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!

racmun Thu 07-Mar-13 23:20:56

As a solicitor 6yrs pqe in commercial
Property who is now a SAHM I am amazed by anyone who manages to work as a fee earner and have a family life.

Most law firms expect ridiculous hours and almost frown upon you if you want to leave on time let alone early or work 4 days (in which vase you do 5 days work in 4)

The stress I experienced being a solicitor in a large regional firm in the south east was too much to face going back to. I don't think there is any easy option as an area for law - clients are demanding and firms expect you to service the clients- you are the clients bitch. I never cocked up on anything but a couple of colleagues were literally marched out the office for messing up and the firm being sued- as a solicitor you can't just have an off day and make a mistake - you end up being sued for being negligent.

Think long and hard

Murtette Wed 27-Feb-13 22:37:04

One of my friends did do a part time TC but not part time as you're thinking of it (i.e. less than 5 days a week) but part time in that he did 6 months, had 6 months off etc so his TC took 4 years in total.
We have had trainees who, for health reasons (ME, arthritis), have ended up being part time but it wasn't scheduled part time hours but ad hoc depending on how they were feeling.

Eliru Tue 26-Feb-13 16:47:18

Agree Chunderella no point thinking about how things could be different - just got to get on with it!

Yes legal aid cuts concerning but hopefully will manage to find somewhere with a broad enough range of seats available to train in.

Thanks for all the posts btw, really appreciated.

MooseBeTimeForCoffee Sun 24-Feb-13 15:23:42

I'd be concerned with the changes in legal aid that a TC in a family oriented firm would be even harder to come by now. Some of my former colleagues are being made redundant.

Chunderella Sun 24-Feb-13 13:06:12

I don't think people are saying family law is intrinsically better suited to PT, although when I did my TC family law seat, one of the solicitors did a 3 day week. It's just that in asking for PT, you're already asking the employer to think outside the box. If you're asking for it in an area you've not worked in, you're asking them to go even more out on a limb. Whereas if you already have experience, you're a safer pair of hands. You only need them to cross one bridge rather than two. If OP had paralegalled in a private client firm and was interested in moving into family, the same would apply.

imnot Sun 24-Feb-13 12:50:11

I don't know why people think family law will be more appropriate for p-t work. The hours can be long and stressful and as it is litigation based there are court deadlines you have to work to. TCs are like gold dust at the moment and at my firm we have so many applicants that I imagine anyone seeking a p-t TC would have no chance. I agree that you'd be far better off getting into a firm by doing paralegal or secretarial work and then applying for a TC and trying to negotiate p-t hours once you've got it, or simply applying for a f-t TC and accepting that you'll work f-t for 2 years and then try and negotiate p-t hours once you've qualified, and proved yourself.

Chunderella Sun 24-Feb-13 12:27:03

Definitely agree. OP it sounds like you'd be best identifying firms that do both family and private client and targeting them. And make a business case for a part timer- especially if you're willing to accept a relatively low salary. When you're part time, even a few thousand doesn't add that much to your monthly pay packet- especially considering the nil rate tax band will soon be raised again. And no point faffing over how things could've been different, you are where you are full stop.

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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!

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

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

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 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.

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.

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?

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!

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!

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