22 June 2017
Taylor Wessing has adopted a cost-effective way of taking on trainees at its Singapore office, by opting not to pay them.

The firm's cunning recruitment policy was revealed during an interview with Singapore senior partner Tan Chong Huat in which he disclosed that the office has three different schemes for taking on trainees. Under the top scheme, students with a "very good track record" which it intends to retain are paid a full wage. Under the second scheme, trainees who "have not been identified for retention" may receive a lower salary. And in the third scheme, trainees who are are "unable to find a place at other law firms" are employed on the basis, as Tan puts it bluntly, that "they might just have no pay". Although in accordance with Singapore Law Society rules, they will be paid expenses.

The arrangements are typically kept confidential to avoid stigmatising the lowest tier. So not content with creating a class of bitter no-hopers, the firm has compelled them to buy designer clothes and reciprocal rounds in the pub to avoid detection.

  Tough times call for tough measures
 

However, RollOnFriday understands that Taylor Wessing is not the only firm in Singapore to use the non-payment method of paying trainees. The number of law graduates looking for employment far outweighs the number of positions available at law firms, and a source told RollOnFriday that some of them are willing to take an unpaid six-month training contract in order to qualify as soon as possible. Others may perceive it as an opportunity for unscrupulous firms to obtain cheap labour from desperate graduates. The UK Law Society has recently clamped down on firms exploiting students under the guise of work-experience, but it remains to be seen whether the Singapore Law Society will follow suit. 

A Taylor Wessing spokeswoman said "of course a negative story typically makes for more entertaining reading, but the reality is that firms in Singapore are taking on extra trainees out of a genuine desire to help tackle the supply and demand problem aspiring lawyers there are facing."
 
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Comments

Anonymous 23 Jun 17

bullshit, the firms are plainly exploiting trainees.

cmon they do your most mundane work and probably bill quite a bit of hours.

Anonymous 23 Jun 17

I don't think it's that bad actually - if you might otherwise never qualify and plenty of trainees and young people add no value whilst they learn a trade - it is why people always had to get their parents to pay for them to be taken on as apprentice. It is a massive burden to tolerate young people around who don't pay their way in some industries (not all).

Roll On Friday 23 Jun 17

Clearly, they are taking the p1ss.

However - if it is only 6 months - then it's not too bad (unlike a 2 year TC in E&W). If I was in the shoes of one of those trainees, god forbid, I would happily do 6 months to qualify and get past the trainee bottleneck as soon as possible.

Anonymous 23 Jun 17

Wow, what scum these people are. TW's card is accordingly marked, if I have an opportunity to even the score on behalf of their slaves, consider it done.

Anonymous 23 Jun 17

Some strongly held opinions here.
I think we should all keep our own counsel until Lydia confirmed the correct view on this.

Anonymous 30 Jun 17

Unsurprising - RHT have a very poor reputation indeed in Singapore, and are known to have some very questionable figures in senior management.

Anonymous 30 Jun 17

Not bad. I would rather be taken on without pay for six months than being unable to qualify at all. You get the training, the experience and a decent name on your cv. That gives you another shot to secure a position somewhere else afterwards. Not too different from pupilage.

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