10 December 2018

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.

vin
"DON'T. MOVE. FIRM."

 

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".

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Comments

Archibald 14 Dec 18

wow what a retarded approach ...if you are worrying about LPC fees that you werent going to recoup anyway cant imagine how long you have left! 

Anon 14 Dec 18

They've always been a tight when it comes to money. I knew a paralegal in their London office earning peanuts and after 2 years had to fight for a 1% payrise.

Boney M 14 Dec 18

They should use the HRD's statement as their trainee recruitment slogan:  "We'll pay your fees, but don't you ever try and **** us"

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

Unenforceable restraint of trade. No chance. Also going to court of it will cost them an arm and a leg for minimal recovery even if it were a trainee who left midway. Even if a trainee, forget NQ, left they wouldn't have to repay despite what firms want people to think. Are they going to litigate over it. How does that look. And if a trainee left midway they'd make all kinds of allegations with respect to their training which would be next to impossible to defend since most firms all give piss poor training and provide little to no management training for supervisors who have little to no interpersonal skills to begin with. 

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

The wording of the article is unclear. It says the trainees were "not offered their first choice seats" which sounds like they quit whilst on rotation, during their TC. Later it says a clause their TC "requires trainees to repay their LPC fees if they do not accept an offer of a post-qualification job at the firm" which makes it sound like they are refusing to accept a job on qualification. In my view, the two circumstances are very different so it needs clearing up (anyone work for VWV and know these trainees?!) Quitting your TC half way through because you haven't been offered your preferred seat is not cool, and you should absolutely have to pay back your LPC fees. On the other hand, choosing to move firms at the end of your TC because your current employer can't offer you a job in your preferred department, is fair enough. Somebody clear this up!

Anonymouse 14 Dec 18

“choosing to move firms at the end of your TC because your current employer can't offer you a job in your preferred department, is fair enough” - this is the situation 

SRR 14 Dec 18

I may well be the only one here who agrees with the firm here. The firm agrees to sponsor you through the LPC, you agree to take a job with them if offered and stay there for X years. If the firm didn't make an offer of a job, there wouldn't be an issue. What has clearly happened is that the firm offered them a job, which they declined, and moved to a competitor. A requirement that the job offered be in their "first choice" role makes no sense from a business perspective and is ripe to be gamed by the trainee, waiting to see where there are no jobs and then saying that is their first choice. If you don't like the terms offered, take a training contract elsewhere, if you can. If you can't, then you make your choice as an intelligent adult. The reality is that trainees are expensive to train, but NQs very profitable to recruit at the point they qualify. Its therefore entirely legitimate to protect the investment, as there are more people in the market for qualified solicitors than there are people prepared to train them.

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

'The fact that you've got 'Replica' written down the side of your training contract, and the fact that I've got 'Desert Eagle .50' written on the side of mine...'

ANON 14 Dec 18

Dodgy shop by the sounds of it, spent a week on vac scheme there once, glad I swerved the job offer

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

SRR I disagree with your position completely. The department you qualify in is usually the department you stay practicing in for the remainder of your career (with some exceptions, of course). Those who do choose to move practice area after qualifying tend to face obstacles/challenges/financial set backs (often a salary reduction, whilst they gain the requisite experience in their "new" area). If the trainees' first choice seat was not available, they absolutely should not be made to accept second choice, just to stay at VWV.

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

@SRR   What, you don't think firms make money off trainees? Ridiculous. A fee earner is a fee earner.

Gobblepig 14 Dec 18

SRR, you're a berk. This clause is designed to prevent the firm from losing a valuable investment by forcing people to qualify into departments they would otherwise not wish to join by threatening them with what for any NQ (never mind a niggardly-paid Vizards one) would be a crippling sanction for leaving, but one which bears no relation to the firm's actual loss (because no doubt the firm will have spent a large amount on training them over the two years, but the initial £9,000 LPC fee it will have recouped within the first six months of training at most unless the firm really is specacularly shit). It is, by definition, an unenforceable penal clause, as it is not a genuine pre-estimate of loss. Your comment on gaming makes no sense and, when considered with your rather churlish and reality-impoverished remarks about training contract choice, mark you out as a rather unempathetic person with a second-rate mind. 

Gobblepig 14 Dec 18

ANON 14 Dec 18 Dodgy shop by the sounds of it, spent a week on vac scheme there once, glad I swerved the job offer   Dear ANON, It's HR from Vizards calling. Hope you're well. Guess you didn't notice the clause in your vac scheme contract that said that we could sue you for the £3.50 that we paid you if you subsequently turned down the offer of a training contract. Please send a cheque as soon as, because partner year-end drawings are coming up and we could use the money. Toodle pip! Yours in Christ,   VWV

Anonymous 14 Dec 18

From a slightly different angle to the previous comments, I wonder if VWV reimburse trainees who funded the LPC themselves.  I paid for my own LPC, from which I graduated in 2013, by way of a "law loan".  I still have the best part of 25% of the original value of the law loan to repay some 5 and a half years later!

Anon 19 Dec 18

Very poor judgment from this firm.   It looks appallingly tight to be chasing £9,000 and it is awful PR for the firm.  It couldn’t offer the NQs their dept of choice so expects them to sacrifice their career interests to qualify into areas that they don’t want to practise.  It’s an unfair term that restrains common law trade on the face of it so I’d like to know whether the firm brought this very onerous clause to the attention of its trainees.    It may be that the firm is using bully boy tactics to force a part settlement.    And after all this it only paid £23k to trainees!   Surely any small financial benefit they obtain from this ludicrous strategy will be lost by all the trainees who won’t apply      

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