First let me say how pleased I am the Law Society backs the idea of a standard professional indemnity insurance proposal form. The process of getting quotes for indemnity insurance is made much more time-consuming by having to fill out a form for each broker or insurance company. I would not claim any credit that it was my idea but you did read it here first (oh alright I do claim the credit - so sue me).

I suggest that whenever you are contacted by email, telephone or letter by brokers or companies you ask if they have signed up to the Society’s standard proposal form. It will not make much difference but hopefully next year it will be more widely accepted.

Trainee alternative?

I have written previously about training contracts and the problems with colleges churning out too many people looking for contracts, some of whom may not be suitable, and the lack of places to train. The debate about the decision to remove the minimum salary for trainees continues. Technically the minimum salary has simply been replaced by the statutory minimum wage. A questionable step forward for the profession?

We want to encourage the best entrants. Why not have a portfolio system instead of the two-year contract? A sort of mix and match. Some trainees would stay for the two years in one firm, some would work six months a time at different firms, and possibly some of that time could be non-legal. A student might do two six months at one firm doing crime then elderly law, then a final six months at another firm doing conveyancing after six months volunteering at an orphanage in Africa. Alright, they are not going to learn much law then but it might help develop the personal skills a solicitor needs.

The advantage is it would be easier for trainees to get work. Firms would not have to sign up people for two years although they could if they wanted. Perhaps six months could be spent trying to complete the insurance forms.

David Pickup is a partner in Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott