A group of law firms has come together to create a paralegal apprenticeship, as financial pressures on the sector start to take effect.

Nine firms based in the north-west have formed the Legal Sector Employer Skills Group to take on 100 paralegals, who start their apprenticeships in September.

Emma Holt (pictured), managing partner for Pannone and chair of the group, said the scheme offers an alternative route into law for school leavers and non-legally-qualified staff members.

‘The reality of the modern legal world is that, while there will always be highly skilled solicitors and partners within a legal practice, law firms are employing more paralegals and this is an opportunity for students who might not otherwise consider the law as an option,’ said Holt.

Other firms involved are Slater Heelis, Chafes, Colemans ctts, Hill Dickinson, Horwich Farrelly, Stephensons, SAS Daniels and Weightmans.

The move comes as the Law Society continues work on developing an accreditation scheme for non-qualified staff at law firms and ABSs.

Papers for last week’s council meeting explained the scheme was in line with government-led plans to ‘professionalise’ this sector of the workforce.

The scheme is set to start this autumn and will involve paralegals showing competence in research, drafting, and ethical and regulatory knowledge.