BBC to offer legal service apprenticeships

The BBC is to hire three legal services apprentices to join its in-house legal team in London, making it the latest organisation to throw its weight behind legal apprenticeships.

The spots will be open to school leavers starting in September 2014 and the two-year Advanced Apprenticeship course will include elements from the new Chartered Institute of Legal Executive (CILEx) Level 3 (1 October 2013).

The new CILEx course takes around 18 months to complete and is based partly on knowledge-based, academic learning and partly on practical work-based competence. The BBC apprentices, who will be taught by CILEx law school and recruited by Vision Apprentices, will take CILEx units in employment law and practice as well as workplace skills. 

However they will also receive hands-on experience in the rights and business affairs teams within the BBC, learning about the BBC group’s commercial and corporate interests.

BBC group general counsel Sarah Jones said: “The apprentices will work under the supervision of qualified personnel in the employment and commercial teams to begin with and we expect them to start making a real contribution to the department’s work as they progress through their two-year apprenticeships.”

The decision comes amid mounting pressure for businesses to offer more school leaver roles. Apprenticeships in legal services are still a fairly new concept but a number of law firms and companies have embraced them.

By the end of last year several law firms including Browne Jacobson, Co-operative Legal Services, DWF, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Pinsent Masons had rolled out apprentice schemes (18 October 2013).

The majority have chosen to use CILEx for the academic side of the training, with the level offered varying between firms.

The move to apprenticeships follows the publication of the Legal Education and Training Review published last year which encouraged alternative routes into the legal profession (1 July 2013).

In December, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) director of education Julie Brannan told Lawyer2B that she wanted to see “lots of different pathways which would include graduate and non-graduate routes into the profession” (6 December 2013).

One example is Field Fisher Waterhouse, which employed five apprentices following the launch of its in-house academy Step2Success in May 2013 (9 May 2013). The firm dedicates half a day per week to studying for CILEx’s Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice and after five years the recruits will be able to qualify as solicitors through CILEx.

The London Borough of Hillingdon was also a notable recent entrant to the apprenticeship market last year, kicking off an in-house apprentice scheme in March to offer two-year contracts with the council to four school leavers (13 March 2013).

Last year two of the BBC’s legal team made it into The Lawyer’s Hot 100, with group general counsel Sarah Jones (28 January 2013) and head of litigation Nadia Banno both receiving plaudits (20 January 2013).