Monday, March 9, 2009

Get paid for not working - London law firms payout

How would you like to be paid for not working? Too good to be true especially in this economic climate? Not quite apparently. In fact, this opportunity arises because of the financial downturn.

Londoners, hit by the financial downturn with many asked to leave their jobs and the rest worried about when it would be their turn, were greeted with announcements that some top law firms (a.k.a. Magic Circle firms) are paying their trainee lawyers a one off payment to take the year off.

Unlike Singapore, the lawyers in the UK have to as a trainee for two years before qualifying. These trainees are often hired by the law firms two to four years prior to qualifying as a full fledged lawyers. Upon completing their two years' training, these newly qualified lawyers would see a jump in their salaries - often doubled.
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In order to keep a cap on the rise in payroll, these law firms resorted to paying the newly qualified lawyers a lump sum of up to £10,000 to take their first year off. Needless to say, many took up the offer and are now having a second 'gap' year travelling round the world or acquiring new skills.

Just curious. Would you have taken up an offer like that? If so, what's the minimum payout that you're looking at?

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18 comments:

SheR. said...

One Year off work and get paid for it?

Ooooohooooooooooooooooooooo!

I wish.. but I'm a workaholic. Damn!

yoongz said...

If i lived in Singapore, no need to pay rent - i would. But is that enough in London if you had to pay rent for 12mths & still live on it - would there still be enough to travel?? It would not be in Switzerland!

veru said...

I'm spanish girl going to US and I would like to know how did you start this blog :D

MommaWannabe said...

Wow one year off with pay - does that include fringe benefits?

Hmmm - I think I would urge my husband to take that opportunity if he was offered.

And while he's not working - we can travel and explore Asia better and maybe he can start making his own blog too ;)

waitingkitty said...

WOW! I would take the opportunity to further study!

eric/BlogDeManila said...

how i wish i'm a trainee lawyer now, so I can get a payment like that and spend it in Asia where vacation is much cheaper

lina said...

Wa, so nice. Make me wish I am a trainee lawyer. :D Get 10K then can go back home or jalan-jalan some more. LOL

Martin In Bulgaria said...

You just couldn't live on that amount in the UK unless you havent' a mortgage or rest to folk out. It really is a way of saying bon voyage.

drcrab said...

it sounds nice at first, but like some others have said, 10K isn't enough to live in the UK (worse if you're in London). So really these people have to either have back up savings so that they can do extra training, or do other work, or leave the UK for this year!

It's happening in other sectors as well - like in the manufacturing industry. Workers have been asked to cut shifts, have pay freezes etc. So instead of working 3 shifts normally, they work 1 (and only get paid for that 1). hard times...

Dutchie said...

I dont think I would enjoy a trip when times r so uncertain.

I would negotiate for a shorter work week n use the time off to seek other opportunities. At least I will hv the firm to fall back on should my search proved to be less than successful. As with most profession, it's difficult to climb back onto the saddle if u r out of the rotation for a year.

Incidentally, we r insured against unemployment n some companies will top up the 30% in cases of force majeure. Unemployment benefits pay only 70% of the last earned income. The duration is 2yrs, then u r booted into social welfare which is the absolute pits - to be avoided at all cost !!!

C K said...

@SheR,
Workoholic? Hmm... I know just the place where you can deposit your earnings... :p


@yoongz,
Agreed. That's why I'm curious as to how much would you be willing to accept for taking a year off.

Looking at the exchange rate, I'm sure London is cheaper than say Berne.


@veru,
Hey there, thanks for stopping by! Well, this blog started with a suggestion by a pal. Do stop by again, cheers!


@MommaWannabe,
Hmm, I don't think there's any fringe benefits. In fact, I'm not even sure whether that's tax free.

Haha, I don't think your husband would fancy the idea of starting a blog. Travelling sounds like a good idea though.


@waitingkitty,
Would 10k quid be enough for your studies? But I think that's exactly what many are doing.


@eric,
But because of the horrible exchange rate, one would need to be somewhat frugal to stretch the sterling a bit.


@lina,
I was thinking that the return flight would take a chunk of the payout. lol


@Martin,
I'm not too sure abou the 'bon voyage' part. It seems that the firms are not too willing to ask the trainees to go just yet. Bad for the reputation it seems. But who knows what might happen a couple of years later?


@drcrab,
It's happening everywhere isn't it? Employees are asked to 'buy' vacation days... just another way to cut wages.

So have you got any figure in mind? :)


@Dutchie,
Come to think of it... would you prefer to take a lump sum now or carry on to work on a reduced sum only to be asked to leave with an even smaller payout a couple of months later?

I think that's what on the people's mind when they choose to take up the package.

Talking about social welfare, the 70% of last earned income sounds pretty generous to me though...

Digital Polaroids said...

That is IMPOSSIBLE in Argentina...

::karinuslai:: said...

well quite a lot of people take the year out without any money at all to begin with - many trainee lawyers (and having been a law student in the uk i know many of them) actually take gap years to begin with. admittedly if you're being asked to take a second year it's quite painful but if you're intending to take a gap anyway the 10k would be a windfall, since your original plan probably involved visiting a country for several months and working there part time or something anyway.

i'd do it. with great pleasure.

drcrab said...

figure ah - I think it'll have to be what I already earn minus tax at a minimum (or hey, if they'll give me my gross pay and not tax me on it, that's even better!).

Coz otherwise, I won't be able to meet the mortgage payments, food, bills, childcare (which I think I'll still stick baby into whilst I look for another job, and besides, I think he benefits immensely from nursery - he learns alot there).

How about you?

drcrab said...

oh - another thing, wanted to add that I don't know about now, but I do know that in previous recession, architect students who have to do training before they qualify as architects were also doing 'free work', as practices couldn't afford to pay them, but the students couldn't afford not to have 'practical experience' (since that's part of the course).

And rumours have it that there was one practice in London that was so popular then that there were students paying the practice to have their internship there!

C K said...

@Digital Polariods,
I don't think that would be possible in Singapore as well. You would be told politely shown the door.


@karinuslai,
Apparently a number of UK law firms have started reducing headcount. Hope that your friends are still hanging on.

Assuming with 10k, I would assume that you'll head back home for the time being, yah?


@drcrab,
Hey, that's not exactly taking a paycut, it that? lol.

I heard that the childcare over here in the UK has much more activities as compared to back home. A Singaporean friend of mine has her kids in the nursury told me the same as well.

Not surprised that many actually work for free just to get something on the resume. That's provided the employers are actually decent enough to teach the interns something.

For me... hmm, I don't really need much. Say 20k before taxes? I'll rent a small place with a small patch of land in the countryside and grow my own food. :p

Little Miss Random said...

As a fellow Singaporean in London who was recently made redundant, I'd say, if my company had made me that offer, and I had a guaranteed position in one year's time, I would have taken it, although £10k isn't enough to live on for a year if you don't have any savings and, presumably, still have student debts to pay off. The only reason I would have taken it would be the guarantee of employment in 12 months time.

And I am totally in agreement with Dutchie's point. I'm rather tired of people telling me I should take the opportunity to just pack it all in and go backpacking around the world at this point. The economy's incredibly uncertain. If I did something as reckless as embarking on a heapload of travelling (something I've always wanted to do) and came back, close to broke and still no job in sight, I'd only have myself to blame for being in that predicament. Now if I knew I'd get a job at the end of my travels, it'd be a different matter entirely.

But then again, I am a workaholic, and have been for more than five years now, so although it's good to be getting a bit of a break now, it sometimes feels like I've forgotten how to relax!

C K said...

@Miss Random,
Sorry to hear that.

But I would think that there's nothing guaranteed these days. I mean, the company (unless it's one of those 'too big to fail' type) might not even exist a year later, who knows? So it might be better to take the redundency package and walk away. At least you'll have some dough in your pocket.

The funny thing about travelling round the world is that you would never want to travel when times are bad (like now) for the fear of lack of resources. Then again, when times are good and you're really busy, taking extended period off for travelling isn't possible as well, which is an irony. I guess some of us are just hotwired not to take it easy.

Well, let us know about your travels if you do decide to embark on one. And it's definitely great to have you stop by. :)