Law firm launches solicitor apprenticeships
In a new partnership with the University of Law, Liverpool law firm Hill Dickinson will is to launch a graduate solicitor apprenticeship programme. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool law firm Hill Dickinson is partnering with the University of Law (ULaw) to produce a new generation of junior lawyers.
Based in St Paul’s Square in the city centre, Hill Dickinson employs more than 850 people including 185 partners and legal directors. It also has offices in Manchester, London, Leeds, Piraeus near Athens, Singapore, Monaco and Hong Kong.
At the start of National Apprenticeship Week, it says it wants to end its more traditional trainee model in favour of a tailored, block-release graduate solicitor apprenticeship programme. It is part of a wider drive by the firm to diversify its workforce in a sector that is still dominated by people from white, middle class backgrounds.
From March 2022, rather than the more traditional trainee intake, Hill Dickinson’s future joiners will join a graduate solicitor apprenticeship programme to study for the SQE at ULaw. They will then start work at the firm as solicitor apprentices.
Carolyn Morgan, director of HR at Hill Dickinson, said: “We are keen to build on our excellent partnership with ULaw to develop a programme that supports our future solicitors to develop to their full potential.
“We also recognise the need to rethink how we attract the next generation of Hill Dickinson lawyers so that our people fully represent the diversity of the communities we serve. For us, that has meant starting with a fresh approach to training and we believe this partnership can deliver that.”
Hill Dickinson’s apprentices will study at ULaw on a block-release programme combining blended learning with weekly face-to-face tutor support. Before starting in the office, the apprentices will study towards and sit SQE 1 in addition to participating in a tailored, sector-focused ‘Hill Dickinson Plus’ programme.
Its new intake of graduate solicitor apprentices will join the firm in December 2022 and will be supported with regular workplace visits by a qualified solicitor skills coach as they prepare to sit SQE 2 during their qualifying work experience.
During the programme, ULaw will provide subject-specialist support to the apprentices with supervised tuition, guidance and feedback from the university’s team of qualified solicitor tutors.
One-to-one guidance and support will also be given by skills coaches with regular visits by the coaches to the workplace. Ceri Evans, national programme director apprenticeships at ULaw, added: “We have developed a tailored programme for Hill Dickinson to match the firm’s sector focus.
“Studied through the vehicle of a simulated law firm, to reflect life in a large commercial firm, the new cohort of Hill Dickinson’s graduate solicitor apprentices will develop their core technical and sector-focused knowledge during the programme alongside the development of key professional skills and behaviours.”