Legal Business Blogs

Taking the initiative: Burges Salmon pushes ahead on legal apprenticeships through government scheme

Burges Salmon has become one of the first law firms to hire legal apprentices under the Government’s new Trailblazers Apprenticeship in Law initiative, taking on five apprentices who start today (26 September).

The two-year programme includes a combination of through-the-job and textbook learning, with the apprentices spending one day a week studying at the BPP law school and four days a week working at Burges Salmon. The only other law firm to publicly announce an apprenticeship scheme under the Trailblazer Initiative is Eversheds, which took on eight apprentices from 19 September, also in conjunction with BPP University Law School.

By the end of the programme the apprentices will achieve a Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard and a Certificate in Legal Practice (equivalent to the first year of university). Completing the Certificate in Legal Practice will enable participants to complete the Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship in a shorter period of time.

Commenting on the hires, Burges Salmon’s chief people officer Robert Halton said: ‘We fully support the principles behind the Trailblazers initiative and recognise the value that apprentices can bring to any business. We want to develop skills for the future of our business and the legal sector. Other professional services have been offering high-quality apprenticeships for years with great success and we see this as an exciting development for the legal sector.’

Last December, ITV became the first company to offer a solicitor apprenticeship under the Trailblazer scheme. The team has taken on one apprentice, who started this month and will qualify as a solicitor with the company in August 2022.

Overall, there has been a disappointing uptake of the Trailblazer initiative, particularly among the Magic Circle firms. Earlier this year, both Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance ruled out apprentices out completely, while Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters have been non-committal.

The only firm in the peer group to announce a willingness to offer apprenticeships is Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which has partnered with the University of Law to launch a paralegal apprenticeship scheme in its Legal Services Centre in Manchester, providing two students a place on the two-year scheme starting next month.