Big Four giant Deloitte has teamed up with the University of Law (ULaw) to launch a work-based training contract for graduates to harness the incoming regime to replace traditional solicitor training routes.
Hailed as a pioneering move, the three-year course will be targeted at graduates, phasing out the need for the Legal Practice Course (LPC), making use of the incoming Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) regime, touted as a more flexible means of producing solicitors.
Successful applicants will commence their training from September 2020 before qualifying as solicitors in 2023. The new programme comes after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) unveiled its plans for the SQE last year. Deloitte is aiming to take on ten trainees in its first year.
Despite controversy among supporters of traditional solicitor training routes, the SQE has been touted as a radical shift to support diverse paths to qualification and encourage work-based training. The SQE model has also been seized on as potentially aiding New Law service providers in their need to develop new models for training legal professionals.
‘This was one of the first things I looked at when I arrived,’ Michael Castle (pictured), managing partner of Deloitte Legal, told Legal Business. ‘Recruiting the best people is a priority and the new SQE was an opportunity to do that.’
The move makes Deloitte an early adopter of the new model, while many traditional law firms are expected to largely replicate their current processes for training within the incoming regime.
SQE training contracts mean students can take up their place straight from university to gain legal experience, before ultimately sitting their SQE examinations to demonstrate professional competence. There is also an opportunity for students to take up longer apprenticeship placements straight from school, further widening access to the profession. Under the current regime, trainees do not take up their place until after they have completed three years of study, including the one-year LPC.
Training contracts at Deloitte will enable entrants to ‘earn as they learn’ according to Castle. ULaw, meanwhile, will help deliver the training that was previously wrapped into the LPC.
With all Big Four accountancy firms currently investing in the legal market, the group is also certain to want to leverage their reputation for being more diverse recruiters than the legal profession. Castle added: ‘It’s already how we train our accountants so we’re positioned well. It reflects the way we train other graduates within the business and further demonstrates the way the legal services market is changing.’
Over the summer Deloitte strengthened its legal bench by hiring Andrew Lilley, the former managing partner of Travers Smith, to spearhead its employment practice.