Kaplan exodus: Mayer Brown and Holman Fenwick leave for BPP as Penningtons chooses ULaw

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Trio pick other law schools ahead of Kaplan’s closure, but other firms commit to stay until end of 2015-16 academic year


Three more firms have ended their training deals with Kaplan Law School ahead of its closure next year, with two opting for BPP and one picking the University of Law (ULaw).

The London office of international firm Mayer Brown and City outfit Holman Fenwick Willan — both of which offer 15 training contracts per year — have moved their Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) deals to BPP. The arrangement for the firms’ future trainees start with immediate effect this month.

Meanwhile, national firm Pennington Manches, which hires 13 trainees annually, appears to have gone the other way and plumped for the University of Law, giving its lawyers-to-be the option of studying at Kaplan or ULaw this autumn. However, it won’t make a final decision about which law school to go with from 2016 until later this year.

Privately, insiders at law firms indicate that there is little to choose between GDL and LPC providers — the courses being fairly straightforward, if rigorous, box-ticking exercises that don’t offer huge scope for variation.

But Holman Fenwick has claimed that it “particularly liked some of BPP’s elective modules”, adding that the “International Trade and Transactions module is very relevant to our practice areas and then their additional options in the form of the business related Masters seemed very innovative”.

As you would expect, Pennington Manches is keeping its cards close to its chest given that its decision remains under review, while Mayer Brown appears to be playing a cute game in giving some of its business to ULaw — which handles its new “articled apprenticeship” — and the rest to BPP. The firm’s HR chief Annette Sheridan commented:

The decision about who our future LPC and GDL provider was by no means an easy one; however, having considered both options we believe BPP best meets our needs. We look forward to working with BPP and to continuing our relationship with the University of Law through on our legal apprenticeship programme.

Other firms to have left Kaplan recently include Shearman & Sterling and Trowers & Hamlins, both of which moved to ULaw, and Nabarro, which went to BPP. So, by our reckoning, that makes it BPP 3 – 3 ULaw in the great scramble for Kaplan’s business.

Kaplan’s remaining flock includes Davis Polk & Wardwell, Fieldfisher, Ince & Co, Mills & Reeve, Farrer & Co, Bates Wells Braithwaite and PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal. Kaplan has confirmed to Legal Cheek that they will definitely be staying until its law school closes at the end of the 2016 academic year.

Will one shock the market and select a provider for 2016-17 other than ULaw and BPP (of which, it can be easy to forget, there are several)?