This is the Farrer & Co profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Farrer & Co profile.
A quintessentially royal solicitor apprenticeship? Farrer & Co, a 300-year-old establishment famous for its links with the Royals, stands up to the challenge of breaking posh stereotypes while catering to a loyal clientele of charities and landed gentry. Although the firm primarily focuses on private client work, it also embraces a diverse commercial side, representing high net worth individuals, museums, publishing houses, and more. Based at its historical London office in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, insiders say a Farrer & Co apprenticeship offers a varied workload and strong departmental training.
One second-year apprentice at Farrers spoke to us about the environment and culture of the firm. “There are a lot of misconceptions of Farrers in the ‘outside world’,” she tells us. “Obviously, the firm is very well known for acting for the Queen and sometimes that can create a sense of prejudice against the people at Farrers.” However, she makes it clear that this is far from the truth. “Within the first week here, we got stopped in the hallway so many times by colleagues expressing their excitement and their genuine interest in the apprentices”.
Another gleeful apprentice tells us that, though she applied for plenty of apprenticeships, Farrers stood out from the pack. “Throughout the application and assessment process, everyone was so lovely,” she reveals. “Farrers immediately felt like a really good environment.”
As for picking the route to begin with, the choice was a no-brainer for another apprentice we spoke to. “I wasn’t confident or comfortable in the thought of going to uni,” she says. “I love the duality of learning and earning, and I don’t have to worry about any debt which was quite a big concern when I was considering my options, given my socio-economic background.” Recruits are enrolled into an LLB programme with The University of Law, before moving onto the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) later in the apprenticeship. The firm picks up the tab, of course. Free education aside, the insider tells us that it is the opportunity to have real legal experience – alongside their studies – that ultimately led them away from the university route.
And, according to our sources, a Farrers apprenticeship certainly does not disappoint on the experience front. From the first day, rookies land in the beating heart of the firm, spending their first two years rotating through the various business services departments. They can expect to spend time in diversity & inclusion, IT, human resources, marketing, business development or finance and risk, building an understanding how the firm operates as a business.
Rather than viewing this as hurdle before they can commence their legal training, our interviewees enthuse about spending the first two years in the “engine room”. One recruit tells us, “when people usually imagine a law firm, they imagine the legal work, not the work that goes on behind the scenes – it’s a massive benefit to be able to spend time in business services.” And, luckily for Farrers apprentices, the business services teams are usually fairly small, so newbies quickly become highly valued team members. “You are a main pillar of the team,” a recruit tells us. “You are actually making a difference within the firm – the work you’re doing in business services is not just beneficial for yourself, but beneficial for the whole firm.”
Post-business services, apprentices go on to spend two years rotating through various practice seats as a paralegal, before moving on the training contract portion in the final two years. On why this is an ideal structure, one rookie tells us that “the aim is to give apprentices in their paralegal seats a solid base knowledge before moving on to the final two trainee years of the apprenticeship. The firm are keen to develop us as people before we enter the legal teams.” With the apprenticeship scheme still fresh at the firm, it remains to be seen whether second-year apprentices can choose their paralegal seats. Nevertheless, we are assured that Farrers is looking to place apprentices in busy teams where they will get wide exposure to different tasks and client matters. The final two years of the apprenticeship, identical to the firm’s traditional training contract, comprise an impressive six seat rotations, one every four months, leaving plenty of opportunity for apprentices to make the most of experiencing a variety of practice areas at the firm.
Whilst some of the firm’s cohort come from within London, we’re told it’s not uncommon to relocate from elsewhere. “At the time”, one apprentice who moved to the capital from Leeds says, “I didn’t really feel like it was happening. One minute I was applying and the next minute I had moved.” Making the move certainly didn’t come without its tests. “Learning how to live alone and to move away from home has been a challenge”, she says. “For example, now I have to actually do my own washing and cleaning!” “There have been talks about flat sharing amongst the apprentices within the firm,” she informs me, which is very good news for hopeful apprentices considering the move. Choosing to live in studio flat within a reasonable commute can sometimes be a little lonely, she admits, “but there’s always someone coming or going”.
Another interviewee makes the commute from her family home in the Kent area, and admits that “door to door, it’s four hours of commuting a day”. “With train strikes”, she says, “it can actually be quite stressful trying to get into the office”. Luckily for this apprentice, the hybrid working culture at the firm seems to be a real saviour. “We only do three days in the office, so it doesn’t tend to impact my social life because I still have my weekends”, she assures us.
In other good news, with a subsidised café and restaurant in their office building, apprentices need not worry about paying £10 for an unappealing sandwich in London. “We can have a hot lunch for about £3.50, which is cheaper than a meal deal”. And, “there’s always events on in the office which have free food!”.
Other perks for apprentices include access to a benefit portal which includes subsidised gym membership, a taste card and more. Clearly there are plenty of perks that hopeful apprentices at Farrers can look forward to, all within a friendly, supportive, and collegiate environment.
This is Farrer & Co’s Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Farrer & Co’s full Legal Cheek profile here.