Legal apprenticeships approach a century

Reproduced with the kind permission of The Messenger.

At the time of going to press, the work of the Manchester Law Society, apprenticeship provider Damar Training and the National Apprenticeship Service has contributed to 84 apprentices starting programmes with employers in the legal sector. Including a number of upcoming vacancies the project is well on track to hit 100 apprenticeship starts over twelve months.

The vast majority of these apprenticeship places are new jobs that have been filled by young people from the North- West. They are working in a variety of roles including as legal administrators, receptionists, junior clerks, trainee legal secretaries and trainee costs draftsmen.

Growing North-West firm Forster Dean kicked off its legal apprenticeship scheme in October with the appointment of Kurtis Windrow at its Warrington office. He said: “I did well in my GCSEs but didn’t really want to stay on at school and the idea of a job combined with training really appealed to me. My ambition is to progress all the way up the legal apprenticeship pathway, to become a higher apprentice in due course and then who knows – maybe all the way to becoming a solicitor.”

It is this integration of apprenticeships at entry level with developments further up the career ladder which, longer term, may provide the biggest benefit for firms looking to develop their people. From March 2013, new and existing staff will be able to embark on the new, undergraduate level, higher apprenticeship in legal services.

Aimed at fee-earners who have come into the sector via a vocational route, the two year higher apprenticeship is initially aimed at those in contentious roles – personal injury, civil litigation, insolvency and debt recovery - although other practice areas are expected to follow. Alongside rigorous technical content, the qualification is also designed to develop apprentices’competence in areas like client care aswell as a range of wider business skills: negotiation, interview skills and planning and managing the work of a team for example. This chimes well with the thoughts of Lord Neuberger, speaking to the Association of Law Teachers on 15th November 2012:

“It seems to me that both university and non-university legal education should develop what may be characterised as professional skills to a fuller degree than currently. I have in mind topics such as professional ethics, client dealing, understanding how institutions (such as the police and prisons) work and how to deal with them, and understanding business and finance.”

If you want to find out more about the higher apprenticeship in legal services (being developed by Damar Training in partnership with Pearson in Practice, CILEx and Skills for Justice) you can visit www.legalhigherapprenticeships.com. Alternatively, call Jonathan Bourne, Damar’s Managing Director on 0161 480 8171 or visit www.damartraining.com.

For non graduates, firms are usually able to access full or partial Government funding and grants of £1,500 are available for most firms that haven’t had apprentices in the past year.

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