24 March 2016

Burges Salmon hosted its first apprenticeship open evening on Tuesday 15 March, as part of National Apprenticeship Week, to raise awareness about new opportunities in the legal sector. The event was attended by students, parents and careers advisors from the local area. It followed an internal lunchtime event that Burges Salmon held on the same day. Attendees included students from St Brendan’s Sixth Form, Brimsham Green School, Mangotsfield School, St Mary Redcliffe, St Gregory’s as well as careers advisors from Wellsway School.

Attendees were welcomed by the firm's Chief People Officer Robert Halton who gave an overview of Burges Salmon’s involvement in the Trailblazer apprenticeship initiative before explaining the benefits of apprenticeships for the business and the apprentices.

The event was attended by representatives from BPP, appointed lead training provider for the new scheme. Managing Director Alison Wells and Bristol Centre Manager Liz Polding gave an overview of the new apprenticeship standards that have been developed for the legal sector. At present three new apprenticeship standards have been developed by the employer-led Trailblazer group, of which Burges Salmon is a member. A new Level 3 Paralegal, Level 6 Chartered Legal Executive and Level 7 Solicitor standard have been approved and are now ready for delivery. The speakers explained how the Level 3 programme that Burges Salmon will be offering in the first instance can be topped up to a Level 4 qualification, which is equivalent to the 1st year of undergraduate study. It has now been agreed that completion of the two year paralegal programme will reduce the time needed to complete the solicitor apprenticeship from six years to five. This means that apprentices who start in September 2016 could qualify as a solicitor by 2023 if they progress through the whole programme.

Burges Salmon is keen to see apprentices on the Level 7 programme, which would see individuals qualify as a solicitor without completing a conventional degree. It has chosen to offer the Level 3 programme to give students the chance to ascertain whether a career in law is what they really want and provide a genuine alternative career route to university.

The event included a talk on ‘life as a paralegal' by current Burges Salmon Service Delivery Centre paralegals Sian James and Michael Jenkins. The new legal apprentices will join this team in September and many from the team turned out to speak to students about life at the firm.

The evening finished with an overview of the recruitment process by trainee resourcing team member Frances Bennett. The entry requirements for the legal apprentice role have been set at the same level as those for the graduate process. The firm is looking for the same quality of candidate to fill the apprenticeship vacancies as the trainee solicitor roles. The ultimate goal of the firm is to develop quality qualified solicitors who will contribute to its success in the future.

The recruitment process for the legal apprentice vacancies is now open and will close on 22 April. This will be followed by a selection event in May.

Feedback from attendees was positive, with several commenting that they would be submitting an application in due course. Parents and careers advisors were impressed and took away more information to pass onto their students. The firm will be attending events at Brimsham Green School, Bath College and Bristol Metropolitan Academy over the next few weeks as part of the apprenticeship launch campaign. It also hosted an internal session for parents who want to familiarise themselves with the new GCSE grading system and wider apprenticeship opportunities.

For further information, please see the Apprenticeship section of the Burges Salmon Careers webpage.

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