From education to employment

Pioneering Apprenticeship Academy launched for school leavers to qualify as solicitors

Weightmans (@Weightmans) welcomes first apprentice solicitors

Weightmans (@Weightmans) welcomes first apprentice solicitors  


National law firm Weightmans has welcomed its first cohort of apprentice solicitors to its pioneering Apprenticeship Academy, which allows school leavers to qualify as a solicitor and gain a law degree while working, as applications open for its 2022 and 2023 schemes.  


The 13 new starters will gain experience working across each of the firm’s legal departments, and will also benefit from placement opportunities in key service areas such as finance, HR and marketing, and Weightmans’ innovation department.  


Overall, the programme will last for six years, and the apprentices will be fully qualified by 2027, obtaining an LLB in Law and Legal Practice, as well as completing their Solicitor Qualifying Exams (SQE). Developed in partnership with global education leader BPP University Law School, the Academy offers school leavers the opportunity to combine legal expertise with developing commercial, digital and innovation skills.   


Weightmans became the first law firm in the country to offer level four higher legal apprenticeships when they became available in 2013, and graduates and school leavers can now pursue one of three different pathways towards becoming a solicitor. As well as the full solicitor degree apprenticeship, new graduates who are yet to complete their LPC can progress straight to Weightmans’ graduate solicitor apprenticeship, or can continue along the traditional LPC and training contract route.  


The firm already has a strong track record of supporting apprentices – England’s first higher legal apprentice, Jordan Coulton, completed his training with the firm and was recognised as the Higher Apprentice of the Year at the 2018 National Apprenticeship Awards.  


Denise Wright, Graduate Development Adviser at Weightmans, said: “The future of our profession requires lawyers that can bring a combination of commercial acumen, outstanding legal knowledge and innovative thinking to the table. For us, developing alternative pathways to qualification has always been about giving budding solicitors the choice to learn in the way that suits them best, so they qualify with the skills they need to provide the highest quality client experience, embrace emerging legal technologies, and deliver the best results.  


“We’re excited to see how our first cohort progress, and look forward to supporting their journey to becoming solicitors over the next six years.”  


Charity Lockie, an apprentice at Weightmans in Liverpool, commented: “I have always wanted to kickstart my career early, but simultaneously had my heart set on obtaining a university degree. So, when I saw the Weightmans’ scheme offering both, and researched the company’s work and values, I knew instantly that there was no alternative for me. 


“Each day comes with new opportunities to network, learn from successful solicitors and undertake extensive training. Despite being an apprentice with no legal background, the team have welcomed me with patience and open arms and are showing me the ropes at a steady yet challenging pace.”    


Helen Taylor, HR Director at Weightmans, added: “We know that people sit at the heart of the firm’s future success. Our Apprenticeship Academy is a leading example of Weightmans’ commitment to investing in the next generation of legal talent, and to helping them develop the skills they need to thrive in the law firm of the future.  


Applications for the September 2022 cohort are open from now until 9th December.


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