance is your best bet. Good luck with it all!

forgottenpassword Sun 24-Feb-13 08:57:55

Part time paralegal definitely your best option. Make sure you choose a firm or company that is willing to recruit trainees from the paralegals they have. Some wont or say you can't apply for two years. Don't dismiss on house either. Some companies do training schemes or are willing to start them for good people and will often be more flexible. But again they would need to know you through paralegal work first.

CelticPromise Sun 24-Feb-13 09:47:45

I got my training contract shortened, because my firm only did two types of law and I'd worked as a paralegal doing a different area. It saved them sending me on a secondment. No time off for all my crime experience though, that wouldn't have saved them any money!

Mandy21 Sun 24-Feb-13 11:31:58

I agree - my firm won't allow shortening of training contracts only because they have quite alot of trainees and the vacancies etc are planned. The training for the 2 years is planned, so to finish early say 6 months in advance, scuppers those plans. But plenty of smaller firms do and will welcome your experience, so don't worry, its just about doing your research and identifying firms accordingly!

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