They will include super exam prep
Magic circle law firm Freshfields has revealed it will be delivering an earn-while-you-learn route to solicitor qualification within its Manchester hub.
The programme, which will be open to some of the firm’s 60 or so Manchester-based legal support assistants, builds on Freshfields’ existing paralegal scheme and will incorporate new developments to legal education, specifically the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).
Legal Cheek understands Freshfields’ latest offering will be similar to the government-backed trailblazer programme already on offer at a number of top City firms. Apprentices on the six-year scheme split their time between working at a law firm on paid paralegal/trainee-level work and completing an LLB. Successful candidates then go on to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) before qualifying as a fully-fledged solicitor.
However, change is afoot. Last April the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed it would be replacing traditional routes to qualification — the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and LPC — with the SQE in September 2020.
In anticipation of this, Freshfields has confirmed its new solicitor apprenticeship programme will see the LPC being replaced by some sort of super-exam preparation. It’s still not clear how many aspiring solicitors the firm intends to put through the programme or when it’s due to be launched.
Apprenticeships aside, Freshfields is also looking to ramp up recruitment within Manchester. Reports suggest it is looking to take on around 15 junior solicitors through a combination of external hires and office transfers.
Freshfields, which currently offers around 80 London training contracts annually, launched its Manchester low-cost legal centre back in 2015. A year later, the firm teamed up with The University of Law to offer a two-year apprenticeship programme that sees school leavers go on to qualify as paralegals.
Other outfits to offer solicitor apprenticeships include Withers, Mayer Brown, Burges Salmon, Addleshaw Goddard, Eversheds Sutherland and Dentons. Meanwhile Clyde & Co, Hogan Lovells and DWF operate a similar programme, however students are only able to qualify as paralegals.