Commercial law firm Hill Dickinson is to scrap training contracts for would-be solicitors and and replace them with a graduate solicitor apprenticeship programme.
From next month, new joiners will join the programme to study for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) before starting work at the firm as solicitor apprentices.
The graduate solicitor apprentices will study at the University of Law (ULaw) on a block-release programme combining learning with weekly face-to-face tutor support.
Before starting in the office, the apprentices will study towards and sit the SQE 1 in addition to participating in a tailored ‘Hill Dickinson Plus’ programme to get them ready for their particular practice groups.
The new intake of apprentices will then join the firm in December and be supported by regular workplace visits by a ULaw skills coach as they prepare to sit SQE 2 during their qualifying work experience.
Carolyn Morgan, director of HR at Hill Dickinson, said: “We recognise the need to rethink how we attract the next generation of Hill Dickinson lawyers so that our people fully represent the diversity of the communities we serve.
“For us, that has meant starting with a fresh approach to training and we believe this partnership can deliver that.”
Ceri Evans, ULaw’s national programme director for apprenticeships, added: “We have developed a tailored programme for Hill Dickinson to match the firm’s sector focus.
“Studied through the vehicle of a simulated law firm to reflect life in a large commercial firm, the new cohort of Hill Dickinson’s graduate solicitor apprentices will develop their core technical and sector-focused knowledge during the programme alongside the development of key professional skills and behaviours.”
Meanwhile, another law firm well known for its work with insurers, Manchester-based Horwich Farrelly, is adding a new apprenticeship schemes to the seven it already runs.
The firm has been running apprenticeships for 10 years and currently has 28 apprentices on seven different schemes: Level 3 paralegal, Level 7 solicitor, Level 7 graduate solicitor, Level 7 ACCA (accounts), Level 4 marketing executive, Level 4 commercial procurement & supply and Level 5 coaching.
The new scheme will be a Level 3 software development technician apprenticeship.
Oliver Bate, Horwich Farrelly’s people director, said: “Our sector has a history of being selective and certain academic requirements mean the journey to a career in law can be difficult.
“By offering a wide range of schemes, we’re able to attract and retain the best talent and build a workforce on equal opportunities.”