A consortium of North East law firms has come together to develop a collaborative approach to recruit solicitor apprentices.

Muckle LLP, Sintons Law, McDaniels & Co and QualitySolicitors Smith Roddam have joined forces with CILEx Law School and City, University of London, Law School to deliver a six-year apprenticeship programme. There are ongoing discussions with other law firms to join the consortium.

The apprenticeships – which will lead to an LLB in Legal Practice from City, University of London and ultimately to qualification as a solicitor – offer school leavers an alternative route into the legal profession without the need to go to university full time.

The trailblazing programme breaks down barriers for young people who are keen to start a legal career but may not be able to afford (or want to go down) the traditional route of university and would prefer to earn whilst they study.  It has the added bonus of offering invaluable practical experience alongside high quality education and training whilst being paid.

It comes after the government’s commitment to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in the UK, which will see the introduction of an apprenticeship levy from April 2017. It requires employers, who pay out over £3m per year in salaries, to pay a levy to the government of 0.5% of the pay bill. This can then be used to fund apprenticeship training such as these solicitor apprentice opportunities.

The North East will be the first region to have a law firm consortium working collaboratively to offer these opportunities.

Apprentices will work with one law firm for the six years starting in September 2017. The firms are jointly liaising with schools throughout the region to promote the opportunities and they will also work together on the recruitment and assessment process for candidates.

The chosen apprentices will use CILEx Law School’s online learning resources and City, University of London Law School will provide law teachers to provide face-to-face learning and to support the apprentices throughout the training programme.

There will be an informal open day at Muckle’s offices in the centre of Newcastle, Time Central, on Saturday 14 January for candidates interested in applying. All the North East firms offering apprenticeship places will be on hand to talk about life in the law and at their firms.

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, University of London 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.”

The open day at Muckle on 14 January will take place between 11am and 2pm and is open to young people and their parents. Candidates are required to have a minimum of three Bs at A Level (or equivalent) and with Maths and English GCSEs grades A* to C. For more information or to register please visit www.cilexlawschool.ac.uk/northeast.