If you are interested in seeking a secondment or curious as to why a secondment can be a good idea to further your training, the information you need is outlined here.
Why seek a secondment?
A secondment is an opportunity for you, during the course of your training, to work elsewhere. This work can be in Ireland or abroad and need not be in a solicitor’s office. In order to go on secondment, you must demonstrate that the work would be advantageous to further your education or training (or both) and to your preparation for admission to the solicitors’ profession.
The secondment should be undertaken in one block. There is no minimum time limit but a secondment cannot be for more than six or eight months (depending on your particular Indenture Deed). As you are required to spend 11 months in the office of your training solicitor between PPC I and PPC II, secondments are generally undertaken after PPC II. However, there is some flexibility to this rule. The needs of your office will have to be considered together with the demands of the secondment placement.
There is an exciting range of work that can be undertaken during the course of a secondment and no limit to what would be considered suitable providing it satisfies the test set out above. A secondment could be an opportunity for you to experience a totally new area of law, or a new culture if taken abroad. It could help you in shaping your career without burning any bridges or having to make any major commitments. A secondment is only temporary. You always have the security of knowing that you return to the office of your training solicitor when the secondment is over.
Are secondments compulsory?
In some cases secondments are compulsory, particularly if your training solicitor cannot offer you experience in the key areas of legal practice. If your training solicitor cannot offer you experience in the key areas, they are required to declare this to the Law Society when seeking consent to enter into Indentures. Your training solicitor should also assist you in finding a suitable secondment.
Payment for secondments
Generally, your secondment placement will pay you rather than your training solicitor.
Consent to go on secondment
If you would like to explore the possibility of going on secondment, you should first talk to your training solicitor. Ultimately, applications to go on secondment require the consent of the Law Society. Before any request to go on secondment is granted, the Law Society will check that the application has the consent of the training solicitor. There is no obligation on a training solicitor to allow you to go on secondment. For many practices, it would be unworkable for a trainee to be absent from the office for a lengthy period of time. Training solicitors are already under an obligation to release trainees onto the PPC II. For this reason, if you have an interest in undertaking a secondment, this should be explored with your training solicitor at the earliest opportunity. With careful planning, it might be possible for you to find someone to replace you to help ensure agreement to the project.
Applications for secondments are submitted to the Law Society through the Traineeship Section and require three letters:
- one from you seeking the consent,
- one from your training solicitor consenting to the proposed secondment, and
- one from the person to whom you plan is to be seconded.
All letters must give details as to when the secondment is due to start and finish and provide details of how it is hoped to help the applicant and what experience or training they will receive.
Applications must be submitted to the Traineeship Section well in advance of the proposed secondment. Please note that it is a requirement of the Indenture Deed that you are in the office of your training solicitor on a “continuous and full-time” basis. Therefore, leaving the office without the consent of the Law Society is a breach of the regulations. In addition, until consent is granted you cannot be sure that the move you seek will be approved. A refusal by the Law Society could lead to you not only breaching the Indenture Deed but also finding that the time spent at another office will be disregarded when assessing the qualification time. Applications to move should therefore be made in good time in advance of the proposed secondment.
Securing a secondment
In some cases, your training solicitor will arrange the secondment. This might be because the solicitor wishes to ensure that you receive experience in all the key areas or perhaps because of a long-standing agreement between a firm in Ireland and another firm abroad. Otherwise, finding a secondment is up to you.
The best way to secure a secondment is word-of-mouth. Talking to friends or colleagues about vacancies or opportunities is a good way to start. You can make direct contact with companies or firms but you should make it clear what you are seeking. Remember that firms can be inundated with students seeking training contracts. Consider placing an advert in the Gazette - the rates are very reasonable and the advert will reach every solicitor in the country. Firms might have a greater need for a trainee just after PPC I or PPC II has started, as their trainee may have just left them to join the course.
CV register for secondment
You can upload your CV to the Secondment and Temporary Placement CV register (currently offline).
This register can be searched by solicitors who are members of the Law Society - it is only accessible in a secure area and the search requires a member login.