Big Four accountant subsidiary Deloitte Legal today continued its assault on the legal profession by announcing plans to recruit its own trainee solicitors.

The firm has opened applications for its graduate training contract programme, which will incorporate the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination. The first intake will be around 10 but this is expected to grow with the expansion of the business.

The three-year training programme will begin in September 2020 and has been developed alongside the University of Law to prepare students for the new exam.

Deloitte Legal has already built a team of more than 200 people and this is its first foray into training solicitors. The graduate programme will be seen as further evidence that the big four accountancy firms – all of which now have legal services divisions – are mounting a sustained charge on the established legal profession.

Michael Castle, UK managing partner for Deloitte Legal, said the business can outdo law firm rivals by offering new recruits a more rounded experience of work in professional services.

‘Deloitte Legal is in the fortunate position of being able to immediately adopt the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam, allowing us to be at the forefront of what is undoubtedly an exciting new era in legal education and training,’ he said. ‘We want to broaden access to the profession and make it as inclusive as possible. This is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring solicitors to earn while they learn, while also encountering the wealth of expertise beyond legal work that Deloitte Legal can offer as a multidisciplinary firm.’

The new SQE training contracts enable law students to take up their place straight out of university, allowing them to start earning immediately while gaining qualifying legal work experience before sitting their SQE 1 and 2. This differs from the current arrangements where trainees do not take up their place until after they have completed an additional year studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Deloitte Legal says successful applicants to its programme will be client-facing during their training periods and experience areas of practice including tax litigation, employment and corporate and commercial law.

Professor Andrea Nollent, vice-chancellor and chief executive of ULaw, said: ‘It has always been hugely important for us to nurture the next generation of legal talent. With the new SQE training contracts allowing students to experience the real legal world earlier in their career and education, we are now able to team with leading organisations such as Deloitte to continue our aim of providing a more practical and hands-on legal education.’