The legal profession is for everyone
Elizabeth Robertson discusses her own journey into the legal profession and her passion for the law being an accessible and feasible career for everyone.
Charlotte Parkinson, chair of the Junior Lawyers Division, updates members on recent JLD activities and other news likely to be of interest to junior lawyers.
Welcome to the latest JLD chair’s update.
While we find ourselves still in lockdown, the JLD has been continuing to work remotely on its policies and aims for the year. We have continued with our 'Booze Culture' campaign throughout April, written to the SRA on yet another unsettling ethics decision involving a junior lawyer and continued working with the SRA in relation to their development of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. We now finally have the final SQE design from the SRA and we have set out all our concerns in a long letter to the SRA.
Policies aside, we hope that we are offering relevant guidance at this unprecedented time for all our members and, as always, our social media channels are the best and quickest way to ensure you stay on top of JLD news and also find details of events which may be of help. More and more we are seeing webinars being made freely available to help you adapt to this new way of working, whether that be tips on motivation, time management or anxiety. Speaking of free events, we also hope to see as many of you as possible at our free, virtual conference on 20 June 2020 – more on that below!
Please let us know if there is more you would like to see from the JLD on any of its policies, including any COVID-19 related questions, by getting in touch.
Thank you to those of you who have entered our 2020 essay competition. The deadline has now passed and we are in the process of judging the entries. Results will be out soon!
As well as our virtual conference, we are organising a virtual raffle to raise money for our charity of the year, MQ: Mental Health. There's some great prizes up for grabs and it's for such an amazing cause. Find out more and purchase your virtual raffle tickets now.
Finally, we have a new look website. We invite you to head over and check it out – please provide us with any and all feedback as we will pass this on to the web team to ensure the website is as good as it can be for junior lawyers.
Whilst we continue to endure lockdown and adapt to new ways of working, we would encourage junior lawyers who are experiencing changes to their employment situation to read our COVID-19 advice and guidance. This also includes updated guidance on what to do if your training contract is terminated.
The SRA also continues to update its FAQs for junior lawyers facing career uncertainty.
Added to this the Law Society is offering support for your career during the coronavirus pandemic. Has the coronavirus pandemic left your career ailing? Are you now looking for a job or considering opportunities? If you're looking for a new job in these difficult times, you can:
As we inch ever closer to the date on which the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) intends to make its final application for approval of the SQE design to the Legal Services Board (LSB), we've continued to engage with key stakeholders surrounding our outstanding concerns.
We ultimately support the development of a new, centralised assessment in the route to qualification as a solicitor.
However, we still think there are further steps for the SRA to take in relation to:
We also took part in a virtual roundtable organised by the LSB with key individuals from the Justice Select Committee, the SRA and the Law Society. This was a fantastic opportunity to have our concerns heard and to understand the concerns and questions other individuals have.
There's still plenty more to do before the SRA's final application. As always, get in touch with your views or any questions you have on the SQE.
In May we wrote to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) yet again raising concerns about the treatment of junior lawyers appearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). In particular, we noted that junior lawyers are not being adequately protected by the SRA’s approach to enforcement, in that toxic working environments and mental ill-health factors seem to be ignored in favour of pursuing junior lawyers.
As part of our continued work in the mental health and wellbeing space and following publication in January of guidance on adopting a healthy drinking culture, we have now published a series of good practice case studies. The case studies celebrate the good work of the legal profession in relation to fostering a healthy drinking culture. Find out more.
The JLD does, and will, continue to respond to consultations which have relevance for junior lawyers and would welcome any feedback and comments from our members.
At the beginning of 2019, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) began a comprehensive review of criminal legal aid fee schemes. In light of some pressing concerns identified early in the review, the MoJ took the decision to fast-track certain areas of the review:
The consultation closing date has been extended due to current circumstances and the JLD will be providing a response on behalf of our members. See further information about the consultation. If you wish to input into the JLD response, please email us.
We want to hear from you: the JLD requires evidence from junior lawyers working in criminal legal aid about the sustainability crises. We have to provide the MoJ with such evidence in order for it to recommend to government that more funding is desperately needed. We are looking for stories about how the lack of funding is affecting you, your clients or your firm and also any duty solicitor schemes on the brink of extinction. If you are able to share your story with us, whether that be anonymously or not, please email us.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has launched a call for evidence on how legal regulators ensure the professionals they regulate remain competent throughout their careers to protect the public and promote consumer interests. The LSB is asking respondents to consider four themes:
Earlier in the year the SRA consulted on proposals to make minor changes to the principles for two types of lawyers seeking admission in England and Wales after the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is introduced:
We know this is a difficult time for the legal profession and the Law Society is committed to recognising your incredible hard work, expertise and inspiring achievements at its annual Law Society Excellence Awards. The awards are still open for entries, including the Junior Lawyer of the Year award, and want to hear from you. Closing date for entries has now been extended to 26 June 2020.
The JLD is hosting a virtual raffle for its chosen charity of the year - MQ: Transforming mental health. We welcome your support. The draw will be held on 21 June 2020 - find out more.
The Law Society has updated its supervision practice note. This is aimed primarily at solicitors who are responsible for the supervision of another individual in legal practice or employment, but it is also of relevance to any supervised solicitor or trainee who would like to know what they should expect from their supervisor. The guidance includes additional information on COVID-19 and trainees.
The Law Society office in Brussels is offering a trainee solicitor, newly qualified solicitor or paralegal a unique opportunity to undertake a three- to six-month secondment in the Brussels Office commencing in September 2020. The closing date for applications is Sunday 28 June 2020 and interviews will take place the week of 6 July 2020 by phone or video conference.
Are you interested in representing your fellow solicitors on the Law Society Council? If so, consider standing for one of the geographical Council seats in the forthcoming Law Society Council elections. You are eligible to stand if you are a solicitor working in the relevant area or a member of a local law society there.
As the Law Society’s governing body, the Council agrees the strategic direction of the Law Society’s work, including the annual business plan and budget as well as changes to the Law Society policy and rules. As a Council Member, you are also able (and encouraged) to get involved with the work of the Society’s many special interest boards and committees.
The current vacancies relate to a number of geographical seats. The JLD would strongly encourage junior lawyers to apply for them. Of the 61 geographical seats, four are currently occupied by junior lawyers.
The vacancies are in the following constituencies:
The deadline for all nominations is 12pm on Friday 17 July 2020.
The Junior Lawyers Division virtual annual conference is now fully booked but we're operating a waiting list, so please register if you're interested. In the meantime, check out the programme and email us if you have any questions you wish to ask the speakers relating to any of the sessions – whether or not you're able to attend.
If you are looking for a training position check out our latest Q&A:
Adam Hattersley of the JLD executive committee has also written a blog regarding his search for training contracts during the last economic downturn.
You may also wish to visit our dedicated SQE page to learn more about this new route to qualification.
This free online learning zone, developed for you by the Law Society, has been designed to help you navigate your career path.
Whether you’re thinking of changing roles or looking for that next step, the online resource can help you develop your skills and overcome the obstacles you may face in your career.
Check out the series of podcasts aimed at junior lawyers. Topics range from an overview of the SQE and calling time on the booze culture, to whether your firm is attractive to trainees and how lawyers and colleagues can maximise performance and protect their wellbeing in a 24/7 constantly connected world.
The JLD podcast series includes interviews with:
Since the last chair’s update in December the JLD committee has continued to contribute regular features for The Lawyer, the Law Society Gazette and the Solicitors Journal as well as ad hoc articles for other publications.
These features range from topical issues affecting the profession, with a particular focus on junior lawyers, or career development.
We also continue to be approached by the legal media more generally to comment on news items as they break.
Here are a selection of recent articles written by members of the Junior Lawyers Division:
Here are a selection of articles featuring the Junior Lawyers Division:
Members of the JLD can take advantage of offers from T.M. Lewin and The Lawyer Portal by visiting the Law Society's membership offers page.
The JLD is all about its members and their needs. To enable the JLD committee to better represent you, we want to hear from you.
Keep up to date with JLD news by visiting our website and subscribing to the JLD newsletter.
Get in touch at email@example.com or through our social media channels to give us your thoughts, seek our support, or just to connect.