For the nation’s many young lawyers, the prospect of finding a good job is alarmingly dismal. As a result of the ultra-competitive marketplace and high volume of new graduates, many young lawyers will often work for a period of time in unpaid, intern-like positions. But recently, an Adelaide law firm announced its intention to offer law students a new way to set themselves apart from the pack. Basically, the scheme involved paying for a position in exchange for work experience and educational credits.

The Adlawgroup was openly criticised for its plans to introduce a two-year ‘pay-for-your-job’ scheme. The firm intended to charge law graduates $22,000 for work experience that would eventually lead to them gaining a practising certificate.

The controversial scheme marks a serious turning point for a profession that prides itself on professionalism and integrity. As such, the plans have drawn the ire of the Law Society of South Australia. In an open letter to the Adlawgroup’s directors, the Law Society identified a number of concerns related to the ethics and fairness of such a scheme.

After an open inquiry into the matter, the Law Society remains unconvinced that their core concerns have been addressed. But President Rocco Perrotta says the organisation is remaining open-minded about the proposal. “The Law Society has little information about this proposed new structure,” Mr Perrotta told the ABC. “[The new proposal] is quite different to what they previously informed us of, so we’ve still got some concerns about what they’ve put to us, but we don’t want to suggest that there’s anything necessarily wrong. We just have to go back to the drawing board and have a look at the model.”

Under the new proposal, the Law Society believes Adlawgroup would function as a recruitment agency and not as an independent firm. A new plan, developed in partnership with Adelaide firm WBH Legal, will be based around a two-year employment pathway program called “Getting Started In Law”.

In a statement to the media, Adlawgroup defended their decision to implement such a program: “We believe that the Law Society has not fully understood our business model,” the statement reads. “The principals will continue to engage with the Law Society, but will not launch Adlawgroup until they can provide participants with complete confidence in the program.”

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