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First ever City law firm business school trains up 250 junior lawyers to advise start-ups

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Programme is part of wider corporate law drive to up-skill trainees

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The City’s first law firm business school is set to spur a host of rivals as corporate solicitors wake up to the need to educate new recruits in the ways of the commercial world.

Hogan Lovells‘ Business and Social Enterprise training program (HL BaSE) — which teaches trainees and junior lawyers about the basics of business, and provides them with the tools to go on and advise start-ups — has trained up 250 rookies within the first year of its existence.

And it’s proving to be quite the success. HL BaSE has allowed the firm to expand its legal advice and business support practice to 60 social enterprises, creating over 80 jobs in the space of four years. The lawyers involved have provided more than 2,700 hours of legal advice, facilitating £4.1 million of investment.

Law firm strategy consultant Richard Tromans predicts that more firms could be set to follow, telling Legal Cheek:

I expect every large firm to develop internal business training courses or at least form arrangements with educational training courses, and it’s likely that they are doing this already.

Tromans added:

It’s a virtuous circle. The central point is this is an investment. Law school teaches you how to be a lawyer but it doesn’t teach you specifically about business, but the problem is that clients need lawyers with business acumen… Lawyers that have gone on to prosper are those that understand business.

HL BaSE’s growth, and other projects like Norton Rose Fulbright‘s trainee solicitor coding classes and sector knowledge courses, coincide with technological developments in the fields of law and finance that are highly relevant to trainee solicitors.

The commoditisation of legal work — with lower level tasks previously done by trainees being outsourced to paralegals and even robots — is driving firms to up-skill their graduate recruits so they can offer a better service to clients.

Meanwhile, a burgeoning fintech scene — defined of late by a wave of acquisitions of London tech-start-ups by banks — has reminded City firms of the importance of getting close to early phase companies. The best people to do this are trainees and junior lawyers, whose peers set up and work in these start-ups.

And City law millennials are increasingly expecting this sort of exposure in a world where career paths often don’t lead to firms’ partnerships. As Allen & Overy trainee Disha Gulati put it on Legal Cheek last year:

A good degree is like a visa: it will get you in the door, but you need a passport to stay. The stamp of a good university, or for that matter, a good corporate takes you far in life. The experience gained can convert your visa to a passport; the skills you learn along the way can put you in great stead for a career in many industries.