A group of trainees at Eversheds has set up a series of seminars to help young professionals succeed at one of the hardest ever times for graduates and trainees in the sector.
Rachel Ferguson, Hannah Jones and Nathan Pritchard set up the events to help out fellow trainees, shortly after their own firm joined a growing list of legal employers being forced to cut back on recruiting new trainees.
The Eversheds trio said that in these difficult times their peer group may need more help and support than previous generations as they try to establish and build their careers.
The aim of the series is to focus on broad issues which will impact upon young professionals at the start of their careers. The three topics covered by the first series are the future of Birmingham, the recession, and the impact of green business. The attendees will represent a select group of talented individuals from both professional services and major corporates in the West Midlands.
Each talk is hosted by a prominent member of the Birmingham business community.
Ms Ferguson, who is reaching the end of a two-year training period at Eversheds, said: “The idea came about because we are at the start of our careers here, we are coming to the end of our training and get invited to a lot of events to do with our specialism, but there weren’t many talks about being a junior business person in general.
“There was nothing about the issues that face us, especially at a time like this, in a recession.
I think it’s a difficult time and just to learn a bit about what juniors can actually do for their firms is a good thing.”
Eversheds corporate partner James Trevis said: “This is a great example of young people helping each other to help themselves.
“In a difficult job market it’s more important than ever for individuals to embrace some of these wider issues that will be debated. It is also important that we do what we can to encourage those who are committed to building their careers in the region so that we retain that talent”.
Things have been difficult for trainees in the legal sector recently – not least at Eversheds.
The firm recently announced it would be asking nearly half of its trainees to defer their starting date to 2010 in return for a £5,000 payoff.
It is looking to defer 31 out of 73 trainees who were set to join over the next year. It is also offering the option of a 12- month contract as a paralegal with the firm. And it has effectively suspended its graduate recruitment scheme for the moment.
And Shoosmiths, which has a major office on Colmore Row in Birmingham, has asked its 20 intake of trainees to wait a year or more before starting at the firm. The firm is looking to cut its 20 trainees set to start in 2009 to ten, and has asked the 20 people set to start in September to consider deferring their contracts for a year or two.
The company said if there were not enough volunteers, it would consider compulsory redundancies, and is also offering the option to withdraw completely from planned training contracts.
The first seminar was held yesterday. The next, featuring will be held at the Eversheds office on May 28.