The Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association agrees that flexible traineeships are a positive introduction by the Law Society of Scotland which we welcome and support. We do hope that having this system in place will encourage firms, who would otherwise not have been able to recruit a trainee, to consider doing so. There are advantages to both firms and prospective trainees of having flexible traineeships in place.
Flexible training may suit firms who don’t have the time and resources to train up a trainee on a full time basis, which is a considerable responsibility. By employing a trainee on a part time basis or sharing a trainee with another firm, this allows the trainee to develop different skills and assists the firm by spreading the responsibilities and obligations while meeting resourcing needs.
We hope the Society will do more to highlight flexible traineeships as an option to the profession. At the moment, the onus is very much on individuals to persuade firms to take on this model of training. The Society is in a position to appeal to the whole profession and pair up like-minded firms, whereas there are only so many doors a potential trainee can knock on. The Society needs to give support and highlight the advantages to firms of the benefits of having a trainee.
The database and Journal article are a good start. We believe there is a role for the Society to establish links with local faculties, particularly in more rural areas. They have the local knowledge and business relationships with their firms, so greater liaison would be useful.
However, we do have some reservations about how flexible traineeships will work in practice. The outcomes under the new model of traineeship (PEAT 2) might be quite difficult to monitor if a trainee is working for different employers, especially if it is on a part time basis – maybe only a few days a week. We would not want the system to encourage firms to view a flexible traineeship as a way of making up shortfall in administrative staff – particularly with first year trainees, who are less profitable when it comes to fee income.
The Society has confirmed that a that a training plan for the two years of the traineeship would need to be submitted and approved in advance. The SYLA is keen for the Society to publish more information on this, so that prospective trainees know what is expected. The SYLA would like to see trainees who are undertaking a traineeship on a flexible basis having the necessary support and supervision to ensure that they are actually receiving legal training. We want to see the theory working well in practice.Fiona McAllister, President, Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association