Solicitor apprenticeship scheme started by Womble Bond Dickinson and Bristol City Council

March 12, 2019
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The Bristol office of transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has teamed up with Bristol City Council to launch a solicitor apprenticeship scheme aimed at widening entry to the legal profession.

The apprenticeships will take six years to complete and consist of four years studying towards a law degree. 

While they will be employed on a full-time basis, the apprentices will be expected to complete distance learning, with study days at university.

For the final two years the apprentices will join the graduate rotation and newly-qualified solicitor process in WBD and the council.

The scheme, announced last week to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, is aimed at supporting social mobility, opening up new routes into the legal profession and improving employability for young people.

WBD, a top 20 UK law firm, will take on three or four young people a year and the council at least one under the scheme. The two decided to collaborate on the launch and promote it to widen take-up among Bristol’s young people.

WBD was among the first in the legal profession to make legal apprenticeships available and already runs a successful solicitor apprenticeship programme in its Newcastle and Southampton offices. The firm, which has its second largest UK office in Bristol, employs a total of 37 apprentices, including solicitor apprentices, paralegal apprentices and apprentices working in support teams including HR, facilities and IT.

Bristol-based WBD head of recruitment Sam Lee said: “We were thrilled to launch our solicitor apprenticeship scheme on the same week as National Apprenticeship Week. Hiring apprentices is absolutely the right thing to do in our sector, creating alternative avenues for people who believe that university isn’t the right path for them.

“We have been amazed by the success of the scheme so far and the commitment shown by our apprentices.

“We will continue to develop and expand our apprenticeship offering and provide continued learning opportunities following our apprentices’ graduation.”

Bristol City Council manages, supports and develops new partnerships that promote higher level skills in the city through apprenticeships. The council has 185 staff engaged in apprenticeships at all levels of study and has assisted more than 2,000 local people gain new skills and sustainable careers through supported apprenticeship programmes.

The council’s head of legal service Nancy Rollason added: “We are pleased to be working with Womble Bond Dickinson to launch our first solicitor apprenticeship programme, which will be a rolling programme year on year. We are keen to recruit dynamic people from a diverse range of backgrounds who will have the opportunity to contribute to the life of the city and who want to pursue an alternative to university.”

Applications are due to close on April 30 with the successful candidates starting their role this September.

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