Legal News recently hosted an Exchange event in collaboration with The Law Society Wale office, Yolk Recruitment and CILEx to offer the latest information for employees inlaw firms in Wales who have been put on furlough or made redundant.
We were also joined by Catherine Almeida, Employment Solicitor from JCP Solicitors.
While the event was a closed and confidential discussion, we wanted to share some of the content and advice, as well as progress since the event and useful resources for both employees and employers.
One of the main concerns regarded training contracts for furloughed trainee solicitors.
In response, Richard Jones, Engagement & Communications Executive, The Law Society Wales, said:
“We’re doing everything we can on this issue, at the highest level and with the SRA, to get information on training contracts and more. We send daily emails to solicitors to share as much guidance as possible but we’re also sharing any information we do have – particularly from the SRA – with Legal News.”
Are employers sharing information and staying in touch with their furloughed staff?
“I think it’s a mixed bag – some people are getting lots of info and support from their employers, others are simply being told you’re going on furloughed. Some employers are very understanding and sympathetic.
“A good example is one firm that has announced that its senior managers have taken a 30% pay cut (without being made furlough) to try and top up the wages for some of their employees There is a lot of empathy out there but there will always be a minority of employers who are perhaps not giving employees enough guidance and support.
“What makes employees anxious is not knowing how long they will be furloughed for. We appreciate that it’s difficult to provide exact information but at the very, employers should tell furloughed employees they will be furloughed for ‘x’ amount of time, and that there will be a review period – and give a date for this. At that review date, employers should be sure to advise employees what will happen next.”
What was your initial response to being placed on furlough?
“I’m an in-house recruiter in a law firm in Cardiff who was placed on furlough during the first week of the crisis.
“When I got the phone call I was heartbroken and wondered ‘why me’. I fell into an emotional space of feeling it was a personal thing.
“Then, halfway through the phone call with my employer, I thought ‘what would I do in their position?’ Honestly, I’d do the same thing; furlough is there to protect our jobs.
“For me, being furloughed and not made redundant means they want me to come back. At the moment, there is no recruitment and nothing for me to do. I understand that.
“I’ve since moved into a very busy (voluntary) role to help recruit for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Since posting this news and sharing my experience on social media, lots of people have contacted me to say that they’ve also been furloughed; they feel bitter and constantly wonder why it’s happened to them. It’s not personal and I hope some are starting to realise this as the days go on.”
Henry, why did you volunteer?
“My view is that the Government is paying for my salary for the next three months so I might as well do something in return.
“I’ve done a lot of volume recruitment in the past but I’ve never worked in a team of six that’s making over 75 job offers per day! It’s crazy. I’m having such a fantastic and unique experience, so yes, I’m also getting something out of it.”
Richard Jones closed the event by encouraging Law Society members to take advantage of their local office, saying:
“If any solicitors have a query, please contact The Law Society Wales office, in confidence or otherwise so that we can signpost you to support and any potential opportunities.”
You can find the office contact details here.
Post event follow up & useful resources
In the week following our event for furloughed staff and those put into redundancy, Sarah Castle, Head of Legal at Yolk Recruitment, faced a difficult week talking to candidates who had seen job offers rescinded.
This was, unfortunately inevitable and makes for tough reading. However, there is a positive spin-off from our event, which Sarah attended, as she explains below:
“During the insightful event hosted by Legal News, I re-engaged with Henry Field, my legal contact who has been furloughed and subsequently volunteered at the NHS.
“I put Henry in touch with a candidate of mine who had, earlier that day, been told she couldn’t start her dream job due to Covid-19.
“Within 24 hours of the Legal News event, my candidate had secured paid employment with the NHS via the contact.
“We are all really grateful for Legal News and the Exchange events run to educate us but to also keep the legal community as tight and supportive as ever.”
Editor – This is fantastic news and it’s exactly why Legal News wanted to host our Exchange events – to make a difference and support legal professionals in Wales.
Our next event: Thursday 9 April
We have gathered some training, volunteering and support links below for you and don’t forget to join Legal News, LawCare and Cardiff & District Law Society for our next event ‘We’ll get you through this’ on Thursday 9 April at 12:30pm.
This Legal News Exchange event is ideal for those who are struggling to juggle their responsibilities and free time while home-working during the crisis, for those who have been furloughed / made redundant and for anyone else in the legal professional in Wales, and beyond. It’s free to join us but you must register to attend the closed group.
For information and to register, click here.
Henry Field is a volunteer within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, to find more volunteer opportunities within the trust, please click here.
If you’re a recruiter with time to volunteer, please contact Henry directly. Henry has also written a more in-depth account of his experiences and shared it with Legal News. You can read it here.
Training: offer for employers of furloughed staff
Brightlink Learning has kindly offered employers with furloughed staff a fantastic training arrangement for employees who would like to develop their legal and operational skills, while on furlough.
Brightlink’s online learning platform and live training can help develop, diversify and support employees before returning to work – as well as offer a purpose and a positive outcome while in lockdown.
Payments: Brightlink is offering to provide training based on a one quarter deposit now, and then pay nothing until the furloughed employee is back in work – or 3 months later, whichever comes first. The remainder payments can be made across 3 interest free instalments.
If you are an employer that works with Yolk Recruitment (which currently has a training offer in place with Brightlink Learning) then please ask them to contact email@example.com quoting their work with Yolk and to discuss a back to work arrangement.
The Law Society FAQs on training contracts & advice for furloughed solicitors
You can view the latest advice from The Law Society for furloughed trainees, and it’s work to get further clarification from the SRA, by clicking here.
CILEx support for employees & employers
To help direct enquiries and provide support to members and other stakeholder we have developed the CILEx Stay Connected Hub. The hub signposts visitors a broad range of resources which can be used to support individuals whether members/not (although some content will be available to members only) furloughed, still working, keen to enter the legal profession, or just interested in knowing more about the law.
The CILEx hub’s Stay Ahead section provides links to training and CPD provision and providers which you can find here. Blended/distance learning providers are still enrolling and we have an exam window in September should anyone wish to take formal assessments. CILEx flexible route into law allows individual sot complete modules at their own pace and in an order that best suits their needs. For example, for those wishing to broaden the skills and knowledge, individual units can be completed – of course, in the right combinations these can also lead to full qualification.
In addition to accessing our more familiar law and legal practice qualifications, CILEx members have unlimited access to the CILEx Professional Development Portal myCareer offering additional learning to help develop new career and business skills with expert-advice videos, interactive e-learning courses, tips and articles.
The platform is available 24/7 online and offers:
- Business skills support developing core business skills in key areas such as teamwork, problem solving, time management, presentation skills, numeracy, writing skills, customer awareness and leadership.
- Business education content to help develop strategic business and commercial skills with MBA-level resources, covering organisational challenges, strategic decision-making, leadership, and business and process management.
- Careers assessment centre
- CV360 scores your CV against more than 50 checks, you get instant, detailed feedback so you can optimise your CV and significantly boost your chances of getting to interview
- IT Skills a broad range of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook simulation-based courses designed for beginners, intermediate and experienced professionals.
- And much more.
Some resources available to non-members who can register for an introductory level account by registering here. They will have access to a myCareer lite portal which offers CV support and interview simulator.
For organisations interested in opening access to this resource to non-CILEx staff, please contact Lynne Squires, Head of Business Development at CILEx here, who can arrange a call to help them better understand what is available to them.
CILEx is still working and available to provide help advice and guidance. Contact details for CILEx colleagues can be found here.
Finally, there is a live daily catch up run by @CILExLawyers on Twitter, for CILEx professionals and others to share tips, catch up with other members and share their experiences in the live feed. This runs daily between 12-12:30pm using the hashtag #CILEx
Wellbeing & mental health
LawCare provides FREE support in a number of different ways, for lawyers struggling to come to terms with furlough / redundancy and the strain of working and juggling other commitments during the Covid-19 crisis. You can find all the contact details and the latest advice, here.