A Yorkshire law firm has launched a new legal apprenticeship which will enable school-leavers to train as lawyers without needing to attend university.
One Guardian journalist called the move part of a “new mood of egalitarianism sweeping the profession”, coming about just as the cap on tuition fees is due to come off next year.
Gordons, which has offices in Leeds and Bradford, will pay apprentices a salary and also pay for them to train as legal executives over four years. In course fees alone, the law firm will invest at least £32,000 in each apprentice.
The apprenticeships were the idea of Paul Ayre, a managing partner at Gordons. He came up with it after he watched “Who Gets the Best Jobs?” on TV, a programme about social mobility in the professions.
Paul said: “The programme highlighted that social mobility in Britain today is reduced from that of 20 years ago. The legal profession has many barriers to entry which can work against people who would otherwise have the ability to forge successful careers in the law.”
He added that one of the main barriers to a career in law is the need to attend university. He said the firm wanted to create opportunities for young people who can’t afford to attend university but have the skills and ambition to become lawyers.
Paul said the firm is proud of operating as a “meritocracy”.
Following an interview, ten work experience candidates will start with Gordons this month. After a trial period, this ten will then be whittled down to five who will be offered the full four-year apprenticeship. Gordons is getting the word out about the apprenticeships via local schools and colleges.