Exploitation of junior staff: your letters to the editor
Time for a practice rule on sex
As a solicitor who has been in-house for years, I am in wonderment of not only the personal matters the SRA thinks affect the lack of integrity of the individual, but of the horrendous fines and high costs orders that are made as a result (for example, Beckwith). To stop this nonsense, may I propose the following new Practice Rule:
A. A solicitor may have whatever sexual relations they wish with whatever person they wish (‘person’), provided that such sexual relations are lawful and the person:
a. neither reports to nor is managed by the solicitor;
b. consents to the same; and
c. is not a client nor is connected with a client.
B. Where the matters in para A apply, the SRA shall not investigate the matter.
Thus, the new rule will make it clear that lawful sexual relationships are of no concern to the SRA, which can then investigate more serious matters that affect the provision of legal services to the public – things that really matter, not tittle-tattle.
Stop exploiting junior staff
Reading ‘Law firm on government’s minimum wage roll of shame’ prompted me to share my experiences. Many high street firms pay junior staff either a rate below the minimum wage or a fixed sum. As a paralegal from 2010-2015, I was paid £200 or £400 in return for an expectation to work full-time and sometimes longer hours under the guise of ‘work experience and opportunities’.
If we chose limited hours, we were told to take those ‘opportunities’ more seriously. Often, that would lead to longer hours and even working weekends. I have learned how many like me have been exploited.
We could quickly become proficient and able to deal with things that firms would be paying a paralegal/trainee a decent salary for if they went through the proper channels of hiring and entering into employment contracts.
I now work in a larger organisation and have learned that on-the-job training does exist. We are not required to know everything, but are paid to do the work and will have some degree of structured training.
In the high street, by contrast, juniors also lose out as they do not see their career progressing in the form of being offered a training contract. They may even get asked to perform tasks that they should not be doing, but as they have no employment contract their rights are limited.
Some firms even go as far as not providing a work reference. Given that firms get what almost amounts to a free service, the least they could do is acknowledge their ethical obligations and offer this. As for the partners in these firms, they get away with generating maximum revenue for themselves.
Name and address supplied