Traineeships meeting skill shortage for legal firms
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.
Legal administration trainees at Wallmans Lawyers Anna Maria Palma, Jessica Burchell, Lisa Collina and Danielle Murphy.