For National Apprenticeship Week 2019, which runs from 4-8 March, Katherine Howells-Price, Scotland and Specialist Litigation Divisional Manager, looks at the instrumental role Lyons Davidson has played in developing legal apprenticeships.
In 2011, Lyons Davidson was contacted by Skills for Justice through CILEx and asked if we wanted to join a steering group to help to develop National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the functions carried out by people delivering paralegal services. I went along to this meeting in London not really sure what to expect – and certainly not anticipating the extent and importance of the project that we were commencing.
Those NOS formed the basis of the very first legal apprenticeships in law in England and, between now and then, we as a business have helped to carry out the same work in Wales and Scotland, putting us in the unique position of having an in-depth understanding of these new qualifications across all three areas. We have also employed apprentices in each part of Great Britain, and helped to promote and lobby by speaking at the House of Lords, the Welsh Assembly and the Millennium Stadium.
Delivering legal apprenticeships in National Apprenticeship Week 2019 and beyond
As a law firm, Lyons Davidson’s first duty is to our clients, ensuring that we provide an excellent and expert service. We believe our involvement in developing and delivering apprenticeships plays a part in this, by allowing us to find and work with those individuals who have the potential to become excellent lawyers but who may not have had the opportunity or desire to achieve this in the traditional way.
In England, the legal apprenticeship suite is the most developed and established, with three trailblazer apprenticeships now available: Paralegal, CILEx and Solicitor. At Lyons Davidson, we recognise the value that these pathways into a legal career bring the profession, individuals and law firms themselves. Learning by doing has long been recognised as an effective way of cementing knowledge and skills, and this being underpinned by rigorous academic standards ensures that we are not creating a two-tier system of those who qualify the traditional way and those who undertake an apprenticeship. In fact, Solicitor apprentices will be required to pass the Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination, just like someone who has undertaken the LLB and LPC.
Scotland saw its first Paralegal Apprenticeship launch just last year: the Modern Apprenticeship in Paralegal Practice, delivered by Scotia Law Training. We were delighted to work with them in bringing this to life and to have one of the first paralegal apprentices in Scotland.
In Wales, the programme sadly stalled after the pilot for the Level 4 apprenticeship. Some frameworks remained live until 2017 but were then pulled through lack of interest. We have been lobbying since then with other stakeholders to try to get this up and running again in a way that best fits the legal industry in Wales. We are hopeful that this will happen soon.
Wider promotion of law apprenticeships
In the future, I would like to see much wider promotion of legal apprenticeships to give people a real choice when they are picking what path they want to follow for a career in law and to ensure that more law firms know what an apprenticeship is and how to bring them in to their practice.
Personally, I am looking forward to the first apprenticeship-qualified partner; who knows? They may even be at Lyons Davidson.
For more information on National Apprenticeship Week 2019 and the developmental role Lyons Davidson has played in legal apprenticeships, please contact Katherine Howells-Price by emailing [email protected] or calling 0117 904 7002. For more information about apprenticeships at Lyons Davidson, visit the Careers section of our website.