A number of firms have cut work for their trainees, blaming the impact of the coronavirus.
Midlands firm Geldards has furloughed trainees "leaving us all out in the cold with little information about when we will be able to qualify and no support", said one. "To top it off they are not topping our wages up, leaving us in a difficult financial position. We are only paid the Law Society minimum anyway and now we’re getting even less. This is no way to treat trainees."
A spokesman for the firm said it had retained one trainee, but would not divulge the number of trainees furloughed. He said the decision was made because "the disruption to all levels of legal staff meant that we would not be able to guarantee the level of supervision required for all the trainees". He added that the "immediate reduction in work that is occurring in all law firms and businesses at present" meant there was insufficient work to keep trainees sufficiently occupied. He said the trainees and all affected staff had consented to furlough.
"We are currently seeking to clarify and communicate to all trainees how this situation will impact on qualification and how their training contract will progress moving forward," he said. "Our aim is to ensure that all trainees qualify as planned but given the overall uncertainty in general surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic, no organisation is able to provide complete guarantees".
What the trainees might get up to instead.
The firm was unable to provide guarantees on pay, as the spokesman said the consultation was "still ongoing" and no decision had been made regarding top up pay for trainees. But he said that it was incorrect that they were paid the Law Society minimum.
An insider at Scottish firm Morton Fraser told RollOnFriday that the firm furloughed its 20 trainees. When RollOnFriday asked about the trainees being furloughed, a spokeswoman replied in full voice "Our first priority is the health of our staff and we are doing everything we can to support them. We have furloughed 11 trainees on full pay and will continue to offer them all the support we can".
But mystery surrounds the other trainees at the firm. When RollOnFriday asked "And what about the other 9?" the spokeswoman remained silent, apparently opting to self-isolate, rather than respond.