Magic circle firms say ‘no’ to legal apprenticeships

Two top legal firms have ruled out offering legal apprenticeships, after a number of others have recently signed up to the Trailblazer scheme.

Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May have declared themselves out of the initiative, which provides an alternative to the traditional route into the profession by offering apprentices qualifications as solicitors, paralegals and chartered legal executives.

Apprenticeships ‘not right’

A Clifford Chance spokesperson told The Law Society Gazette that apprenticeships were “not the right model” for the firm, which will instead concentrate on offering work experience to students from less privileged backgrounds.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer recently said it would offer a paralegal apprenticeship at its Manchester office, the first of the top five UK law firms – known as the magic circle – to do so.

The Trailblazer scheme, announced last year by the Prime Minister, has attracted criticism from the City of London Law Society, which argued that standards might not be met and maintained.


Following the crowd

The final two magic circle law firms – Linklaters and Allen & Overy – have not yet said whether or not they will be signing up to the Trailblazer programme, but told The Law Society Gazette that they will continue to monitor how things progress.

In December, ITV announced it would deliver the first in-house solicitor apprenticeship as part of the scheme, in partnership with CILEx Law School and City University London’s City Law School.

Just last week, national law firm Ashfords LLP said it would hire 10 legal apprentices in its Exeter office and one in its Tiverton office. Seven will follow the Intermediate Apprenticeship in Legal Administration and three will follow the new Trailblazer Paralegal Apprenticeship.