Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Decisions - good and bad...

This does seem to be the week for decisions - or at least for the announcement of decisions. I wrote yesterday about a brave decision from Outer Temple chambers in trying to get the jump on the ABS structure.

Also in yesterday's press was a story from "The Lawyer" about my old firm - Field Fisher Waterhouse. Friends and colleagues usually expect that I will have nothing good to say about the firms I used to work for - and I will admit to falling into the bad habit of the blogger of tending to talk about bad news more often than about good. I certainly have no ill feelings towards any of the firms I've worked with and in this case it would appear to be good news. The story is about FFW cutting its graduate intake numbers " a quarter."

I'm never entirely sure with "The Lawyer" whether they are for or against any particular story and it is perhaps my own problem that I read the headline as a criticism. The word "slash" does not, after all, have good connotations. What the story reveals, however, is what I think is a measured and sensible decision to reduce the number of graduates taken on from 20 to 15 (which, yes, is a 25% cut - but it would have been less sensational simply to have said "five fewer" - but then I'm not trying to sell advertising), to increase engagement with the graduates before they join, to change the programme to four seats of six months (better, I think than the previous six seats of four months), and to incorporate graduate recruitment into the firm's main career development framework.

These all sound like sensible moves. Yes there will be fewer graduates taken on, but I haven't noticed a dearth of solicitors at the moment. It is surely sensible to engage more fully with fewer people and to work to ensure that they receive a better experience.

I know that the firm has been thinking about this change, and planning it carefully, for some time. Tempting as it may be to attack what might be seen by some as a brutal cost-cutting measure, I think they have made a good decision.

Who's next..?


  1. It might have been a good decision - but not for graduates. Yet again partners in law firms are slashing educational opportunities in order to line their own pockets.

    I was lined up for a place and now "we've changed our mind" is what I was told. Now what!

    They should have more places not less

  2. Hi Peter,
    Can you help me get a job, please?

  3. Hi anonymous II,

    I wish I could. Sadly all I can do is to sympathise with you in a difficult time and to suggest that you keep plugging away.

    Of course being anonymous won't help!

    Good luck in the hunt.