Savings and Banking - Your money

Launch of firm planning to charge desperate graduates for jobs dumped

AN AUSTRALIAN law firm that planned to make graduates pay $22,000 for a job has abandoned the project admitting the proposal was an “elitist solution”.

In mid-2015, partners of WBH Legal in South Australia announced the establishment of a new firm which promised budding lawyers a unique opportunity.

Adlawgroup would give a small group of graduates their first job, with on-the-job training for two years, in exchange for the five-figure sum.

The idea was touted as a direct response to the current graduate job opportunity pool, where an oversupply of qualified young lawyers and an industry that hasnt quite bounced back from the global financial crisis had led to a shortage of jobs for graduates.

At the time, the firm denied the project was taking an unfair or predatory advantage of a dire situation to get new lawyers to buy a job. Rather, it said it was an exercise in participating in a unique opportunity to create new jobs and open up new markets.

But the would-be partners in the new firm have now admitted their idea was a dud. Desperate graduates will have to go about landing their first job the old fashioned way.

In a statement sent to, the firms spokeswoman, Tina Hailstone, said: WBH Legal has decided not to proceed with the Adlawgroup project and the new firm will not be established.

The new firms establishment was pending analysis and approval by the Law Society of South Australia, which last year blocked Adlawgroup from launching, saying its program was not consistent with an employment relationship.

While WBH had been working to address the proposed fee for participation, it failed to find a solution.

A number of options have been explored. However, the concept is not economically viable without asking the participating new lawyers to invest in their own futures, Ms Hailstone said.

While there were a significant number of applicants willing to pay the participation fee; the partners recognise that this carried the unpalatable consequence of creating an elitist solution to the fundamental problem of too many graduates and too few opportunities in law.

The firm was previously defensive of its controversial business model, dismissing critics as not having a full understanding.

It faced significant criticism for the programs high entry fee, and was last year blocked from launching in its proposed firm following a review by the South Australian Law Society.

Following the Law Societys verdict, the firm revealed it had been exploring the possibility of having the partners of WBH Legal absorbing most of the costs of participation themselves.

Partners hoped to be able to offer new lawyers the opportunity to invest in their own future careers, and receive on-the-job training while fulfilling the two years supervised employment required of SA lawyers before they allowed to practice independently.

In an earlier interview, Ms Hailstone told there had been more than 25 applicants for the program before its ad was removed from job search site Seek after just one day, and that those who got to the final interview stage were disappointed it was not going ahead.

The opportunities for graduates arent there. The situation is getting worse and my view is this is an effect that you get when you turn professional education into a commodity, she said.

In its statement, WBH Legal said it was willing to engage with like-minded firms in the wider discussion on how the issues of graduate unemployment and access to legal services should be addressed in the future.

Figures indicate graduate employment is at a record low in the legal field, with more than a quarter (25.9 per cent) of grads unable to secure fulltime employment within four months of finishing uni, according to Graduate Careers Australia.

The crazy life and death of disgraced stockbroker to the stars dana giacchetto

BEFORE going to prison, Dana Giacchetto used to hang out with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, supermodel Naomi Campbell and rapper Q-Tip.

On Sunday, after a weekend of drug-fuelled partying, the disgraced former money manager was found dead face up in his Manhattan apartment, foaming at the mouth. He was 53.

Variously referred to as the stockbroker to the stars or the real wolf of wall street, the hard-partying Giacchetto rose to fame in the late 90s due to his incredible list of celebrity clients.

Most famously, a young Leo briefly lived with Giacchetto in his vast SoHo penthouse, just as the baby-faced actor was shooting to global superstardom off the back of Titanic.

The former investment banker, whose work and education history was dubious at best, formed his company, Cassandra Group, in 1988 using a $US200,000 loan from his mother.

He used his connections in the music industry to begin working with Sub Pop records, whose acts included Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alanis Morissette, Phish, Q-Tip and R.E.M.

By the mid-90s, his client list included other young Hollywood stars including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Cameron Diaz, Tobey Maguire and Heather Graham.

He and DiCaprio hosted lavish parties featuring a whos who of film, fashion and finance at the time, including Andrew Cuomo, Kate Moss, Winona Ryder and Morissette.

That all came crashing down in 2000, when he was arrested for securities fraud for stealing $US10 million from a number of those clients.

I was someone who was extraordinarily successful, beyond his wildest dreams, and I flew too close to the sun and, you know, got really burned, he told Vice in 2014.

Ex-client Victoria Leacock Hoffman told Vice: Dana Giacchetto was managing my savings, and he took half of my account and put it in his own account.

He somehow wanted to make sure they knew they were making money, so he would take the poor persons money and give it to the richer person. He was living an extremely lavish lifestyle, [so] he either paid himself very well, or some of that money got spent.

Giacchetto was found guilty the following year and sentenced to 57 months prison. His clients left, and despite being released early for good behaviour, he never recovered.

His later ventures, including a music gig phone app in partnership with Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt and a line of luxury food items, never took off.

I have no excuses! he said at his sentencing. I lived in a world of fantasy, but I am not this one-dimensional mendacious con.

Things got worse, when in 2014 he was hit with charges of wire fraud and access device fraud after allegedly making thousands of dollars of purchases on a New Jersey mans credit card.

The New York Post reports his death comes after a weekend of partying when we was seen scuffling with security guards outside a nightclub on Friday night at the premiere party for the movie Legends of Freestyle.

Police confirmed he was found dead at his apartment on West 100th Street at noon on Sunday. The cause of death has not been confirmed but police said he was found face up foaming at the mouth.

Sources said Giacchetto had overdosed on drugs a week before his death and he was rushed to the hospital where he was given an adrenaline save shot.

He had been abusing pills and alcohol, one friend said. Hed had different stints in the hospital recently.

His estranged girlfriend, with whom he had two children, became worried when she couldnt get hold of him and started calling friends on Saturday night.

Steve Stanulis, who produced, directed and narrated Legends of Freestyle, confirmed Giacchetto had attended the premiere and party, and added: I am devastated, he was a dear friend.