Following my recent post about law firms getting people to work for them for free, I was made aware of an even more sinister practice that is going on.
It appears that some firms are actually asking individuals to pay to get legal work experience with them. In one instance, reported on one of the forums recently, a candidate was asked to pay a small high street firm £6000 in return for work experience and some training for 6 months. They were also told that it would lead to a paid position after the 6 months.
Work experience has traditionally been unpaid work (except for certain formal vacation schemes where the firm might pay you). I can think of no reason that would ever justify a firm seeking payment from a work experience person. After all, an unpaid work experience placement is not just for the benefit of the person gaining the experience. The firm also benefits by getting some additional support at no cost, and also a chance to assess the skills and capabilities of the individual to help them decide whether they might like to formally employ them in the future.
For anyone who encounters this sort of practice, my advice would be to avoid it like the plague. I would also give the Law Society a call with the name of the firm firstly to see whether they are properly registered and, if so, to alert the Society to this practice.
The good news remains, however, that there are still many firms who would be more than willing to offer you some unpaid legal work experience to help you with your research and decision making and to boost your CV.