Leading ABS set to open up entry to the law through 'Learning Academy'


Co-op: 200 places on new training scheme

Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) will launch a ‘Learning Academy’ later this year that will offer all staff training for a range of skills and qualifications, including becoming solicitors and chartered legal executives.

CLS – one of the first alternative business structures (ABSs) – announced last year that it plans to add 3,000 staff by 2017 and its Learning Academy will go live in September in association with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The move will give heart to those who have predicted that ABSs will open up new paths into the legal profession.

It is expected that around 200 employees will join the academy initially, and the number of places will be expanded as the scheme develops to support the growth of the business.

CLS said the learning “will be linked to the needs of an ABS environment and to The Co-operative’s values”, and will have “a positive, socially inclusive impact by broadening routes in to legal careers”.

The Learning Academy will encompass all learning and development activities and will be open to CLS staff across the UK, with many of the new resources available online. Training to become a barrister will not be available initially but CLS said it will review the need for this as its business model develops – it currently does not have an in-house barrister resource.

Paralegals will be able to obtain apprentice and higher-level apprentice qualifications and would then be able to progress towards either the solicitor or chartered legal executive qualification, subject to meeting the education criteria.

Gill Higgins, head of HR at CLS, said: “Our new partnership with MMU will allow us to provide a unique learning and development programme for our employees, whilst also supporting the business in developing a talent pipeline. This will ensure that each and every career path is valued and that development and qualification ambitions can be met.

“We believe that this partnership will help us to ensure that we have the right skills, knowledge and experience within our business to achieve our goal of making the law as accessible and unintimidating as possible.”

Miceál Barden, head of Manchester Law School at MMU, said: “This represents a great opportunity for Manchester Law School to engage with the changing world of legal services and ensure the legal education we provide reflects the profound changes happening in the legal world today.

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