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22k Problems but a job ain’t one

Suit and tie

There once was a magical job advertisement that would help solve the lack of employment opportunities for law graduates. Alas, there’s a catch. It’s going to cost you $22,000.

Adelaide based company, Adlawgroup were offering law graduates the opportunity to gain full-time employment for two years, at the end of which they would qualify for an unrestricted practising certificate, for an upfront fee.

While the original business model was aimed at tackling the lack of opportunities for law graduates in South Australia, the Law Society has questioned its ethical viability, bringing the program to a halt. They’ve come right out and expressed its exploitative potential, among other concerns.

The “firm” proposes to be more of an employment agency, a far cry from their original advertisement, which portrayed the image that they were a firm with vacancies for juniors rather than an agency paid to look for vacant positions.

But what happens after two years? Most likely, it’s going to end with looking for employment elsewhere. But there’s no guarantee that a lawyer will find secure employment upon finishing. We’re also not sure how employable the program will make them, considering the general lack of information about the program itself.

Investing almost half the amount of an average salary to get experience with a firm when there is no guarantee of earning any income (the grads are expected to find their own clients and generate their own business) is a bit ambitious not to mention risky. While grads may be trying to beat the catch-22(k) of needing experience for a job and a job for experience, where’s the line when it comes to the vulnerability of law grads?

The most confusing part is we’re not sure if they’re signing on as an independent contractor or employee, implicating tax and superannuation obligations. It may also be considered a consumer service as it is providing a service (experience) for a cost. This brings in concerns about consumer guarantees governed by the ACL.

If spread throughout Australia, it will open up a market where law graduates pay to work without any certainty as to how beneficial it will be and whether they will get a ROI and the experience they need in order to qualify for an unrestricted practicing certificate.

Currently, Adlawgroup have said that they will continue to work with the Law Society until participants have complete confidence in it.

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