If your training contract is terminated before you’ve qualified as a solicitor this is a difficult situation to be in and you need to know what to do next.
If your training offer has been withdrawn before you start, ask the organisation that made you the offer if they can help you. If they can’t help then you may need to apply to train with another organisation. See our advice on the period of recognised training.
If you’ve started your training but have not completed the required two years, you may still be able to qualify through one of the following routes:
- counting your time spent in training and completing your training with another organisation
- asking the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to waive some or all of the time left on your period of training
- applying to the SRA to qualify through equivalent means
When your training can be terminated
The SRA state that trainee solicitors are common law apprentices, which means that you cannot be terminated as part of a redundancy process. This gives you enhanced protections under employment law and you should have reference to the SRA’s Authorised Training Provider information pack (2019 regulations).
An apprenticeship can only be brought to an end if:
- you and your employer agree
- your training contract is conditional on passing any of the academic stages of qualification or the Legal Practice Course (LPC), and you do not pass
- you are not capable of meeting the Practice Skills Standards
- your conduct is unacceptable the training establishment business has closed or changed so much that it is not possible to properly train you
If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed, you should seek legal advice.
How to qualify if your training is terminated
If your contract is terminated before you finish your training, let the SRA know about your situation. The time you have spent in training may be able to count towards any future period of recognised training, or help you meet the requirements for qualifying though equivalent means.
You should be able to calculate how many months’ training you have completed and should have kept a training record. This record should be verified by the training principal and your supervisors.
If your employer is unable or unwilling to sign off on your experience, you should contact the SRA to resolve the issue.
The SRA has power to waive the requirements of the 2014 Training Regulations. Consider applying to the SRA’s admissions authorisation team to see if some or all of the time left on your training period can be waived.
Finding another training contract
You can take steps to find another training place. Contact your local law society and ask if they know of any firms that may have an opening or be able to help you qualify. They may also be able to tell you about networking opportunities.
If you’ve worked for any other firms before starting your training – even in a paralegal or support position – contact them to see if they can help.
Equivalent means is a way of recognising education and work-based learning that fall outside the normal routes to qualification. It allows you to show other ways you have met either the academic or vocational criteria to qualify as a solicitor.
You’ll need to prove to the SRA that you have skills and experience equivalent to those you would have gained from completing the period of recognised training. This means you must have:
- two years’ experience
- experience of three areas of English and Welsh law
- evidence that your work experience was supervised
Employment law issues
Claiming against your firm
You may be able to claim against your firm for:
- unpaid wages
- payment for your notice period (breach of contract)
- a redundancy payment
You can apply for compensation if you haven't been paid your notice and you have:
- a National Insurance number
- started a redundancy claim
- received your claim reference number
The chances of recovering any compensation will depend on the firm’s financial position. See the government’s guidance on claiming money owed to you if your employer is insolvent.
Protection for employees when a firm is taken over
Where a firm is bought or ‘rescued’ by another, the new firm might be required to take on the old firm’s employees, under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).
However, this is a complex area of law and there are some exemptions to TUPE conditions during insolvency proceedings. You will probably need independent legal advice to tell you whether you have a case.
See the government’s guidance on business transfers, takeovers and TUPE.
Liability for LPC fees
If your LPC fees were to be funded by your employer, whether you will have to pay any unpaid LPC fees depends on:
- if you’ve completed the LPC
- what your contract says about liability for paying the fees
If you’ve not yet completed the LPC, contact your LPC provider to find out if any fees are outstanding and who is responsible for paying them. The LPC provider may not let you complete your course until any outstanding fees have been paid.
If you’ve completed the LPC but fees are outstanding, it is likely that the LPC provider will pursue the firm rather than you. If the firm breaches their contract, leaving you to make the payment, you may have to make a claim through the courts. However, you may not be able to recover any sums that the courts award if the firm is in insolvency proceedings.
Many trainees will be experiencing huge changes to their working environment and increased uncertainty about their training and prospects as a result of COVID-19. We have been working to provide guidance to trainees.
We have also been working closely with the SRA, asking it to clarify arrangements for training and possible extensions. Clear information is now available on the SRA website.
For information on remote supervision, see our blog on supervising trainee solicitors during coronavirus which includes useful advice on managing this change in working arrangements.
The Junior Lawyers Division is our community for LPC students, LPC graduates, trainee solicitors and solicitors up to five years qualified. It has produced advice and guidance on wellbeing, which may be useful if you're experiencing issues with your training.
Get legal advice from an employment solicitor using our Find A Solicitor service.
The SRA can help with equivalent means and regulatory issues.
Law Society helpline
Call our pastoral care helpline if you are experiencing:
- professional, or
- employment difficulties
We’ll put you in touch with someone who can help.
020 7320 5795
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm