10 February 2023

In March 2014, I sat around a table (if I’m honest a little/lot nervous!) with representatives from education providers, the government, regulatory bodies and other firms, with the sole aim of developing the Solicitor Apprenticeship framework (now known as standards). This group (and others across a number of sectors) became known as Trailblazers.

I will hold my hands up, my understanding of Apprenticeships pre-2014 were that they existed solely for trade related professions. This is no disrespect to my Careers Advisors, I very happily ended up on the well-trodden route of GCSEs, A-Levels, university, job. Ironically the legal sector never crossed my mind – suggesting perhaps that I had not really paid that much attention to the ever-present “what next” as I graduated.

My role is always to look at talent – attracting, recruiting and retaining specifically. It was obvious then, as it is now, that not all potential lawyers fit the traditional route to this career. For many years we had been talking about how we widen access to the legal profession. Becoming a lawyer felt out of reach to many, with degrees (both under and post graduate) being a pre-requisite. 

When we received the invitation to join the Trailblazer group back at the beginning of 2014 (I checked, the deadline for registering interest was my husband’s birthday!), we knew this was something that could change the emerging talent/early careers landscape of our sector. And jumped at the chance to be involved.

Since then, Apprenticeships at Burges Salmon have gone from strength to strength. We launched the Legal scheme in 2016 and could not be more excited that our first cohort will be qualifying as Solicitors in September. The Business Apprentice scheme followed shortly after in 2018 and having paused during the pandemic years, re-launches with a new and exciting programme going live today!

Apprentices at the firm are not viewed as “short term” colleagues who are expected to move on once they qualify. We recruit to retain in all areas and no more so in Emerging Talent/Early Careers. The work our Apprentices do is real and worthwhile, whilst at the same time ensuring we follow the requirements of their study.

As I reflect nine years later, it is not an exaggeration to say that our schemes have surpassed all of my expectations. Without doubt, our amazing Legal and Business Apprentices are a huge part of our success, however I do want to mention all those behind the scenes:

The Supervisors who guide and mentor Apprentices from day 1 through to their End Point Assessments and qualification, the buddies who welcome and support nervous new starters and my colleagues in the People team who have navigated a huge amount of change in the Apprenticeship landscape.

But the final word, of course must go to the Apprentices themselves who have made a hugely positive impact on the firm. Good luck to all those approaching End Point Assessments, and a particular mention to anyone in their SQE year – you are all truly inspirational. 

 This article was written by Holly Fey.

Click here for more information about apprenticeships at Burges Salmon.

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