DWF launches apprenticeship that stops at paralegal level

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Unlike some other law firm school-leaver schemes, course will not extend to qualification as a solicitor


National law behemoth DWF has unveiled a version of the government-backed Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme that stops short of qualification as a solicitor or chartered legal executive.

The firm’s new legal apprenticeship will be delivered in partnership with BPP University and commences this autumn with an intake of 16 school-leavers. It takes two years.

During that period, scheme participants will been given the opportunity to gain a Certificate in Higher Education — equivalent to the first year of a university degree — alongside the apprenticeship qualification.

But that will be that. Unlike other firms such as Eversheds and Mayer Brown, which aim to train their apprentices all the way up to solicitor level, DWF is stopping at the paralegal stage.

Accordingly, students with ambitions to become solicitors at the firm — which has offices in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool, alongside a centrepiece base in London’s Walkie Talkie building — would be advised to go to uni and look to secure a training contract.

DWF offers plenty of those; its 50 trainee places makes it one of the nation’s major solicitor training firms. Rookies who follow this route earn more — first year trainees at DWF pull in between £22,000-£36,000 a year — but of course carry often heavy debts from uni, something which apprentices avoid. However, apprentices earn much lower salaries, and can expect to start on not much more than the minimum wage.

DWF’s chief people office, Catherine Williams, said:

Young people are increasingly looking for alternative ways to start their careers without going down the traditional university path, and these rigorous apprenticeships will offer students from a wide variety of backgrounds the opportunity to break into the legal sector and gain valuable qualifications.



Be weary of that hidden clause which requires you to remain with the firm for the next 17 years.


Not Amused

It does not help social mobility to create a second tier of jobs specifically for kids who are born poor.



DWF class everyone who isn’t a solicitor as a paralegal (and pay them accordingly) anyway, which places the usual glass ceiling over their naïve heads already. Why you would want to join a program that doesn’t lead to a meaningful legal qualification and will ensure you’re used as cannon fodder in their legal support centre with zero chance of progress, is quite beyond me.


Laughs all throughout

I mean, it’s DWF. How is everyone surprised?

Such a boiler room.



If DWF isn’t going to train them properly (up to trainee level) then the scheme is simply a way to pay paralegals apprentice wages (less than half the minimum wage).

The poor schoolleavers will gain nothing from this. They might be drawn into it thinking it’s a route into law, not understanding that there’s no future in this scheme.



DWF have always been trash and this is just another tick for them!
School leavers do not do this!


Fellow journo

Paging Alex and Tommy:

How come the Firms Most List isn’t updated yet?

Freshies ought to be on £85k NQ
Squire Patton Boggs should be on £62k NQ
Reed Smith ought to be on £63k NQ
KWM should be on £64.5k NQ
2Birds should be on £60k NQ

Up your game lads!



Apprenticeships are a great idea until you see the wage slip.

Interested to know if ILEX funding is provided by the firm after completion of the apprenticeship or if they just cut them loose.



How disappointing to see such negativity to a great initiative. Perhaps we should wait and see the results before passing judgement. At least this firm is doing something to try and promote apprenticeships in the legal sector.



No problem with DWF using paralegal apprenticeships for business needs but it’s silly and disingenuous of the firm to present them as a diversity initiative.



Their last attempt at it, called the paralegal academy was as successful as a kardashian finding a cure for AIDS. It hadn’t even been implemented and ‘won an award’. It’s all PR bullshit and they don’t care one iota about widening access to the profession.

It is done to tick the boxes for client tenders, much like their diversity policy. It’s the poor kids who get suckered into it that loose out, they get chewed up and spat out and used as cheap labour. If they cared about apprentices they would given them an avenue to qualify as a solicitor or legal executive. Not keep them suppressed as cannon fodder for their shit volume motor teams with zero career prospects.


Banter Inspector



Acting Archbishop of Banerbury

Sadly, it’s true.



All very negative comments. It’s a shame because as an LPC grad, I was heading for a career as a paralegal, when DWF paid for me to qualify as a solicitor via the ‘equivalent means’/CILEX graduate route. That’s more than 4 other defendant firms that I had worked for ever did for me. I was pushing on an open door. And I am yet to be presented with the supposedly mandatory 4 year ‘pay us back to get out’ clause. Most of the people who complete this scheme will go on to greater things.


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