Tight job market leads to abuse of law graduates in Western Australia

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Law graduates in Western Australia are increasingly more vulnerable to abuse because of a tight job market, a new report revealed.
In the 2016 Annual Report of the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia’s Legal Profession Complaints Committee, it was noted that the job market for law graduates over the last few years has been a difficult one.
Many practices, the committee said, are not taking on as many graduates as they have in the past because of the economic downturn, particularly in the mining and resources areas.
“As a result, the Committee has seen the emergence of trends among a few practices, generally smaller practices, to require younger graduates to agree to working conditions which may be in breach of the minimum conditions of employment to which legal practices, like other employers, are required by law to comply,” Gael Roberts wrote in the report.
“Many graduates are reluctant to report such breaches to the Committee as they don’t want to lose the opportunity to gain valuable work experience,” Roberts revealed.
The law complaints officer said that it is important that the law fraternity look after law graduates to ensure that their legal rights are fully met and no advantage is taken of them.
Meanwhile, the profession watchdog noted that most of the complaints they received in the 2015-16 year are in the area of family/de facto law which accounted for 30.2% of all complaints. The next two areas of most complaints are civil litigation (15.3%) and probate/wills/family provisions (13.2%), a continuation of the trends from 2013-14 and 2014-15.
By areas of inquiry tied were cost/payment issues and communication/service with 31.1% each. Personal conduct and other complaints accounted for 24.4% and 13.4% respectively.
“Many of the matters the Committee is currently dealing with involve an allegation of lack of competency concerning, for example, documents prepared or settled by the practitioner or the advice given by the practitioner,” Roberts reported.

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