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LCF Law - apprenticeship case study

Rationale behind the apprenticeship programme

In 2014, our residential property work was increasing in line with many law firms, but there was a shortage locally of trained staff able to handle residential conveyancing work.

Having researched the availability of apprenticeships and the support provided by the government to encourage employing school leavers on apprenticeship programmes, we saw apprenticeships as a means of recruiting school leavers who, together with a structured training plan, we could develop into our future workforce.

We currently have seven apprentices: one each in debt recovery, commercial disputes and the personal law team (wills and probate), and four in residential property.

Where we found useful information

With our knowledge and information manager, Kate McFarlane, we researched apprenticeship programmes locally and chose Damar as the training organisation with whom to partner. We agreed the education profile of candidates and roles within the organisation. With Damar we advertised the vacancies regionally, and they screened candidates first before we interviewed them.

Barriers encountered

The barriers we experienced were locating suitable candidates. Working with the local Chamber of Commerce and other training organisations, it became clear that schools focused on exam success and university places as a measure of their success, and were not suggesting apprenticeships as a career path to their students. We made contact with training organisations to recruit apprentices.

Key steps in the process

The legal department into which the apprentices are recruited have to acknowledge that these are young people coming straight out of school who may not have experienced an office environment; there are potential behaviour issues.

However, the apprentices are quick to learn and adapt, and each brings a raw enthusiasm which brings its own benefits and supports each of the teams.

We start all apprentices with a 12-month Business Administration Level 2 apprenticeship, before going on to Level 3 apprenticeship. During the course of the apprenticeship the external training organisation supports the apprentice with a nominated tutor who visits the office and tutors on site.

The apprentice is also supported by an internal mentor who ensures they undertake the appropriate level of work to meet the apprenticeship criteria. We review progress annually and discuss career paths for the apprentices. Two are planning to become legal executives and one is going on to become a solicitor.

Our first apprentice, who joined in 2014, left us in 2017 due to home relocation and she will be going on to pursue a career as either a solicitor or legal executive.

Use of levy

We claim against the levy for the cost of appropriate training for apprentices. Once all our levy is allocated, 90 per cent of the cost of further training provided to the apprentices is met by the government.

Main benefits of apprenticeships

Each apprentice progresses at their own pace but all are making a contribution towards the business within six months of joining the firm. I would have no hesitation in promoting the recruitment of apprentices for any law firm.

LCF apprentice: Caroline Rayner-Jones

Caroline Rayner-JonesCaroline was recruited in 2014 and is a Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Level 3 apprentice.

When I was in the sixth form I was told the only way to have a career in law was to study at university. I really didn't want the debt of university, and to be honest I was keen to get into working life.

I looked at the different ways to get into law and came across the apprenticeship scheme which offered hands-on learning and practical skills whilst also earning. It was a double win.

Starting the apprenticeship was a big culture shock: I went straight from completing my A-levels to working for a big law firm. However, I was eager to learn so I hit the ground running and just got on with it.

Affiliate status with CILEx

I have now been with LCF Law for three years and so far I have achieved affiliate status with CILEx. My next steps are to continue with the training progression scheme to qualify as a solicitor.

The staff here are such a lovely bunch of people and we get on really well. I've recently completed a sale transaction file in my own name, which is definitely an achievement and something that I am really proud of as it shows my hard work is actually paying off.

I have learned so much working alongside senior solicitor Liz Webster. She isn't just a colleague, she’s become a good friend and we work well together.

My external training provider, Damar, takes me through the modules and ensures my work is on target.

I'm very pleased I made the decision to go straight into working life and not to university. The majority of my friends are at university and will be graduating this year. They will then need to find a job, whereas I have learnt so much in the three years I have been here, in addition to being able to qualify and earn at the same time.

I really do recommend this route.