North East Solicitor Apprenticeships (NESA)

A group of law firms in the North East of England has led the way in developing a collaborative approach to employing solicitor apprentices. Bond Dickinson, McDaniel & Co. Solicitors, Muckle LLP, QualitySolicitors Smith Roddam and Sintons Law have created the North East Solicitor Apprenticeships initiative. Ten apprentices started work at their firms in September 2017.

The firms started liaising in November 2016 to promote the apprenticeship vacancies in their firms to local schools, with a view to offering a number of positions from September 2017. The have worked together on the recruitment and assessment process for candidates. Over 150 school pupils visited an open day held at the premises of Muckle & Co in January 2017 for candidates interested in applying, where all the firms were on hand to talk about life in the law and at their firms. An event was also held for local school teachers and the law firms, in conjunction with CILEx Law School and the charity Career Ready.

The initiative has been shortlisted in the Groups Making a Difference category in the North East Equality Awards 2017. It has also been shortlisted in the ‘Outstanding Practice’ category, which is made up of applications from across the categories that the judges have identified as outstanding.

Delivery of the apprenticeship training is by CILEx Law School and City Law School. City Law School will provide law teachers to support apprentices through the six-year programme, and the apprentices are using CILEx Law School’s on-line learning resources.

Jason Wainwright, Managing Partner of Muckle LLP, said: “We are delighted to be part of this joint venture, leading the way in the North East to offer a different route into the legal profession for a diverse and talented group of people. It’s refreshing to work collaboratively with other law firms to ensure the North East is at the forefront of developing regional talent. We believe this provides the opportunity, for those that can’t afford, or don’t want to take, the University route to develop a career in law, whilst earning and working in a North East firm.”

David Harris, Senior Partner at QualitySolicitors Smith Roddam, said: “This is a great opportunity for school leavers to become part of a cohort of solicitor apprenticeship recruits working in firms across the North East.”

Jenny Pelling, Director of Business and Apprenticeships at CILEx Law School, said: “This innovative approach makes sense for the employers and for the solicitor apprentices by establishing a strong network in the North East.”

Angela Jackman, Senior Lecturer at the City Law School, said: “The scheme will enable local people to become lawyers whilst working, earning and studying at the same time. It will also assist social mobility as tuition fees will be paid by employers and the government.”