21 Jan 2016

For paralegals seeking training contracts, it's all in the firm

A recent survey has shown a huge disparity between firms in the proportion of training contracts they award each year to paralegal employees.

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If you're an Allen & Overy paralegal hoping for a training contract, don't hold your breath. A recent survey conducted by Lawyer 2B magazine has ranked the law firm on the lowermost rung of its ladder of UK firms who recruited new trainee lawyers from their paralegal teams last year. Only 1 per cent of Allen & Overy's trainee intake for 2015 had undertaken paralegal work with the firm before being offered a training contract. The magic circle giant is not alone in recruiting trainees almost exclusively from outside of the paralegal pool, with several other large City firms recording paralegal-to-trainee intake proportions below 10 per cent. These include Norton Rose Fulbright and Ashhurst, which each took just 5 per cent of trainees from their paralegal workforce, and Baker & McKenzie, which took 7 per cent.

Approaches vary

It is common practice for large law firms to make clear to paralegal recruits that there is no guaranteed thoroughfare to a trainee position via the paralegal department. However, some big name firms are bucking the trend. City player Trowers & Hamlins recruited 40 per cent of trainees from its own paralegal workforce last year, while Bircham Dyson Bell and DAC Beachcroft awarded an impressive 80 per cent and 60 per cent of their respective training contracts to paralegal employees in 2015. One firm, Roythornes, achieved a 100 per cent paralegal recruitment rate, hiring all 14 of the new trainees it brought on board last year exclusively from its pool of 30 paralegal workers. Sources: Legal Cheek; Lawyer 2B

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