Trainees at DLA Piper have lambasted the firm for a change in policy which means that regional trainees are paid less than London trainees when sent on international secondment. 

Before July this year, the firm's policy was that all UK trainees who went on international secondment were paid the London trainee wage. Pay was therefore uplifted for those from the regions going on secondment. A DLA trainee told RollOnFriday that this was "considered necessary" as working in the overseas offices could be difficult for those still paying mortgages back in the UK if they didn't get the uplift.

However, DLA's grad rec team has now announced to trainees that there is no more uplift. A disgruntled DLA trainee said this "flies directly against the DLA 'One UK' policy".  And RollOnFriday has been told by an insider at a similar sized law firm that all of its trainees, City or regional, are paid the same wage when they work on an international secondment. 

It is not known whether those individuals from regional offices who were sold the expat life in DLA's offices such as Dubai, New York, Singapore or Hong Kong will now be considering whether to supplement their lifestyle by becoming crack mules on the side to survive.

The regional trainee was absolutely fine with his City peer adding a bottle of Petrus to the order  

A DLA spokeswoman confirmed to RollOnFriday that the change in policy was due to a new international programme being implemented by the firm. However, she added that all trainees sent abroad receive a number of benefits including travel and baggage costs for relocation, serviced accommodation withing walking distance to the office, medical insurance and a tax-free daily allowance.  

And one of the disgruntled trainees who was upset at the new policy did accept that the secondments provide "a fantastic opportunity" to work in "great overseas offices" adding that perhaps the complaint "may seem petty in the grand scheme of things". 
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 10 August 18 09:45

Oh boo boo! Six months on lower pay than London. Imagine working for Eversheds and having our regional hours bonus scheme sliced in half to give London lawyers an 18% pay rise because "the London market is so hot right now." Some of us regularly maxed it out and treated it not as a bonus but part of salary.

Anonymous 10 August 18 10:12

Whilst none of this reflects terribly well on DLA, what's galling is that the change was only disclosed to the trainees after we had applied for, and been offered the secondments.

Anonymous 10 August 18 10:50

The new policy seems a lot more generous than when I did my secondment at DLA. I was chucked the keys to a dusty flat and told to put in an ex's claim for my travel. Brilliant thing to do, though.

Anonymous 10 August 18 11:08

Couple of things this disgruntled DLA trainee failed to mention. They still get given some money for living costs and their rent is paid for whilst on an international secondment. They should just be grateful that they have been given the opportunity to go on an international secondment, not all trainees or indeed lawyers get such a great experience. Just because their "London salary" doesn't cover their rooftop parties, pool parties, brunch parties and boat parties in Dubai is no reason to feel disgruntled. You want London salary? Move to London.

Anonymous 10 August 18 11:27

Aw, you got a free opportunity to live, work in and explore a different part of the world, and a pay rise wasn't added? Look, look at all the tears I'm shedding.

Anonymous 10 August 18 11:31

to some extent, what 10,08 sed. they will have accommodation and transport costs covered. I wouldn't go so far to presume the parties mentioned are worth consideration in comment on this news article.

Those lucky enough to escape the provinces should be grateful and willing to pay for the opportunity, despite not actually having to pay anything at all.

Anonymous 10 August 18 11:32

In essence, they could before leverage the fact they went abroad to earn more money that due (London £ instead of regions £), and now they protest because they cannot any longer.
The gift was "justified", apparently, by the fact that "working in the overseas offices could be difficult for those still paying mortgages back in the UK": All this when City trainees will not be able to afford a mortgage up to 3/4 PQE.
It is really hard for me to see where the firm is wrong here.

Anonymous 10 August 18 12:29

Is the point that living costs in a lot of the international secondment locations are high? Less of an issue when already used to paying for a London lifestyle, but more so when one is used to strolling into a pub in Leeds and buying a pint with a lump of coal.

Anonymous 10 August 18 14:27

Its kind of bizarre that people are jumping all over this with - look at the lack of tears i'm shedding, and not a peep when the Tarquins at Magic Circle firms are crying into their Hermes hankies because the US lawyers are being paid so much more?

Bit of a North/South divide.

Anonymous 10 August 18 17:31

on the face of it, what is wrong is that you have 2 people doing exactly the same job for 6 months and one of them is paid more than the other by virtue of where they have been seconded from. If there were more regional female trainees than male trainees and more male london trainees than regional trainees - this might be enough for a discrimination claim.

The problem with what DLA has done is in the messaging. You need to steer changes in this sort of thing carefully and be clear that people understand what is going on - as it impacts them.

Anonymous 10 August 18 20:33

"and not a peep when the Tarquins at Magic Circle firms"

Chippy much? Nice line of (a) class snobbery and (b) lack of grip on reality there. By all means though, tell yourself you didn't get a TC at an MC firm because of where you're from if it makes you feel better.

Anonymous 10 August 18 23:02

The cost of living in Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore is not the same as it is in Liverpool, Leeds or Edinburgh. This is just the firm being tight, and taking advantage of a disparity that doesn't translate when the trainees are in these locations. For the 6 months that's in it the firm should provide an equal living wage to these guys when they're there. In my experience the seconded trainees work their guts out while because the firm is usually understaffed with quality juniors in these locations. So they have the odd boat party or brunch thrown in. So what. If you can't understand why a person would be demoralised by this then you lack any empathy.

Anonymous 11 August 18 11:18

Agree with anon 16.31.

Having two people working side by side doing the same job for different money is a huge recipe for dissatisfaction.

Any justification for paying less to those in the regions ceases to apply when they cease to be working in the regions.

Anonymous 14 August 18 10:51

A number of the countries / cities trainees are sent to are significantly more expensive than London. You cant buy a sandwich in Dubai for less than £12 let alone get a drink. Seems unbelievably discriminatory for the London trainees to live the high life and have the regional ones sat at home missing a night out because they can't afford it crying at the fact an avocado is going to set you back at least £4.

Anonymous 12 February 19 06:43

This may be a classic “first world problem” issue, but ultimately we’re on a site for legal professionals so I’m not sure what people were expecting...

I think it’s disingenuous to draw comparisons to pay disparities between lawyers at different firms or even different offices at the same firm. The issue these people have raised is not that they should be paid the same as their London colleagues full stop, and it certainly wouldn’t hold much sway if they were. 

The point is that every single one of us would be extremely put out to learn that someone with the same experience, working in the same office and doing the exact same job were receiving towards twice the pay. Anyone who says otherwise is either being disingenuous or purposefully stirring the pot. This is why it is entirely reasonable that most firms equalise the pay trainees receive when they go on secondment from different offices - what is being asked for should not be and generally isn’t even remotely controversial.

I was previously fortunate enough to sit in my firm’s Singapore office during my training contract, and I can say from experience that, like Abu Dhabi or Dubai, it would be difficult to subsist on a regional salary in such an expensive city, and it is flagrantly unfair that one DLA trainee could be socialising with the broader secondee group and using this once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the city and the wider region while another sits at home for lack of funds.