The Solicitors Regulation Authority is to withdraw from the Voluntary Code to good practice in the recruitment of trainee solicitors from the end of March 2015.
The regulator said it had made the decision because “it is not its regulatory role to be involved in deciding the dates and processes by which individual employers and employees make recruitment choices”.
The SRA insisted that the decision to withdraw had been taken “after careful review and discussion with other signatories to the code”.
It added that even with its involvement, the code had always been voluntary, and universities and employers might continue to comply with the code in future if they wished.
Other signatories to the Voluntary Code to good practice in the recruitment of trainee solicitors are the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS); the Association of Graduate Recruiters; and the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD).
The Code – amongst other things – encourages law firms to wait until students’ final year of undergraduate study before making official training contract offers. In return it suggests students hold no more than two offers at any one time and promply reject excess offers.
In a joint statement AGCAS and the JLD said they were disappointed at the SRA’s decision and hoped it would reconsider, although they admitted this looked unlikely.
“We want to take this opportunity to restate our commitment to the principles of the Code,” ACGAS and the JLD said.
“We will be looking at its content to update it in line with modern recruitment practices. The JLD and AGCAS want to ensure that those who follow the Code are not put in a less favourable position than those who do not.
“If the SRA does remove itself, we will be considering the possibility of alternative signatories to ensure the survival of this Code, in order to promote continued fair recruitment practices across the country.”