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

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By Thomas Connelly on

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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