Traineeships meet­ing skill short­age for legal firms

The Advertiser - Careers - - Vocational Education - CARA JENKIN CareerOne Edi­tor

SCHOOL leavers are be­ing trained in legal sec­re­tar­ial and ad­min­is­tra­tive work to ad­dress a ‘‘se­ri­ous’’ short­age of skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced work­ers in South Aus­tralia.

It is also giv­ing many young peo­ple a ‘‘back door’’ en­try into the pro­fes­sion, giv­ing them work, con­tacts and on-the-job ex­pe­ri­ence while they un­der­take a law de­gree.

Karen Betro, man­ag­ing part­ner with spe­cial­ist hu­man re­source man­age­ment con­sul­tancy christie&betro , says skill short­ages have be­come a ‘‘fact of life’’ for most pro­fes­sions, in­clud­ing law.

‘‘Try­ing to re­cruit skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tants and ad­min­is­tra­tive staff has be­come dif­fi­cult for legal firms and, in some cases, has re­sulted in a bid­ding war for tal­ented peo­ple,’’ she says.

The short­age is the worst ex­pe­ri­enced by the in­dus­try in many years, she says.

‘‘Some years ago there were legal and com­mer­cial col­leges in Ade­laide that helped meet this de­mand,’’ she says. ‘‘They no longer ex­ist so now we have to find new ways to train peo­ple for these roles.’’

The com­pany has joined with legal firm Wall­mans Lawyers to de­velop a trainee pro­gram for school leavers.

It of­fers Cer­tifi­cate III to Di­ploma level qual­i­fi­ca­tions in such ar­eas as legal ad­min­is­tra­tion, busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, front­line man­age­ment, hu­man re­sources and fi­nance. On-the-job train­ing at the law firm com­ple­ments study.

Wall­mans Lawyers a n d c h r i s t i e & b e t r o want the traineeships to be the start of a long-term ca­reer for young peo­ple and will en­cour­age those who are in­ter­ested in un­der­tak­ing study for a legal de­gree or fur­ther busi­ness or para-legal qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Wall­mans chief ex­ec­u­tive Cather­ine Schultz says the traineeships pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for school­leavers to de­velop skills but also cre­ates a pool of tal­ent for the firm.

‘‘We would hope many of the trainees will con­tinue their ca­reers at Wall­mans but if not, they are well placed to fill the skills short­age and gain em­ploy­ment in an­other firm,’’ she says.

‘‘Wall­mans has re­cruited seven ad­min­is­tra­tive staff trainees in the past 12 months, with one trainee now con­sid­er­ing pur­su­ing the study of law in a part-time ca­pac­ity.’’

Lisa Collins, 20, started the trainee­ship last year and works for a se­nior part­ner in Wall­mans Tax­a­tion and Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Law prac­tice.

She says she al­ways wanted to study law and she was able to gain work ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore com­mit­ting to higher ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘Wall­mans pro­vides a great en­vi­ron­ment in which to work, quickly pro­gress­ing you through the firm and de­vel­op­ing your skills,’’ she says.

Danielle Mur­phy, 24, started a trainee­ship in 2007 then se­cured a full-time ad­min­is­tra­tive role at the firm’s med­i­cal law prac­tice.

‘‘I am cer­tain that my year as a trainee greatly as­sisted me in se­cur­ing a per­ma­nent full-time role with the firm,’’ she says.

‘‘It rep­re­sents a won­der­ful en­trylevel op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple in­ter­ested in the legal pro­fes­sion, en­abling them to spend a year or two mov­ing around a law firm to get good ex­po­sure in a va­ri­ety of roles be­fore choos­ing a par­tic­u­lar direc­tion.’’

Work­ers prefer­ably need to fin­ish Year 12, be in­ter­ested in the legal in­dus­try and have ba­sic ad­min­is­tra­tive skills to ob­tain a trainee­ship.

Pic­ture: Bren­ton Ed­wards

Legal ad­min­is­tra­tion trainees at Wall­mans Lawyers Anna Maria Palma, Jessica Burchell, Lisa Col­lina and Danielle Mur­phy.

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