Firm of banned $22k fee grad job fights back

by |
Adlawgroup, the firm which posted the infamous Seek ad offering two year grad positions for $22k, has hit back saying the South Australian Law Society didn’t fully understand the business model.

Adlawgroup spokesperson Tina Hailstone told news.com.au that it appeared the Law Society “has not fully understood the business model”.

Hailstone said that the firm doesn’t know when or if the program would be launched following the South Australian Law Society’s verdict that the program was not consistent with an employment relationship. 

Law graduates in the state are required to undertake two years of supervised employment before being allowed to practice.

Despite claims by the firm the project is a response to an oversupply of graduates and gives new lawyers an opportunity to invest in their own future, partners of parent company WBH Legal have said they are looking into absorbing most of the costs of participation following the controversy.

Adlawgroup received around 25 applicants before its ad was removed from Seek after just one day, according to news.com.au.

“The sad thing is there have been a number of applicants emailing and asking have you had any progress yet,” Hailstone said after the firm notified applicants that the program wouldn’t be going ahead at this stage.

“The opportunities for graduates aren’t there.  The situation is getting worse and my view is this is an effect that you get when you turn professional education into a commodity.”
  • SImon Munslow on 26/10/2015 2:31:29 PM

    Kate, in this instance, I agree. I was merely suggesting that a pay for experience model could be a good one, if regulated. I know I was thrown into the deep end thirty one years ago, and learned little from my Master solicitors.

  • Kate on 25/10/2015 2:20:16 PM

    Simon - If the firm had ANY kind of benchmark as to what knowledge it would impart for its fees, I'd be more willing to entertain the idea. But they are literally saying "pay us, and we'll let you find your own work, then do your own work, under our name." Who knows what level of supervision they're offering to impose.

  • Simon Munslow on 22/10/2015 2:26:40 PM

    The Government has chosen to make the practice of law more of a business than in earlier times, so why shouldn't a firm be able to charge for other aspects of its practice.
    Law school is not free, nor is College of Knowledge, so why should'nt a firm be able to charge for knowledge it imparts if it so chooses?
    Having said this, if a firm chooses this approach, it needs to be regulated to prevent exploitation, and to guarantee the educational component imparted?

  • Odd on 29/09/2015 6:49:58 PM

    It is a bad idea. As the 'customer' the grad should be able to demand a certain range of experience and degree of training - but what grad in that position would risk pushing too hard when doing so could ruin their chances of future employment.
    Lots and lots of industries take a punt when they employ a graduate, some see it as an opportunity to give something back... heaven forbid.

  • Pat on 28/09/2015 2:11:24 PM

    Frankly I support Adlaws proposal.

    The aviation industry has been doing this for years allowing pilots to get otherwise difficult to obtain expereince on heavy aircraft.

  • Exposing Realist on 26/09/2015 11:25:06 AM

    Further to the 'post' by 'Peter' at 11:54 AM yesterday, in the early (and post WW2) 1950s my Father was articled following the completion of his law degree at Adelaide Uni.
    Instead of my Father having to PAY to do his articles my Father was afforded the then true privilege of doing his articles for free.
    'Peter' is correct in that universities have made 'doing law' a business for them - as a result of which the 'supply' of law graduates is FAR in excess of the 'demand' for them, and by a factor of about 10 to 1 so the senior partner at a big Adelaide law firm told me about 3 or 4 years ago!
    God only knows what that ratio is now given the woeful condition of the South Australian economy - thanks, in the main, to Jay Weatherill and his cohorts in gross incompetence and corruption.
    The partners at WBH Law are all ethical and commercially minded professionals (unlike MANY of the 'fat cat' lawyers at 'the big firms' who have lost all touch with reality) and were only trying to help those graduates who:
    1. didn't go to Saints, Princes, Pembroke, Seymour, Wilderness or Scotch; or
    2. who don't have 'daddy' or 'mummy' as a partner at an Adelaide law firm,
    earn the right to practice in their own right after 2 years.
    If the Law Society wants to 'bag' the 'Adlaw' proposal (citing, amongst other things, the insidious, economically crippling and militant union driven 'Fair Work Australia' rules, etc.) maybe they can work with the universities to ensure that the number of graduates generally match the demand for them.
    Maybe CJ Kourakis CJ needs to look at his complicity in having caused this fiasco of supply of LL.B graduates trumping demand many, many times over.
    Why don't the LSSA let market forces rule for once. No one was forcing graduates to sign up to 'the Adlaw deal' and what they offered seems better than a graduate sitting around for 2 years and still not being qualified.
    I could go on and on, but I won't.

  • Louise Steer on 25/09/2015 2:30:08 PM

    If this is true, it's contrary to the Legal Services Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act. We don't live in the age of Dickens. At least we don't outside Adelaide. As for young lawyers learning the ropes, in any firm of any competence at all, supervising partners vet all documents and correspondence. That's their job. Let them do it as part of their very high salaries. Maybe they can get a bonus for the least number of negligence actions against them.

  • Peter on 25/09/2015 11:54:04 AM

    I may be misinformed and not aware of all the terms of the proposed arrangements which Adlaw Group was seeking to set up, but I am aware that 100 years ago my grandfather had to pay his master one hundred pounds for the privilege of being articled to him. I believe that $22,000 today is less than the value of one hundred pounds then,
    And there was no guarantee that you would be admitted as a solicitor after your 5 years of articles (even if you survived that long), Articled clerks had to learn their law in their spare time and were worked like slaves during the work hours. Luckily he survived his stint of 2 years in France during the "Great War" and the 4 years of articles thereafter and became a successful solicitor thereafter.
    Then there was only one law school in NSW and most seeking to become solicitors did Articles. Now, nearly every University has a law school and law graduates are being churned out at a significant rate (more than the profession can cope with), and some that are still partially illiterate, and incapable of putting a logical sentence together, let alone giving good legal advice.
    However times change; we do not countenance slavery anymore, we do have minimum rates of pay. and the the public often gets bad or faulty advice from young graduates, and act on that advice to their detriment.
    Why? Because the cost of educating students studying Law in University, is less than teaching the sciences, engineering etc.
    Then you have the Law graduates who have not learned from their mentors how to practice their profession with the acute eye, demanding it all "now" , not only high salaries but Associateships and partnerships before they understand the art of using every word in it's correct place.
    Perhaps observing the mentors in action for two years and learning the art from them maybe worth $22,000.

  • JI on 21/09/2015 8:55:52 PM

    Charging to impart knowledge.....that's outrageous - I wonder where the firm came up with that crazy idea???

  • Kate on 21/09/2015 2:56:32 PM

    What part is being misunderstood? The part where a grad pays $22 to sit in an office for two years, only getting to do work that they source themselves, and only getting paid a proportion of whatever work they manage to find and bill and recover?

    AdLawGroup have never said at what volume of work a grad will have had to undertake over their two years in order to have their restricted experience signed off? If a grad does no work for two years becuase they couldn't find any, or does say, 1 conveyance a month, will they sign off?

Australasian Lawyer forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions