Simmons & Simmons ditches MBA for future trainees

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By Thomas Connelly on

Bespoke legal masters introduced in 2009 to be replaced by new “Trainee Skills Academy”


International law firm Simmons & Simmons has confirmed that it will no longer provide a Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme for its future trainees.

Launched in 2009 and made compulsory for all Simmons’ newbies by 2012, the bespoke legal MBA was operated in conjunction with BPP Law School.

According to reports at the time, Simmons — that offers around 38 training contracts annually — covered “the full cost of the course fees” and provided future lawyers at the firm with a maintenance grant of £15,000 to cover “living expenses. Fees for a similar legal MBA at BPP will set you back a cool £25,000.

Having undertaken a review of the firm’s “development offering”, Simmons has decided to scrap its compulsory MBA in favour of a new “Trainee Skills Academy”.

Trainees — who will join the new academy at the start of their Legal Practice Course (LPC) — will learn and develop a broad range of business skills to adequately prepare them for the rigours of commercial law. With BPP providing academic support, the the first batch of wannabe lawyers to complete the course in full will start this September.

All future Simmons trainees will however have the option to complete their business MA post LPC.

Hoping to build upon the the success of the MBA — which the firm was one of the first in the City to implement — Alan Gar, graduate recruitment and development partner, said:

As part of our investment in our people and their future careers with us, we are committed to developing a high performance culture and fostering innovation. We recognise the importance of developing not only technical skills, but also business and commercial acumen, client relationship skills and personal skills such as self-management, communication and resilience. The early adoption of the MBA was a great success and has enabled us, in creating the Skills Academy, to provide a more blended approach and programme that is relevant, bespoke and tailored to our trainees’ needs looking ahead.

Earlier this year the international law firm sparked controversy, following accusations that it tweaked its spring trainee retention figure. Trumpeting a so so result of 78% — with a trainee cohort of nine — a number of publications have since suggested that the international heavyweight started with out with 13 newbies. If correct, this would give the firm a retention rate of just 54%.