Two magic circle firms have ruled out introducing legal apprenticeships, months before legal trainees are expected to be able to join the government’s Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme.
Both Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May told the Gazette that they have no plans to take advantage of the new route into the profession.
A spokesperson for Clifford Chance said that the scheme is ‘not the right model’ for the firm. It will instead focus on the existing training contract route and breaking down barriers to entry, such as giving work experience to those from less privileged backgrounds.
The news comes shortly after Freshfields became the first magic circle firm to indicate that it may start offering apprenticeships as a route to paralegal work and full qualification at its Manchester office.
A spokesperson at Freshfields said: ‘We’re looking at a number of ways to attract talented people in Manchester and the apprenticeship model is one that we are hoping to be able to offer later this year.’
Last September the government approved standards for the new apprenticeship route which will enable apprentices to qualify as a solicitor, paralegal or chartered legal executive. The solicitor apprenticeship route will take five to six years to complete.
The scheme was criticised earlier this year by the City of London Law Society, which said it was not convinced standards would be maintained.
Linklaters and Allen & Overy said that they are keeping an eye on the reforms but were not able to confirm their plans in this area.
Claire Wright, graduate recruitment partner at Allen & Overy, said: ‘We are, of course, currently reviewing our approach to apprenticeships across all areas of the firm in light of the apprenticeship levy, but we are unable to confirm our approach at this time.’
A spokesperson for Linklaters said the firm is monitoring progress on the development of the Trailblazer apprenticeships, but said it was not something the firm was in a position to talk about.