As part of its commitment to enabling people from different backgrounds to enter the legal profession, Huddersfield-based law firm Ridley and Hall is now taking part in a national apprenticeship scheme designed specifically for solicitors.
Over the last three years, the firm has offered apprenticeships in Business Administration Level 2 through Kirklees College. It is now working with law school BPP in Leeds to enable young people to go on to undertake a two year Paralegal Apprenticeship Level 4, followed by a four year Solicitor Apprenticeship which will result in the apprentices becoming fully qualified solicitors.
The first apprentices who will embark on the first stage of the programme in September are Anna Woolard, age 20, of Elland; Liam Jackson, 19, of Huddersfield; and 19 year old Natalie Stephenson-Quayle from Leeds. Both Anna and Liam completed Business Administration Apprenticeships with Ridley and Hall and are currently working as trainee legal secretaries with the firm; Anna is in the private client team and Liam is in the property practice. Natalie joined Ridley and Hall in November 2019 and is working in the care team.
Tracey Armitage, partner and HR & operations manager at Ridley and Hall, explains, “Traditionally, to become a lawyer you had to be a graduate, undertake a law conversion course and then seek a training contract with a firm. Obviously, this route does not suit everyone and when we heard of the Solicitor Apprenticeship, we thought it was a fantastic way of supporting people who don’t want to go to university, to enter the profession.
“Many young people prefer vocational training to academic study and these apprenticeships combine paid, on-the-job learning with a day-a-week study at college - what’s more, it takes a similar length of time to following the traditional qualification pathway. It’s also great for us as employers as it means that we will attract talented people from more diverse backgrounds and the fully qualified solicitors who emerge from the scheme will have six years of real life legal experience behind them. Not only will this mean that they have a solid grounding in providing legal advice, it will also give them a more rounded approach to life, helping them to empathise with clients.”