Trailblazer legal apprenticeships – one year on

Trailblazer legal apprenticeships – one year on

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The Trailblazer legal apprenticeship standards were launched by what was the Department of Business, Innovations and Skills in September 2015. Whilst apprenticeships have provided a vehicle for developing paralegal and non-fee earning staff for a number of years, the new scheme goes a step further in that it is now possible to qualify as a solicitor, paralegal or chartered legal executive by completing one.

As such it is likely to appeal to school leavers who find the prospect of earning whilst they learn more attractive than committing themselves to the heavy debts that come with university and the legal practice course with no guarantee of employment at the end of their studies.

With firms taking on the first cohort of Trailblazer apprentices this autumn, we recently ran a free webinar looking at how the scheme is working in practice. This was presented by the SRA’s Director of Education and Training Julie Brannan, together with Gun Judge (Head of Resourcing at Addleshaw Goddard LLP) and Marissa Sanders (Graduate Manager at Irwin Mitchell LLP). It looked at different aspects of the system from the firm's point of view, with a practical focus on the benefits firms can hope to reap through being involved in the scheme.

Benefits to firms taking on apprentices

The Trailblazer scheme was designed very much with employers in mind, with the legal apprenticeship standards being developed with input from a number of leading law firms including Addleshaw Goddard, Kennedys Law and Thomas Eggar in order to make them more relevant to the workplace. So what are the main benefits to firms who are thinking of taking on apprentices?

One key consideration is that government funding is available to firms to incentivise them to take on apprentices. From 6 April 2017, an apprenticeships levy of 0.5% of the wage bill will be applied to employers in all industry sectors with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million. Firms will be able to access these funds from 1 May 2017, with the maximum level of funding available being dependent on the level of the apprenticeship being offered. So for the level 3 apprentice for paralegals, the maximum is £9,000, rising to £21,000 for the level 7 apprenticeship for solicitors.

One significant advantage from the firm’s perspective is that apprentices tend to be more loyal to their employer and will typically stay longer. Addleshaws have had apprentices working at the firm since 2013 and, according to Gun Judge, the firm’s experience to date has been that

our retention levels have been higher” and that “the loyalty is definitely there”.

Furthermore, the firm (which has now hired 28 apprentices for a variety of roles) has had a very positive experience of the abilities that the apprentices brought to their roles. According to Judge

our apprentices really did astonish us in terms of their capability quite quickly”

meaning that Addleshaws had to make sure that

with the following cohorts we really spent time thinking they can achieve more than we earlier thought they could do” and that they needed “to devise more complex work to give them”.

To hear more about how your firm may benefit from taking on apprentices and the practical steps that need to be taken to ensure that both firms and apprentices get the most out of the experience, view the full webinar at:

New learning and development webinar series

For 2017, LexisNexis is developing a new series of four more webinars designed to support learning and development professionals working in the legal sector. They will look at key issues in legal learning and how to implement best practice within your firm. The first webinar in the series – looking at assessing and measuring the value in L&D ventures – will be broadcast live at 12:30 on 1 March 2017.

They are free to attend – if you are not a current subscriber to our webinar programme, simply email to be set up with access. For full details see our website at:

Stephen Honey, Head of Learning, LexisNexis.

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About the author:
Stephen has 25 years’ experience in the legal information and training business and, prior to joining LexisNexis in November 2014, launched a range of e-learning solutions for the Law Society. His arrival coincides with a period of transformation in the regulation of legal CPD and   he is excited at the prospect of ensuring that LexisNexis’ professional learning portfolio develops to meet practitioners’ changing needs.