Queen’s law firm embraces solicitor apprenticeships

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Farrer & Co to welcome first cohort this autumn

Farrer & Co, London; Credit: Google Images

The law firm which services the Queen of the United Kingdom has embraced the solicitor apprenticeship route to qualification.

Making the announcement on Monday to coincide with the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Farrer & Co said it is looking for two solicitor apprentices to start with the firm in September 2022, with applications closing this Sunday (13 February).

The London law firm, which is located in Lincoln’s Inn, is partnering with The University of Law (ULaw) for the provision of training under the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) regime.

The six-year apprenticeship will be split into two years first spent in the firm’s business services teams getting to grips with the firm’s operations and sector priorities, followed by another two years working and learning in legal teams completing a “paralegal-style role”. In the final two years of the scheme, they will complete their Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) in a trainee solicitor position, undertaking the firms’ six-seat rotation before qualifying.

The apprentices will start on a salary of £20,000, to be reviewed annually, and have their tuition fees covered by the firm.

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Farrer & Co has offered business services apprenticeships since 2017, with apprentices currently in place within its HR, finance, marketing and IT teams. This is the first year that the firm will be adding to the ongoing scheme with a new solicitor qualification route.

Katherine Wilde, director of knowledge, learning and development at Farrer & Co, said: “We are thrilled to expand our apprenticeship scheme by offering both solicitor and non-solicitor roles this year. Our aim is to develop well-rounded legal professionals who have a deep understanding of both our clients’ businesses and of the business of law.”

Wilde said: “We have devised a scheme that mirrors the close collaboration between our business services team and our fee-earners, and that we believe will result in commercially astute solicitors who are able to deliver the highest quality service to our clients.”

Professor Peter Crisp, ULaw’s pro vice chancellor external, added: “We are delighted to be working with Farrer & Co, a firm that is synonymous with the highest level of care and quality of legal advice and service. We look forward to supporting its trainees and solicitor apprentices as they develop commercial, personal and technical skills.”

Several law firms have now embraced the solicitor apprenticeship, including most recently the magic circle law firm Allen & Overy as well as Ashfords, DLA Piper, Kennedys, Norton Rose Fulbright and Stephenson Harwood, to name a few.

Farrer & Co was founded in 1701 and has acted for British royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, as well as many leading public figures. The firm operates in three major practice areas; businesses, individuals & families, and charities & institutions.

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Forever Associate

£20k? So less than the London Living Wage (which should be around £21,500).

I know statutory pay for “apprentices” and under 25s allow much lower wages, but it’s not the best look for a London law firm associated with aristocratic clients and partners making an overage of £600k a year. Farrer & Serfdom more like it.



The apprenticeship is aimed at 18 year olds. It also covers course fees for the duration (an indirect benefit). On the basis that there’s going to be a salary uplift most likely every year till qualification, I do not think it’s an unreasonable starting salary.

There has got to also be some scope to factor in that a 18 year old working in a law firm for the first year is going to be “a little bit shit”.

You cannot have salary inflation at all rungs of the ladder, and there should be a culture of proving yourself to be competent before you are appropriately remunerated. I see a lot of inept people enjoying vastly over compensated salaries without merit in all areas of a law firm, which is disgraceful.


Forever Associate

You can have salary inflation at all rungs of the ladder when it is a market correction following 30 years of wage stagnation and tiring of the traditional exploitive pyramid structure of private practice law firms.

The stark reality is a base level of comfort for living within London is a salary of about £30k. This also assumes you have roommates and/or live at home. It is impossible to live on your own at this level of salary, which I also fully accept is not the norm for 18 year olds anyways. This is a reasonable figure. However, I appreciate this country has accepted a hilariously low standard of living and lack of social mobility as acceptable when compared to other developed western nations.

There’s also the fallacy of your age statement. My firm hired someone to train up as a legal cashier right out of a-levels, and they were awesome from day one – good work ethic, great attention to detail and very process driven. I was a career changer with several years of industry experience before becoming a trainee, and I was beyond shit in my first year. Thankfully I improved but my value was questionable for the first 12 months. There are enough exceptions to say your generalisation is not warranted.



Okay. You “can”, but you should not (my own poor phrasing) have salary inflation. Everyone deserves to be paid properly, but increasing it for increasing’s sake I do not agree with. I would not start a solicitors apprentice on 30k. They are a bona fide apprentice, and already above-market. It’s also not for employers to address whether or not an 18 year old can live on their own while working. It’s the government’s job to appropriately legislate and to bring in effective policies to combat cost of living. In any event, £20k is enough to live comfortably; you are not blowing £200 on drinks or eating at swanky restaurants but you can enjoy life’s comforts. I’ve earned that amount in the last 5 years living in London and it’s manageable.

Regarding age, exceptions do not prove the rule. It’s a legitimate business need to build in contingency for individuals just entering into a profession such as ours. It requires on average time and effort to meet a standard of working for a lot of people. Some people are going to hit the ground running on day 1, and some will come into their own later on. Unless you take a black box approach, a contingency for junior inadequacy needs to be factored into salary.

It is better to reward the exceptions and then identify those who need increased support for training so that everyone’s on an even footing. As I’ve said, I support a culture of achievement resulting in compensation, not mediocrity getting an uplift.



The Crown Estate – which generates the overwhelming majority of commercial work and is the client firms actually care about – doesn’t instruct Farrer & Co any more. They moved most of their work to Hogan Lovells.

Calling Farrers ‘the Queen’s solicitors’ is like calling the high street solicitor for a striker at Manchester City ‘Man City’s solicitor’, when Man City uses large commercial firms for all of its advice.

“The Crown Estate regularly uses firms including Hogan Lovells, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, CMS, Womble Bond Dickinson, Burges Salmon, Forsters and Cripps Pemberton Greenish.”


No 66

The Crown Estate is not the same as the Queen though.

The Crown Estate is an independent company which owns and manages assets, the profits from which provide the monarch with an income.

Farrers on the other hand advises the Queen on matters of tax, wealth, inheritance and family law etc. A partner (Julian Smith I believe) is the personal solicitor to the Queen.

So the two are quite different things.


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