Access to profession

 Professor Hilary Sommerlad, School of Law, University of Leicester is looking for volunteers to take part in a piece of research on the difficulties faced by aspiring, trainee and junior solicitors trying to get started in the profession. See below for details.

Please email us at if you would like to take part.

This research is concerned with the increasingly precarious employment conditions in the solicitors’ profession which many aspiring solicitors, trainees and junior solicitors seem to be facing. 

I have just begun to develop the project, and at this stage I simply want to conduct some (confidential) interviews with individuals who fall into any of the above categories, or who can comment on what appears to be an increasingly exploitative labour market.  So I am interested in hearing from you if:

  • you have completed your LPC but are having to work as an ‘intern’ or a paralegal
  • or you have qualified but are employed as a caseworker
  • or if you have had experience in the recent past of this sort of job insecurity.
I recognise of course that this market is highly fragmented, and that the conditions in some sectors (notably legal aid) seem to be worse than in others, and I would like to explore this nexus.  So I would like to hear from you whatever sector you are in / in which you are seeking work.

Other research suggests that throughout the profession there has been a ratcheting up of the level of skills and experience required, and that firms prefer degrees from elite universities, and also that gender and ethnicity is a factor in obtaining (or not) a training contract, and I would also like to explore these issues.

It also appears that in addition to the creation of more hierarchies within the profession, there may be an absence of progression routes – so I would be asking people about the extent to which staff development, and career opportunities generally, are / were available to them.

The interviews would be conducted by phone. The information would be treated as confidential, and if I were to quote any specific comments, these would be anonymised.

This initial stage of the research is for a presentation to a conference of academics in the second week of May. 

Some specific research questions:

Basic biographical detail including qualifications and levels of debt

Sector and type of work you are seeking

Experience of applying for work

Experience of working conditions; for instance:

  • Pay
  • Hours
  • Supervision
  • Staff development/ guidance generally
  • Career opportunities