National law firm Bond Dickinson has won the Newcomer Large Employer of the Year award at the National Apprenticeship Awards.

Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service, the awards showcase the very best apprenticeship employers and apprentices in the UK and recognise excellence in businesses growing their own talent through apprenticeships schemes.

Bond Dickinson was amongst the first law firms to make legal apprenticeships available, with the first apprentices joining the business in 2014. The firm currently has eleven apprentices, seven working as legal apprentices and another four employed in the firm’s support services teams. Following the success of the scheme, which Bond Dickinson runs in partnership with CILEx Law School, the firm is now rolling out further apprenticeships across other business functions and locations.

The scheme has already won Employer of the Year Award at the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives awards and Best Large Newcomer of the Year 2016 at the South West Regional Apprenticeship Awards last October.

Sam Lee, Head of Recruitment at Bond Dickinson, said: “We took on apprentices because it was the right thing to do; for social mobility, improved staff retention and for the future of our business. There’s a real buzz in the office around the scheme as people increasingly see the benefits they can bring. Recruiting apprentices as paralegals allows us to attract smart, enthusiastic and engaged people into law – people that never previously would have thought a career in law was for them, or even possible.

“Apprenticeships also provide great development opportunities for our existing staff, giving more junior staff in the business the chance to supervise and mentor people – opportunities that they previously may not have had.

“Being recognised by the National Apprenticeship Service is tremendous news for the firm. It is a tribute to the value apprentices bring to our business and to the work that has been put in by the whole firm to make our programme a real success story.”

Kevin Robertson, Partner and Head of Bond Dickinson’s Newcastle office said: “This is fantastic news for Bond Dickinson and we are really proud of this achievement.”

Sue Husband, Director, National Apprenticeship Service was host on the night. She concluded: “The National Apprenticeship Awards have highlighted once again the magnificent range of apprenticeships on offer – with leading employers in exciting industries – and the skills that apprentices gain when taking on these roles.

“Every year this event gets bigger and better, bringing to the forefront of our minds the importance of apprenticeships to local, regional and national economies. Apprenticeships are for everyone and I personally thank each and every employer and apprentice recognised at Friday’sevent for their commitment to apprenticeships.”

The ceremony also saw Bond Dickinson LLP named in the prestigious Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer list. The list, which is compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service, sponsored by Centrica, recognises excellence in businesses that employ apprentices.

Bond Dickinson provides legal services across a wide range of sectors including energy, manufacturing, financial services, insurance, retail, insurance, transport and private wealth from seven offices spread across the UK and employs more than 1,200 people around the country.