Bates Wells, Browne Jacobson and Freeths latest to offer flexible opportunities
More big legal players have committed to offering part-time training opportunities to aspiring lawyers with disabilities.
Law firm trio Bates Wells, Browne Jacobson and Freeths have become the latest backers of ‘Project Rise’, a cross-firm enterprise initiated by the Law Society’s Disabled Solicitors Network (DSN), that seeks to encourage outfits to offer more part-time training contracts and apprenticeships.
Law Society President Lubna Shuja said: “I am delighted to welcome Bates Wells, Browne Jacobson and Freeths to Project Rise. They have committed to offering all successful candidates the opportunity to train on a part-time basis to provide more accessible routes to qualification for people from diverse backgrounds.”
She continued: “Five firms are now part of the scheme and I encourage our members to join the initiative as a way of providing different ways of training to aspiring solicitors. Aspiring solicitors who can’t train full-time due to caring responsibilities or other reasons now have more opportunities to join our valuable profession.”
Eversheds Sutherland and Osborne Clarke were the first firms to sign onto the project last year, with both outfits committing to offering all successful candidates the opportunity to train on a part-time basis, starting from September 2024.
Eversheds is offering its summer vacation students who obtained a TC the opportunity to complete their training part-time, while OC currently employs a part-time trainee.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has clarified that if someone works 32 hours over less than five days a week, they can still qualify in two years, as it is classed as ‘full-time.’ The 2014 Education and Training Regulations defined ‘full time’ in relation to a period of recognised training as 32 hours, and ‘part-time’ as working fewer than 32 hours. Two years is the minimum needed to qualify.
Becky Egan, head of diversity and inclusion at Freeths, said:
“For us, it’s about nurturing and supporting our talent and we understand that this means offering alternative routes through to qualification. We’ve already successfully offered training contracts on a part-time basis and our legal assistant programme gives graduates the opportunity to work, gain experience and secure a place on our solicitor apprenticeship to complete their SQE1 & 2 and their QWE.”
She added: “We’re committed to making the legal profession more accessible, diverse and inclusive and therefore are proud to be part of Project Rise.”