Saturday, January 21, 2006

Breath Of Fresh Air

I left my old job this week and started my new job. I have moved from a relatively small criminal department in East London to a fairly large criminal department in Essex. I have been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the organisation, it's people and the work that they do.

About twelve months ago I had an argument with the Human Resources department of my last firm. As a duty solicitor I was due to pay a £200 fee to the Law Society to be provided with a certificate to show that I had obtained the relevant qualifications to be a duty solicitor. When I asked for a cheque from the firm to pay the fee I was told that I would have to meet with the Human Resources Manager to discuss the business needs of the firm to see if it was appropriate for the firm to pay the fee.

To an outsider it may seem greedy for a solicitor to expect a firm to pay fees on their behalf but the truth of the matter is that payment of the £200 meant that I would remain on the local duty solicitor schemes and therefore the firm would draw in work from the local courts and police stations via the slots I was allocated on the duty solicitor rotas. Basically it was in the interests of the firm to pay the fee to get more work.

When I eventually got my chance to discuss the business needs of the firm with the Human Resources Manager the firm 'generously' offered to loan me the money to pay the fee on the condition that I repay the money. I told the firm they could stick their offer where the sun doesn't shine or would leave. Eventually they backed down and paid the fee. I should have really considered my position back then and left sooner!

I have been in my new job for three days. I have already had discussions about training, personal development, professional association memberships and the like. There has never been any suggestion that I should pay for the associated fees because the new firm knows that they will benefit from any training or development that I undertake. I am now going to crack on with getting my higher rights of audience sorted out before December of this year as I have been given a real incentive to develop my professional career further.

So far so good for the new job.

12 comments:

David said...

Try being a nurse.

You can pay up or piss off.

Bystander said...

Good on you. The only thing about higher rights from my point of view is that all the best advocates have buggered off to the Crown Court to follow the money, leaving the mags faced with a lot of well-meaning but totally green young lawyers.

mellowdaisy said...

I wish you all the luck with it :-)

Gavin said...

Bystander,

I have no intention to leave the Magistrates Courts, but I do obtain my higher rights I may do the odd appearance here and there. I am certainly not planning a career as Criminal Solicitor QC.

Gavin said...

MD,

Thanks for you kind words.

Anonymous said...

"organisation, it's people and"

You probably don't want to risk a thread about how literacy in the legal profession is as bad as that in the police force...

Wig and Gown said...

Aside from the obvious reasons, once you gain your higher rights you will be of great use to your firm when you have the odd PCMH or mention that you simply can't get Counsel to cover and don't want look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

New firm sounds a great improvement. Go for your Higher Rights and good luck! However, please remember that it makes some Barristers very nervous indeed ...

Archbold, the Cat

mellowdaisy said...

Ooooh, either I'm drunk and my eyes have gone funny or your html has gone squiffy! :-/

Lennie Briscoe said...

" have been in my new job for three days. I have already had discussions about training, personal development, professional association memberships and the like"

Just wait. All the talk stays talk and never materializes into training. That is unless they put their money where their mouth is... My current firm seems really good at it, but thats one company in five I have worked for.

Congrats! & Good luck!
Lennie

Kelly. saa said...

I am really appalled by the treatment that you received at your former firm. I pay all my staff costs for training and give study leave (paid) for exams etc. I have fantastic staff and want to keep them. Its not all rosy but at least there are no quibbles about the sort of things you refer to. If I treat my staff properly then I get in return a willingness to do a little bit extra when I need it.

I am really pleased that you have left the old firm as they clearly do not deserve such a dedicated member of staff. I do hope that everything works out the way you hope.

Do apply for your higher rights. The Law Society wants as many of possible of us to apply via the exemption route so can I suggest that you contact the really nice man who deals with the applications now and discuss your experience with him. He may tell you that you have sufficient experience to put your application in now. That's what I did and encouraged by my discussions with him sorted out my application very quickly and was granted rights in 2004.

If he sort of gives you the go ahead go to your employer and ask for the fee. This will tell you whether they will stick to what they have suggested. Too many firms are like the one you previously worked for and its better to find out sooner rather than later.

Good luck.

Gavin said...

Thank you to everyone who has left words of support.