A leading UK law firm has called upon training providers to really get to know the legal sector and demonstrate they can provide sustainable collaborations when offering apprenticeships under the new levy and funding reforms which are being introduced from 6 April.
Susie Halliday, Executive Director of Learning and Development at top 100 law firm Foot Anstey, is encouraging colleges and private sector training providers to thoroughly understand the legal sector when entering into apprenticeship partnerships with law firms.
She says: “The UK's legal sector is broad, supporting businesses and people across the country and region in every sector. Understanding the different work and business cultures is critical to the successful delivery of apprenticeship programmes. There’s also a need for training providers to show they are capable of delivering long term partnerships as some apprenticeships can be as long as six years.”
Halliday adds: “Apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to grow and have long-term careers with our business. Apprenticeships widen our talent pool to ensure that we recruit the best people for our business and therefore offer the best service to our clients. The legal profession is adapting to change and there isn't a 'one size fits all' any more. Moving into the future, our employees with their background, skills and talent need to reflect our diverse and broad client base to support with their projects, businesses and legal requirements.”
Foot Anstey has been working closely with Weston College since 2014 to demonstrate how the sector can take advantage of apprenticeships. The reciprocal partnership aims to supply, support and develop an alternative route for the next legal generation. The College has invested £18m in a new Law & Professional Services Academy, which opens later this year, and will be key to the delivery of apprenticeships for paralegals, chartered legal executives and solicitors.
Tracie Leahy, Apprenticeship Sales and Recruitment Manager at Weston College, added: “It has been well reported that higher apprenticeships, which enable study of a further/higher education qualification alongside the opportunity to work, represents significant opportunities for employers and students alike in the legal sector.
“Lawyers of the future won’t be just recruited from the top Universities that have for years fed the sector. Instead apprenticeships will give people an opportunity to work four days a week alongside a day’s study. For legal firms, they can get to shape and develop their recruits much earlier.”
Leahy offers the following advice to law firms when recruiting apprentices:
- Think about the area of the business you want the apprentices to work in – where they and you will get most value and that aligns with the pathways on offer.
- Ensure you work closely with the training provider in the recruitment of the apprentices – at the end of the day they will be your employees and will be with you for a large majority of each week. Give guidance as to where you want them to focus in line with your business goals.
- Integrate apprentices into the office environment – as seasoned professionals it’s easy to forget that apprentices may have little experience of the workplace.
- Provide them with an extended induction – cover off basics such as time keeping, dress code and mobile phone policy.
- Identify appropriate supervisors within the firm who will nurture the apprentices and who can role model how they can develop into lawyers of the future.