Job reject takes on law firms over age “discrimination”

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Andrew McSorleyBy Michael MacLeod

A LAW graduate claims he was refused a job because he is a 37 year-old man and not a young woman.

Andrew McSorley is angry that law firms have a “fixation” with employing freshly qualified graduates, rather than older people with more experience.

He claims he is taking on three firms for discrimination and yesterday (Monday) launched a case against Edinburgh commercial legal firm Tods Murray LLP.

Their traineeships are so popular that places for 2011 have already been filled.

But when Mr McSorley applied last year, he claims the firm took three separate letters to give a good reason as to why he shouldn’t get the job.

Now he plans to use statistics to prove he was unfairly rejected, claiming young females have a better chance of securing legal jobs for no apparent reason.

Tods Murray lawyers insist they turned his application down because he did not have a 2:1 degree.
But having secured a Bachelor of Laws diploma via a fast-track course, Mr McSorley, of Lanarkshire, is adamant he is as qualified as any degree-holding graduate.

And Mr McSorley is so confident in his legal knowledge and abilities that he refused the option to get a lawyer for the case, instead opting to take them on alone.

And Glasgow Caledonian University, where he studied, states on its website that his qualification “undoubtedly remains one of the elite degrees, carrying great weight with employers and Law firms.”

Speaking at an employment tribunal in Edinburgh yesterday, Mr McSorley said: “I found out that the oldest applicant they took on was 26, which was 10 years older than I was at the time.

“My formal submission is that the only reason I was rejected was because I was 36 years of age.

“I’m in an age-group that is statistically far less likely to possess a 2:1 degree, but I am now adequately qualified and have great previous experience.

“But having never been offered an interview in two years of applying, I reached the end of my tether.

“I was concerned that there was a fixation with having an honours degree, so I canvassed a number of other law firms and got confirmation that I have a qualification equal to the honours degree.”

Tods Murray’s legal agent Chris Leitch stated: “Our website clearly states: “Please note that you are required to have a minimum degree classification of a 2:1 in order to apply.”

“This statement was there for all applicants to read.”

Now Mr McSorley faces a two-week wait to find out whether employment judge Victor Craig will agree to hear his case in full.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The Bar Council recognised what they described as ‘rampant’ age discrimination in the selection of graduating students seeking pupillages. The survey results were published in Counsel Magazine in May 1998, and a follow up survey was published in 2002. The statistics are there for anyone to see and I do not imagine they would be different in the selection of trainee solicitors. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any formal studies for trainees as the Law Society ‘s chief executive Janet Paraskeva (now working for the Government in the Olympics) refused to recognise age discrimination. The Law Society did not outlaw age discrimination in the selection of trainee solicitors or solictors until it was forced to because of the Age Regulations of 1 October 2006. The Law Society waited another six months after the passage of the legislation before updating its own code of conduct and would not investigate any complaints from 1 October 2006 (when the legislation was in force) until July 2007.

    Despite no formal research on the subject of trainee solicitors (it is not in the interest of the legal profession to have one) there is plenty of anecdotal evidence. A student of the College of Law in London attempted to get Legal Aid to sue the College in negligence in 2002. The ground of the action was that the College holds itself up as an expert in the provision of training contracts and legal education, yet did not warn older students about the reality of the market for them. Although the student had to drop the case for lack of funds (the Legal Aid panel was split in its vote), the College of Law contacted the former student to confirm they would be warning students prior to payment of tuition. The reason negligence was selected as the proper ground was that such information could reasonably be expected to influence the decision of a right minded person as to whether or not they wish to pay a lot of money to take the course.

    I do not know if the College of Law ever followed up on this and whether it is still warning older students or ever have warned them.

    The question I hope Mr McSorley will have asked the law firm is the percentage of trainees or solicitors engaged by the firm over the past 5 or 10 years who had gained a 2.1% and were 35 or over and were recruited.

    Yours sincerely,

    Joyce Glasser

  2. It’s ok. Any decent human being would be ashamed to be associated with a company like Tods Murray . They like the trainees young so they can manipulate and mould them into money grabbing, soul selling, partnership seekers who will do anything to impress their elders. (Morality doesn’t do that.)

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