The Solicitors Regulation Authority is withdrawing as a signatory to a code that provides guidance on the recruitment of trainee solicitors.
The voluntary code to good practice has as signatories the SRA, the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service (AGCAS) and Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).
The code, which sets a timetable for the recruitment of trainee solicitors, is intended to enable trainees to be given opportunities to explore the possible options open to them before making a commitment to a particular employer.
SRA executive director of policy Crispin Passmore said: 'We have taken the decision to withdraw from the code on the basis that it is not appropriate for [the SRA] to be involved in recruitment practices and procedures.
'A further announcement will follow in relation to the exact timing of our withdrawal.'
The code encourages law firms to wait until students’ final year of undergraduate study before making official training contract offers. It also encourages students to hold no more than two offers at any one time, and promptly to reject excess offers so those positions can be offered to someone else.
In a joint statement with AGCAS, the JLD said it was disappointed with the regulator’s decision to disassociate itself from the guidance.
It hoped the SRA would reconsider its stance but said this looks increasingly unlikely.
While the effective date of the SRA’s withdrawal was not known, the JLD and AGCAS said it should not affect this year’s recruitment cycle.
The statement said: ‘We want to take this opportunity to restate our commitment to the principles of the code. We will be looking at its content to update it in line with modern recruitment practices.
‘[We] want to ensure that those who follow the code are not put in a less favourable position than those who do not.’
The JLD and AGCAS said they will consider the possibility of alternative signatories to ensure the code’s survival.