A TOP regional law firm is offering young people the chance to train as a solicitor as the jobs market continues to be blighted by the pandemic.

BHP Law, in partnership with Northumbria University, has taken on Ellie Phillips, 19 and Jack Collins, 18, on a six-year apprenticeship.

The initiative will not only see the North East teenagers gain a law degree but also leave university work-ready thanks to intensive on the job training across the practice’s full range of services.

BHP Law, with offices in Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Stockton and Tynemouth, specialises in family law, court of protection, wills, trusts and probate, residential conveyancing, dispute resolution, corporate and commercial, personal injury, commercial and agricultural property and employment law.

Managing partner John Pratt said: “It is a great scheme. For the apprentice it is an opportunity to complete a six-year course in full employment and at the end, if successful, they will have a law degree and be a qualified solicitor with no debt.

“For the employer, we get the chance to recruit bright students who will contribute from day one to our business and who we can fully integrate into our ethos and hopefully then retain as their legal career develops.”

For keen Darlington athlete Ellie the scheme is an invaluable leg up into a profession she has dreamed of working in since she volunteered with Citizens Advice while at Carmel College, where she studied her A Levels.

“I would walk into town from college at lunchtimes, or if I had a free period, to help people with their issues,” recalled Ellie, a member of Darlington Harriers, who competes in 800m, 5k and cross country races and has represented the North East in the London Mini Marathon.

“That’s what secured the idea of reading law for me and the apprenticeship scheme provides the opportunity to get the best of both worlds. We are so grateful to BHP law because there is a great deal of uncertainty at the moment and we know we have six years here to become fully qualified ending with a great career in law.”

Jack, of Redcar, who studied A levels at Prior Pursglove College, in Guisborough, and is a keen centre midfielder for Great Ayton men’s team, added: “We feel so lucky and grateful to BHP Law as many firms pulled out of the apprenticeship scheme because of COVID.

“There aren’t too many opportunities in Redcar at the moment so I jumped at this chance to work four days in a solicitor’s office and one day at university.

“I was won over to the idea of law at college when I took part in a mock trial at Leeds Crown Court playing a man accused of being a drug dealer – and convincing the jury I was not guilty.”

Both apprentices will get the opportunity to rotate their training gaining invaluable work experience in all the firm’s departments before deciding to specialise in a particular legal field.