Alternative legal training: a game changer?

MANCHESTER Law School is pioneering a new route into the legal profession, which is attracting interest from law firms and college-leavers alike.

The School – part of Manchester Metropolitan University – is teaming up with CILEx Law School to provide new Legal Services Apprenticeships to Pannone, Weightmans, Hill Dickinson and other regional and national firms.

A first in the UK – the scheme takes advantage of new Employer Ownership of Skills funding directed through Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and will give more than 100 school leavers the opportunity to enter legal practice through an apprenticeship route.

The initiative is expected to be followed closely in legal circles as a model of greater flexibility and workplace training – a key recommendation of the recent Legal Education and Training Review, and follows calls from the Solicitors Regulation Authority for more pathways to train for the legal profession.

Firms and in-house counsel will receive full funding to train college-leavers under the age of 19.

Revolutionary

Head of Manchester Law School Miceál Barden is delighted that the city-region is pioneering a new approach to professional training. He said:  “The idea is to take bright college-leavers with good A-levels and train them to the required standard to perform everyday legal services.

“This is quite revolutionary because within months of beginning their training, these young professionals will be fee-earning for their firms.”

Candidates will be recruited as apprentices by some of the North West of England’s top law firms and released part-time to attend study sessions delivered by Manchester Law School and CILEx Law School. The apprentices will achieve both technical and competence qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) within 18 months.

Jenny Pelling, Business Director of CILEx Law School, said: “This is a very exciting initiative and an indication of the increasing momentum behind legal apprenticeships. Firms may choose to progress their people further and fund study towards qualifications either as a Fellow of CILEx or as a solicitor.”

Competitive

Regional business leaders believe the scheme will not only make firms more flexible and competitive but also help retain young talent in the city-region.

Louise Timperley, General Manager for Skills and Employment at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chamber is leading the way in responding to the skills needs of Greater Manchester law firms, working alongside employers in the legal sector to establish this exciting new programme.

“This is a great opportunity for young people to start a career in law and earn a salary whilst they train.”

Pannone Managing Partner Emma Holt said: “We are delighted that Manchester Law School has been appointed as our training partner.

Paralegal route

“The reality of the modern legal world is that, whilst there will always be highly skilled solicitors and partners within legal practice, law firms are employing more paralegals and this is an opportunity for students who might not otherwise consider the law as an option.”

Students interested in the programme can find detail of the roles on the National Apprenticeship Website or by joining/following our Facebook page.

Notes:

Legal Services Apprenticeships Legal Services Apprenticeships are now open to energetic self-starters who are interested in a career in law. Applicants must have a minimum of five GCSEs at A* to C including English and Maths, together with three A-Levels at grade B and above. People interested in applying should contact colleen.mcguinness@gmchamber.co.uk.

Law firms interested in getting involved in the programme should contact Carol.Bartram@gmchamber.co.uk

Paralegals Paralegals account for over 40% of all fee earners within the legal sector. This figure is expected to increase dramatically, with highly qualified and well trained paralegals outnumbering solicitors, as firms start to delegate more complex work in a bid to reduce costs, but still maintain high levels of service and standards.With the introduction of ‘Alternative Business Structures’ law firms will need to remain agile by delivering legal services through innovation, collaboration and reorganisation of how people are developed and managed.

Employer Ownership of Skills (EOS) Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce successfully bid for £8.5million EOS funding from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which is to be shared between a number of different sectors, addressing the skills and training gaps identified by employers.

Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA Chief Executive Antony Townsend recently called for more pathways to train for the legal profession.  He said: “In the firms we regulate, a huge percentage of people we regulate are not solicitors. There should be a variety of robust pathways into the regulated legal professions and work in the law more generally. We are keen to see more routes like those offered by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. After the LETR, we will want to look at how students meet “outcomes” in a more flexible way that will work with the apprenticeship model.”

Contacts: –

Manchester Metropolitan University Press Office,
Gareth Hollyman
0161 247 3406
g.hollyman@mmu.ac.uk

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce,
Joanna Preihs
0161 237 4124
joanna.preihs@gmchamber.co.uk