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Freshfields becomes first magic circle firm to launch apprenticeships

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It could be set to offer training contracts in new Manchester office too

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is poised to become the first magic circle law firm to offer legal apprenticeships, with the global giant earmarking their Manchester office as the prospective launch site.

According to legal website Lawyer2B (registration required) the scheme is set to be launched within “the next 12 months” but details regarding the number of places on offer, start dates and pay are still to be finalised. It is understood that the elite outfit will provide apprenticeship routes to both paralegal and solicitor level.

Currently, there are two types of apprenticeship stream on offer from City law firms. There is the traditional apprenticeship — which results in non-graduate qualification as a chartered legal executive, an alternative type of lawyer. And then there’s a new government-backed ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeship, which includes earn-while-you-learn LLBs and results in direct qualification as a solicitor.

A spokesperson for Freshfields told Legal Cheek:

We’re looking at a number of ways to attract talented people in Manchester and the apprenticeship model is one that we are hoping to be able to offer later this year.

If given the green light, Freshfields would be the first magic circle outfit to join the likes of Mayer Brown and Eversheds. The London office of international outfit Mayer Brown unveiled a tie-up with the University of Law (ULaw) last summer to create a first of its kind, earn-while-you learn “articled apprenticeship” programme.

More recently, Eversheds has also embraced the apprenticeship movement, opening applications for its first Trailblazer apprentices this month. Run in partnership with BPP University Law School, the initial eight cohort is due to start this September.

Finally, it is also rumoured that the magic circle firm is mulling over the idea of offering training contracts at its Manchester hub.

The firm, which currently offers around 80 training contracts at its London office, revealed last October that it was in the process of doubling its presence within the northern city and is moving to its new 80,000 sq ft of space in One New Bailey in early 2017.

Don’t apply immediately, however, as the report does stress that a training contract offering up north is “unlikely to happen in the short term”.