Following the success of the pioneering North East Solicitors Apprenticeship (NESA) programme, four new law firms have joined the scheme as applications open for a third consecutive year.
The ground breaking scheme, which was shortlisted for a British Legal Award in 2017 for ‘Legal Services Innovation’, has gone from strength to strength since it was introduced three years ago.
This year DRS Ltd, Hay & Kilner, Savage Silk and Ward Hadaway join NESA, alongside two of its founding members – Muckle LLP and Womble Bond Dickinson. In 2019, seven apprenticeships will be up for grabs and candidates have until Monday 8th April to apply for a place.
The six law firms have joined forces with CILEx Law School and Northumbria University to deliver the six-year apprenticeship programme. Each apprentice will obtain a law degree and postgraduate qualification while gaining the work experience required to become a solicitor.
NESA presents a brand new opportunity to nurture fresh talent from an untapped pool of aspiring lawyers and it means that skilful people are not lost to other sectors purely because of the cost of university education.
In total, 16 apprentices have been ‘learning and earning’ since the NESA programme was set up. Individuals who choose this innovative route receive a salary, study and qualify as a solicitor without having to pay university tuition fees.
Nicola Leyden, HR Director at Muckle LLP, said: “We are passionate about equality at Muckle and identified that talented young people could be missing out on opportunities to enter our profession due to the burden of university debt.
“I am therefore thrilled that NESA is proving to be a tremendous success. Our four apprentices are already making a difference in our business, and it’s fantastic that four new law firms are joining the programme.
“It shows that solicitor apprenticeships can work for practices of all sizes and we are immensely proud to be helping the North East establish itself as a UK leader in this area.”
Kevin Robertson, Head of Newcastle Office at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP, added: “Hiring apprentice solicitors is absolutely the right thing to do in our sector. We joined forces with NESA and other law firms to create alternative routes into the legal profession and open up opportunities for young people to earn while they train, avoiding the costs of university.
“We take pride in developing home grown talent as part of this trailblazing programme, which helps to make sure we have a continued pipeline of exceptional and talented people.
“Last year we recruited six solicitor apprentices across the business who have developed great skills and we look forward to recruiting again this year.”
Carly Auletta, Internal Recruiter at DRS said: “We pride ourselves on providing innovative, creative and forward thinking solutions to our clients, with our staff playing the central part in the high level service we deliver.
“We focus on offering excellent training, support and autonomy to our people so we’re delighted to have joined the hugely successful NESA programme and look forward to welcoming a solicitor apprentice to the firm.”
Jonathan Waters, Managing Partner at Hay & Kilner, said: “We are delighted to be joining this great scheme and are looking forward to working with our apprentice to ensure that they receive the necessary training and support to become a successful solicitor.”
Helen Casely, Finance and Operations Manager at Savage Silk, said: “We strongly believe in the growth and development of our employees and identified some time ago that recruiting apprentices is a fantastic opportunity.
“So when we heard about NESA it made complete sense to be involved. We are really excited about being part of the scheme and are very much looking forward to welcoming an apprentice solicitor later this year.”
Julie Huntingdon, Training Principal at Ward Hadaway, said: “We are delighted to be part of the programme as recruiting bright, enthusiastic and promising young people is essential to our business.
“The value of playing a part in a young person’s development cannot be understated and we recognise that apprenticeships across our business are a brilliant way to foster emerging talent.
“Having qualified by a non-conventional route myself, I’m a huge advocate of NESA which will now help shape our future recruitment planning in the North East.”