Fieldfisher and Gowling WLG embrace solicitor apprenticeship movement as ULaw launches new six-year training programme

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It will include SRA super-exam prep

Corporate duo Fieldfisher and Gowling WLG have teamed up with The University of Law (ULaw) to deliver a new earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship programme that eventually leads to qualification as a solicitor.

The new course, officially launched last month, sees school leavers complete a combination of paid paralegal/trainee-level work at their firm and academic study at one of ULaw’s campuses.

The six year-programme will prepare apprentices to sit both their law degrees and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). The latter is often dubbed the super-exam and is scheduled to come into force in September 2020. Apprentices who successfully complete the SQE will then be entitled to apply to the SRA to become fully-fledged solicitors.

The entry requirements for the scheme are three A-levels at A to C or equivalent, but each firm can set its own criteria providing the applicant is not below this minimum.

Embracing the new route to qualification, two existing employees at Fieldfisher started ULaw’s apprenticeship programme last month, one based in London and one in Manchester. Emma Cox, head of human resources at the firm, said:

Ensuring that we have diversity of talent is increasingly important… The government has been incredibly forward thinking in incentivising companies to take on apprentices and we would certainly urge others to embrace them as we have.

Meanwhile, Gowling WLG has revealed it is sponsoring three apprentices. The trio are based at the outfit’s Birmingham office and have already completed paralegal apprenticeships. Gowling WLG’s early talent resourcing manager, Lucy Dolan, said: “We look forward to supporting them as they embark on this new venture.”

ULaw has confirmed that 28 apprentices have started its new alternative route to solicitor qualification this year. Other notable firms to sign up this year include personal injury specialist Plexus Law.

Last month, Legal Cheek reported that international law firm Withers had signed a similar apprenticeship training deal with BPP Law School. The outfit — known for its private client and wealth management expertise — confirmed that four apprentices had started the six-year course.

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Six years slave labour…on below average pay…only to be binned at the end for someone cheaper…

It’s like something out of Dickens.

Go full-time to uni, have a great time, and tell them to ram it.


STI & Banter Brigade

Hear hear. Uni lyfe is the best



Seems people don’t want to give these apprenticeships a chance. I for one am looking at it seriously as an AS level student. Why should I go to uni and incur a £27,000 debt over three years when I can qualify as a solicitor in 6 years whilst earning? Do I expect a trainee salary, no, but the salaries I’ve seen advertised are for paralegal bands. Salaries that many LPC graduates take when waiting for that coveted TC. You may be ‘binned’ at the end of the 6 years but then you’ve qualified, same as any other trainee not retained, and can go into the marketplace as an NQ. Also, if ‘Uni lyfe is the best’, why can’t you spell?



Don’t grow up too fast kiddo. Take time to smell the roses.

Grow. Develop. Be spontaneous.



A mere £27k ? You’ll be lucky sunshine (unless you’re off to the University of the Outer Hebrides) !



You can easily be binned before the 6 years is up. There is not the same protection as someone would have as a trainee under a period of recognised training (well for the time being anyway). And if that is the case, you’d then be struggling to find another firm to support the apprenticeship.



Go travelling instead. Set up an online business. Keep travelling. Live a life. Make something of yourself.



This will surely lower standards. These legal apprenticeships will only appeal to hustlers who are only in it for the money. University is humbling experience most graduates realise this when they realise that most employers do not give a f**k about how much essays you have done, how many hours spent listening to vacillating lecturers, and studying for useless exams. Evidently, in my experience working as a pupilage interviewer , most graduates are humble and are willing to do absolutely anything for a pupilage. That is the way I like it. I like those pretty young things who realise the need to humbly go down before they go up. This apprenticeship will only appeal to self entitled jumped up drop outs, who think low pay is enough of a sacrifice to enjoy the lucrative rewards of being a lawyer.



There are thousands of qualified lawyers who have earned whilst they learn… it is far from the easier option. Many senior partners did this under the old regime and ultimately the best training is experiential. Having worked with a number of legal apprentices I can confirm they are some of the best trainers I have encountered. As for the slave labour allegation.. get your facts right…



They take your youth and your freedom for buttons

Think carefully…



“personal injury specialist Plexus Law.”

Self-inflicted injury to work there mate.



Two early and positive observations about our new apprentice scheme: 1) the diversity of candidates is much broader, with a pool of applicants from a variety of backgrounds on a genuinely level playing field, and 2) their working hours are restricted, so beasting is prohibited (for example, they have to take a lunch break and leave by 5.30)… not sure how that will play out in the long run but it’s hardly slave labour!


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