A groundbreaking solicitor training model has launched this week, targeting City law firms and in-house legal departments.

The first non-legal service provider to be authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to take on trainees, Acculaw claims it will cut costs and improve efficiency for firms looking to find future lawyers.

The company will recruit trainees based on the requirements of firms and in-house departments, and says graduates can work for more than one firm as they experience a mixture of cultures and clients.

Acculaw’s Susan Cooper said the model aims to deal with the alleged oversupply of graduates looking to enter the profession. It is being suggested that the move could lead to a sharp fall in the number of training contracts offered by City firms.

‘We are very keen to improve diversity in the profession,’ she said. ‘Our model gives graduates who have perhaps had less exposure to corporate life or who initially lack confidence, a far greater opportunity to demonstrate their skills to prospective employers.

‘It is a well-known fact that there is an untapped talent pool out there.’

Trainees will be employed from postgraduate law schools by Acculaw rather than a firm, saving firms from spending on up-front investment and allowing them to return trainees when workloads decline.

Movement of trainees between firms will be based on business need, the training needs of the trainee and the fit of the trainee with the firm.

Cooper added: ‘The number of lawyers available in the market should be governed by the supply and demand of legal services, not the temporary effects of recession or the lure of short-term gains from outsourcing work to low-cost jurisdictions.’