Legal Apprenticeships gather momentum

NB: this article is reproduced from the Messenger magazine (Oct 2012) with the kind permission of the Manchester Law Society.

Earlier this year we ran stories about how Horwich Farrelly and St Johns Buildings have successfully used apprenticeships as part of their strategy to attract, develop and retain talented people in non-legal roles.

Having seen at first hand how the legal sector can benefit from the wealth of enthusiasm, energy and potential of young people from our region, The Manchester Law Society has been working with specialist training provider Damar Training and the National Apprenticeship Service to try and generate 100 apprenticeship positions with law firms in 2012. We are currently on track to hit this target. Indeed, the trend for firms to look at apprenticeships as a part of their strategy has gathered pace in the last month with the news that Plexus and Kennedys have both launched sizeable apprenticeship programmes, in each case in partnership with Damar and ILEX Tutorial College.

The breakthrough seems to have been the emergence of a legal apprenticeship “pathway” that firms can use to take new and existing employees from legal administration roles right the way up to paralegal fee-earner. This fits the needs of firms who are seeing a growth in the number of paralegal staff, coupled with a wish for a more diverse workforce.  At the same time, the number of bright ambitious young people who have made a conscious decision not to go to university has increased. Take 18 year old Christopher Helme, who left Stockport Grammar School earlier this year and has been taken on by Kennedys:

“I was attracted to Kennedys because they are a top law firm offering a real alternative to the university route which, after the increase in tuition fees, could result in a debt of £50,000 or more. With an apprenticeship I have the opportunity to acquire practical skills and real work experience alongside qualifications. I feel so privileged to have been given this opportunity.”

Jonathan Bourne, MD at Damar Training, who helped manage  the recruitment process and are providing the assessment and training said:

“We suspected that there would be strong interest from young people but the number and calibre of applicants has demonstrated what a great opportunity this is for firms. Although still very new, the legal apprenticeship pathway has the potential to become a real alternative to the traditional routes into the profession.”

The next big step will be the launch of the new higher apprenticeship in legal services in March 2013 and, also next year, an advanced apprenticeship in legal services. For potential apprentices and firms keen to find out more a new website has been launched at www.legalhigherapprenticeships.com/learners. Alternatively you can contact Jonathan Bourne at Damar on 0161 480 8171.

Legal apprentices at Kennedys

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