Veale Wasbrough Vizards has threatened to take three of its trainees to court if they do not each repay it £9,000.
The trainees, who were in the same intake, all left VWV this year when it couldn't offer any of them their first choice seats. The Bristol-based firm, which pays its Bristol trainees a salary of £23,000, is understood to have issued a debt claim against one of the trainees and, said a source, "seems intent on taking all of them to court".
VWV is understood to be calling on a clause in its training contract which requires trainees to repay their LPC fees if they do not accept an offer of a post-qualification job at the firm. Such clauses are not unheard-of and can require trainees to remain for up to two years post-qualification. They are intended to ensure that firms benefit from the solicitors they've trained up by preventing them from moving immediately to a competitor.
VWV describes itself as providing “a friendly welcome for new employees”, but, said a source, "they stay quiet about the boot up the backside when you're leaving". Although the firm's website does also state that, "From your first day at VWV you'll experience the firm's strong commitment to developing all our staff to reach their full potential". The trainees just didn't appreciate how strong the commitment was, extending all the way to putting them on trial.
Sarah Cook, VWV's Director of HR, told RollOnFriday, “We are unable to discuss details relating to particular individuals. We can however confirm that the firm offers sponsorship for LPC studies as part of our long term investment in trainees." She said, "The terms of our sponsorship agreement are clearly spelt out to all trainees before they sign up".