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. 

Tip Off ROF


lol 03 April 20 09:50

Jesus, that's harsh.  Even purely from a financial perspective (ignoring all the other negatives associated with treating your trainees this way), unless they do have no work to do, this seems like a bad decision.  Trainees are a cheap and useful resource from a processing perspective.

Anon 03 April 20 10:04

Trainees really aren’t cheap.  

Even on a modest salary, they cost over a hundred thousand a year and in that time will bill little.  Also it’s not helping a trainee to go to a firm and do admin. 

Anonymous 03 April 20 10:15

Also, furloughed on full pay. Unlike thousands of other people in the UK who have lost their jobs and income completely. 

Furloughed trainee 03 April 20 10:31

I was recently furloughed by my firm along with my entire trainee cohort. The financial aspect is not an issue for me (I am paid the bare minimum salary anyway) but what was is the fact I’m writing off at least 5 weeks, but more likely 8, of my traineeship. Doubt my team’s work will pick up to the same standard before I qualify in summer. Makes me nervous that I may be competing for qualified jobs against trainees from firms who didn’t need to furlough them or not during the seats when they were getting good, quality work (as I finally was).  

Such is life I suppose. I’m grateful I should still be qualifying on the same date per Law Society advice. 

Person 03 April 20 12:49

Freeths are furloughing 120 odd people starting from Monday.

They’re topping up to 100% of salary for the first 3 weeks, then re-assessing it. 


Anonymous 03 April 20 14:50

Law firms obsessed with money grabbing, cutting corners and screwing staff over? Never heard the like of it!

Anonymous 06 April 20 18:45

Furlouging of facilities team at my shop.


I got canned today as too expensive and on probation. Happening to other fee earners on probation. 

Anon 08 April 20 14:15

I sympathise with the plight of trainees but it's just not realistic to think that everything can carry on as before. And before everyone piles in to say that it's all the fault of money-grabbing partners, you should bear in mind that at some firms the partners stand to be paid less than the trainees and will have to decide whether they want to take out a second mortgage to ensure that there is a firm for anyone to come back to when the furlough ends. It's tough times all round.


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