Redundancy FAQs

I am looking for information about re-employment. Can you help?

Tips for re-employment

1. Re-evaluate - even in tough economic conditions, it's worth taking time to consider what you want to do. Do you want to continue with you current specialism or is this the time to change your focus to another area of the law or even pursue a career outwith the legal profession?

2. Be positive, proactive and organised - don't wait for the job to come to you. Have a plan and keep developing it.

3. Get your CV up to date - career advisers, recruitment firms and HR departments can all provide advice on CV writing and online application forms. The Society is developing a course on CV writing and interview skills. Details will be available in the e-bulletin in due course.

4. Think 'transferable skills' - we see many CVs from lawyers that concentrate on areas of practice and levels of legal expertise. These are only part of a job. Think about your organisational, administrative, project management, communication, and other generic skills. And make sure you sell these.

5. Stay up to date - you may want to consider simple things such as ensuring you read relevant articles in the Journal and other online law publications, to demonstrate that you are continuing to engage in CPD (more details below). More creative ideas include volunteering with a charity/not-for-profit organisation to keep workplace and even legal skills (perhaps with an advice service) up to date.

6. Network - use your contacts. Get out and about and meet people.

7. Apply, apply, apply - even if it's not exactly what you want to do, it's worth applying. Getting offered a job, even if you don't accept it, is always a good morale boost. At worst, it's good practice.

8. Compromise - it's a buyer's market so be prepared to compromise. You may not get the perfect job in terms of what you want to do, where you want to do it and even how much you get paid but it will provide a better platform if you decide to move again.

Who else can help with expert advice about re-employment options?

My World of Work is an online service provided by Skills Development Scotland. It offers a unique combination of tools, features and job information helping people discover more about themselves and the future world of work. Visit www.myworldofwork.co.uk.

The Universal Jobmatch service covers the whole of the UK. Many people might not think of it as a place for professional jobs but solicitor jobs are advertised. See www.gov.uk/jobsearch.

You can retrain at universities, colleges and commercial training providers. Scotland does not have specific retraining courses for solicitors, but you may wish to consider what practical courses are available. For example, paralegal courses may be ideal to re-familiarise yourself with the practical aspects of an area of law. Central Law Training (www.clt-scotland.co.uk) and Rewards (www.rewards-trc.co.uk), for example, offer distance learning courses in employment, family, and debt recovery, all areas of law where we are seeing continued recruitment demand. Scotland's colleges also offer courses that may be relevant, and have been used in the past by people returning to work. Our universities may have relevant courses, for example, a postgraduate certificate in employment law.

You may also want to consider looking at the Open University's Outsmart the Recession web pages, which are packed with advice on what to do if you are out of work, and even contain free learning resources allowing you to improve your skills in a range of areas to make you more attractive to potential employers. See www.open.ac.uk/recession.

What are the implications of continuing to hold my practising certificate in relation to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission?

It is important you consider the implications of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC). If you have a PC on 30 June, then you will be personally liable for payment of the SLCC levy. To avoid being liable for payment for this yourself, you would need to surrender your PC prior to 30 June.

We appreciate this presents an issue. If you are looking for work in the period up to 30 June, you will want to keep your PC as it has been paid for and means you can say that you have a current certificate. However, if you have not surrendered by 30 June, you will hit the legal liability date.

The Levy Working Party looked sympathetically on unemployed cases in the first year following introduction of the levy. As the SLCC has been in operation since October 2008, and in recognition that every exemption from the levy is paid for ultimately by other members, the working party now takes a more restrictive approach to applications from those with a PC on any liability date who later seek exemption.

If you find employment, the new firm is likely to pay for the new PC and SLCC levy you will need to practise.

The Society would encourage you to set a diary reminder for this key date, and consider your situation nearer the time, but leaving the opportunity to take action if you need to.

What are the implications of continuing to hold my practising certificate in relation to CPD?

Follow the link for full details of the CPD scheme.

For the avoidance of doubt, where the guidelines refer to weeks, these are working weeks of 35 hours.

CPD applies only to those holding practising certificates but is related to the number of hours worked in the year. A minimum number of CPD hours are usually applied. The hours are required whether in employment or not. However, if you are unable to comply in any year, temporary relief may be obtained in the form of an extension of time by contacting the Registrar's Department at the Society at Registrar@lawscot.org.uk or on 0131 476 8179.

The Update team will be able to help you with ideas of how to stay up to date at a reasonable cost, including CPD by DVD and online learning. You may also want to stay in touch with your local faculty, which may provide low-cost CPD or free events, often with the Society presenting on current topics.

I am finding it hard to cope with the additional stress caused by redundancy. Can you give offer any advice?

There is no doubt that dealing with this situation can bring additional stress. Solicitors often leave it too long to speak to someone else about these issues, when in fact the support of family, peers, and professional help can be invaluable.

LawCare is totally independent of the Society, although we support its costs. It is an advisory and support service to help lawyers, their staff and their immediate families to deal with health problems such as stress, depression and addiction, and related emotional difficulties. There is a free helpline (0800 279 6888) and information and workbooks are available at www.lawcare.org.uk.

What else is the Society doing about the downturn?

  1. See our Support in the downturn pages for helpful information for individuals and firms.
  2. We're communicating regularly with local faculty deans, to make sure we have an understanding of the varying impact in different regions.
  3. The Society is monitoring redundancies on a day-by-day basis, looking at solicitors, paralegals and support staff (recording incoming data and surveying firm's intentions over the next six months).
  4. We have been in talks with both the Scottish and UK Governments about the impact of the downturn on law firms and what can be done to address this.
  5. We have been working to open up other job opportunities and have, for example, been successful in working with two public sector agencies to take on additional trainees who have lost their training contracts because of the downturn.
  6. High street conferences and a Business Toolkit have supported firms in addressing the downturn. More events are planned and it is worth making sure the Society has an up-to-date personal email address so that you receive our monthly e-bulletin. This can be done by emailing our records team or by calling 0131 226 7411.

What other jobs can I do with a law degree?

All members of the Law Society of Scotland have the benefit of LawCare, which provides counselling and support. LawCare lists 101 jobs you can do with a law degree at www.lawcare.org.uk/alternativecareers.htm.

The Society has a recruitment website, www.lawscotjobs.co.uk, through which most legal jobs are advertised. We are working to ensure that as many jobs as possible are filtered through here, to give people a single search portal.

We would also encourage you to speak to the recruitment agencies that advertise on that site and in the Journal, as they may be aware of opportunities with their clients.