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Unpaid paralegal work - should I accept? Watch

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    (Original post by Clip)
    And then lose because you were dumb enough to take a firm of solicitors (who gave you work experience) to the ET. Get your name in the legal press for being litigious and never get another job in legal services again, ever.

    Genius.
    It was light hearted, but it isn't such a stupid idea. What the firm is offering is not work experience - it is a full time job. They are not paying minimum wage for that job so they are breaking the law and should be held accountable for it. It's a sad state of affairs that people are so desperate for experience that they are afraid to claim what they are entitled to.
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    (Original post by emmings)
    It was light hearted, but it isn't such a stupid idea. What the firm is offering is not work experience - it is a full time job. They are not paying minimum wage for that job so they are breaking the law and should be held accountable for it. It's a sad state of affairs that people are so desperate for experience that they are afraid to claim what they are entitled to.
    Welcome to the world.


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    (Original post by emmings)
    It was light hearted, but it isn't such a stupid idea. What the firm is offering is not work experience - it is a full time job. They are not paying minimum wage for that job so they are breaking the law and should be held accountable for it. It's a sad state of affairs that people are so desperate for experience that they are afraid to claim what they are entitled to.
    You don't know that. You don't know that it's a FT job.

    The whole idea that being a worker rather than a volunteer hinges on compulsory hours is not as straightforward as that. Interns and charity volunteers cannot work "whatever" hours they feel like. It doesn't happen like that. They are also obliged to turn up, otherwise they would be asked not to return.

    If you do pro-bono legal work, you are obliged to do the time you promise to, and put in the work that you undertake to. You couldn't take on a case and then not turn up to the hearing because you didn't feel like it. You couldn't work hours when the offices aren't open or when the client isn't available.

    There is always going to be a quantum of difference between an unpaid/voluntary position and working for nothing. I would suggest that you don't know enough in this case to make the declaration that this is illegal.

    It's also false to say that someone would be "claiming their entitlement". They can't. If the job had to be paid, the position may well not exist at all.

    The bottom line in this is that the volunteer/worker is actually getting exactly what they want. They're not putting in their labour for no return.
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    The OP's first post says that the role is full time and that the job description says it involves casework. Obviously we don't have full details but it is looking pretty certain that the OP will satisfy the definition of a worker.

    I can't understand why you are so defensive of some tin pot high street firm exploiting desperate graduates in a saturated market. If the firm can't afford to pay a full time paralegal minimum wage then it has to make do like the rest of us in a down turn who have had to absorb additional workloads as people have been made redundant etc.

    A firm who won't pay you minimum wage is not worthy of your time.
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    (Original post by Clip)
    You don't know that. You don't know that it's a FT job.

    The whole idea that being a worker rather than a volunteer hinges on compulsory hours is not as straightforward as that. Interns and charity volunteers cannot work "whatever" hours they feel like. It doesn't happen like that. They are also obliged to turn up, otherwise they would be asked not to return.

    If you do pro-bono legal work, you are obliged to do the time you promise to, and put in the work that you undertake to. You couldn't take on a case and then not turn up to the hearing because you didn't feel like it. You couldn't work hours when the offices aren't open or when the client isn't available.

    There is always going to be a quantum of difference between an unpaid/voluntary position and working for nothing. I would suggest that you don't know enough in this case to make the declaration that this is illegal.

    It's also false to say that someone would be "claiming their entitlement". They can't. If the job had to be paid, the position may well not exist at all.

    The bottom line in this is that the volunteer/worker is actually getting exactly what they want. They're not putting in their labour for no return.
    Actually it is clearcut illegal. Charity workers fall into the 'voluntary workers' exemption under the NMW because the work is for a charity, but law firms most certainly do not. The only exemption the law firm in this case could fall into is 'volunteers' but as I said above, that requires that it is down to the individual if and when they turn up. As soon as there is an obligation to turn up, the individual is out of the volunteer category, into the worker category, and NMW applies.

    The law firm in this case is being very silly - the successful candidate could easily do the work then seek NMW retrospectively, and the law fraternity is hardly going to look well upon the firm when it loses and has an order made against it.

    Firms like this are exploiting job-seekers' desperation and it is despicable. No reputable law firm would do it. It goes against everything the profession is trying to achieve in terms of opening up to a wider demographic. It is even more disgusting when clients are being charged for the work being done. Maybe a week or two of unpaid work experience, but the OP gives the impression that this will be for longer.
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    (Original post by Yazooo)
    (Posted here for more replies..)

    I'm in my second year of uni - been accepted for a paralegal job. However, the job is unpaid/voluntary and is full-time (9 am - 5 pm). I didn't get a good vibe from the firm and I found the interviewer a little unprofessional


    She seemed a bit cold...didn't respond to the small talk I made whilst waiting for interview...little to no eye contact...she also smirked when I asked her whether their would be any chance to get involved in casework (this was outlined in the job description) and seemed a bit negative. So I was very surprised when I got the job.

    I might be overreacting and thinking stupidly so I thought I'd ask on here. On the one hand, a firm asking for paralegals working on a voluntary basis (with no pay or offer of TC) sounds dodgy because I have never come across it before but on the other hand, I am desperate for legal w/e :/ What do you guys think?
    If you're not being paid, they're not allowed to ask you to do any work because of minimum wage laws. Either this is shadowing (fine) or they're trying to break the law (avoid like the plague). Alternatively, you could do work for them and then sue them for back pay at the end of it.
 
 
 
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