A Manchester-headquartered law firm which co-created what is believed to be the UK’s first legal apprenticeships scheme has taken on a record 18 apprentices this year.

Horwich Farrelly announced today that this year’s intake is the largest since it co-created the UK’s first legal apprenticeships and that it places the specialist industry law practice ‘in the top tier nationally for law firms offering work-based schemes’.

Fifteen apprentices will be based at the firm’s Manchester head office, two in Liverpool and one in London. The two-year programme has also been extended to the firm’s recoveries team, in additional to the counter-fraud, credit hire and defendant teams already involved.

Managing partner Rob Barrett (pictured) said 2016 was the first time the firm has filled its annual quota.

Last year the government announced that the term ‘apprenticeship’ would be protected in law, giving it equal legal treatment as a degree. Its commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 would also be enshrined in law.

Barrett said many young people were actively seeking out the firm’s stand at careers fairs.

‘The most interesting observation has been a sea change in the attitudes of the parents we meet, who are now far more open to apprenticeships being a valid alternative to university.’

The apprenticeships officially start in September. However, many have taken up the offer to join the firm over the summer ‘to get a head start’, Barrett said.

Meanwhile, apprenticeships in conveyancing and probate are expected to begin from March next year in Wales, specialist regulator the Council for Licensed Conveyancers said today.