Mayer Brown ups intake on earn-while-you-learn training contract alternative

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“High calibre of applicants” suggests new school-leaver scheme could rival traditional route


The London office of international law firm Mayer Brown has increased the intake of students doing its new earn-while-you-learn law degree and period of recognised training.

The firm unveiled the scheme — dubbed an “articled apprenticeship” — earlier this summer in a tie up with the University of Law (ULaw). It effectively allows aspiring lawyers to circumvent the training contract process and qualify as solicitors while minimising debt.

Initially Mayer Brown planned to take on just one student through the programme and not look to recruit again until summer 2016. But the firm — which has experienced disappointing retention rates recently — says that it was inundated with applications from high quality candidates. As result it has decided to take on two earn-while-you-learn starters this month and then look to bring in another next year, with the recruitment process opening in January.

The six-year programme — which has a minimum A-level entry requirement of AAB — is run in association with the University of Law (ULaw), combining a part-time undergraduate law degree followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with paid paralegal-level work. Scheme participants spend the final two years as part of the firm’s trainee group.

The successful candidates are Rosie Ahmadi, who is already at the firm in a business services apprenticeship capacity, and David Elikwu. They will be employees of Mayer Brown for the duration six-year scheme, which begins today.

Ahmadi, 20, left Southgate Secondary School in Hertfordshire in 2013 with an AAB at A-level in economics, chemistry and maths. She opted not to go to university and instead successfully applied for a business services apprenticeship at Mayer Brown later that year. Having caught the law bug she successfully obtained a Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Level 3 certificate in law and practice and decided to apply for the firm’s articled apprenticeship scheme.

Elikwu, 21, did the international baccalaureate at St Mary Magdalene Academy in London, scoring 37 points. He then began an LLB at City University in 2012, but left to intern at Google as part of its Top Black Talent programme before gaining more work experience at a firm in Shanghai.

The programme begins with the pair completing an initial nine-month rotation in Mayer Brown’s Business and Information Centre departments, before making the move into one of its legal practice areas.

Alongside this, they will have to complete their legal studies part-time. Ahmadi and Elikwu — who began the LLB at ULaw’s Bloomsbury branch last week — will then progress onto the LPC before going on to the Professional Skills Course (PSC) in their final year.

The apprentices will start on a salary of £18,000, rising over the six years to the same as second year trainees at the firm, a figure that currently stands at £45,000. Mayer Brown also revealed that it will cover the costs of the apprentice’s LPC fees, in the same way it does for trainees on the traditional qualification route.

Commenting on the appointments, Annette Sheridan, global chief HR officer at Mayer Brown, said:

The calibre of applicants who put themselves forward for this apprenticeship was extremely high, therefore we decided to offer a legal apprenticeship to two people. I am delighted to welcome our inaugural apprentices — Rosie and David — to the firm and I look forward to watching their progress as they develop their future careers.



Quite a good idea in theory – particularly to bring people in from more deprived backgrounds where university might not have been encouraged, or where financial or personal barriers might have stood in the way.

But how can Mayer Brown, with its utterly atrocious 55% retention rate this year, possibly believe that it is the best firm to be doing this? It seems to me to be a cynical ploy to grab headlines and make it look forward thinking, when in reality it is more than likely that half of the people who go through this will be left high and dry. It is no doubt better than being stuck in paralegal purgatory (although the pay is much worse, I think), but if there is no job at the end of this then the whole thing seems rather futile, especially since they will be competing for NQ jobs with traditional trainees.

But congratulations to these two – particularly Ahmadi, for whom it seems to have genuinely made a big difference in career prospects.



They can’t really be said to have left the latest cohort high and dry when they offered all but one of them a job…



erm – not a novel idea – isnt this one of the two routes to qualifying that was available in the 70s? my old Principal always said he took the apprenticeship route, rather proudly, when comparing himself to the ‘academic boys’.

seems to make sense financially and probably makes them significantly better lawyers earlier on


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