Simmons & Simmons ditches MBA for future trainees

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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%.



This article is just meaningless jargon. What specifically did they do before, and what practical changes have they made now?



They paid for MBAs. Now they don’t want to.


Not Amused

🙂 – an entirely foreseeable waste of money turned out to be a waste of money.



hahaha I have spoken to some people at Simmons and it seem to be a universal consensus that the whole “MBA” thing was a an annoying, pointless waste of time.

Just imagine, say you speak to your clients from Goldmans, Boston Consulting Group or McKinsey and you bring up your “crisp” BPP MBA – you’d get laughed out of the room.



Hear hear, my mates at Simmons said literally the same thing.

Some of them even omitted putting their illustrious BPP MBA title from their CVs. Talk about an epic fail.



Obvious cost-cutting measure. It was what made S&S’s TC stand out, so it will be interesting to see if they experience a drop in applications from the best quality graduates.


Former employee

The MBA was just a big pile of marketing fluff sold to wannabe lawyer students at recruitment events.

S&S is a perfectly decent firm to do your TC at – nice offices, friendly people, plenty of quality private-educated gash, the list goes on. I really enjoyed my time there. However, I wouldn’t consider them that different from other firms and the MBA didn’t change a thing.



It’s probably not entirely a cost cutting measure.

The maths required on the MBA course was actually insane – very few people found it easy, though we are all innumerate lawyers.



I worked at Simmons a few years ago and the consensus among everyone who wasn’t directly involved with the MBA was that it was a total waste of time.

The trainees it generated weren’t any better at their jobs (in fact, given that they had projects to turn in while they were working and often considered themselves above the boring but necessary trainee tasks, they were often worse). The whole thing was originally just an excuse to defer people for a year during the credit crunch, which acquired a momentum of its own, as the people who’d spent so much of the firm’s money on its implementation couldn’t survive the loss of face inherent in pulling the plug.



Spot on, it was a cheap tactic to delay trainees from starting as it was cheaper to have them on the course for an extra year rather than lounging around in the office billing zero hours and collecting wedge during the recession. I had friends who were part of the original cohort to do this MBA, and the consensus was that it is a joke but actually not easy to pass. Imagine having to work hard to pass something that has zero market value, seriously no law firm cares about the MBA and as someone else said, the chaps at Goldmans and McKinsey aren’t going to be rushing to employ you over peeps with the CFA and Stanford/Insead MBAs.


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