Clifford Chance has hired the majority of apprentices enrolled on its project management scheme into full-time roles, with a second round planned.

In 2019, the magic circle firm debuted an apprenticeship training scheme for legal project managers that was developed in collaboration with experts from WhiteHat, a startup that creates alternatives to university through apprenticeships and was co-founded by Euan Blair, the eldest son of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

As part of the first cohort, six A-level students (level 3 BTEC/NVQ or equivalent) were trained to become legal project executives in the London headquarters of the firm, starting in June on a contract that lasted 18 months.

The scheme, which offered an entry-level salary of £24,000, officially concluded in November and resulted in the hire of seven out of the nine apprentices as full time permanent junior legal project managers.

Caroline Flanagan, head of legal project management for the UK, said of the initiative: “I think the biggest benefit to bringing in our legal project management apprentices is the diversity of thought they have brought into the team and a fresh approach to things.”

She added: “Within best delivery [the firm’s technology and transaction support arm] we have a culture of challenging the status quo within our own teams, and I can personally say that I have also learned a lot from working so closely with them. We also try to operate in as flat a structure as possible, which has meant that our junior legal project managers have their own portfolio of work, giving them the exposure to the interesting work they signed up to, and I truly believe we have future industry leaders within the group.”

The firm is looking to run a second edition of the apprenticeship and it has been expanding its capabilities globally over the last six months, especially when it comes to its legal project analyst team in Delhi.

The expansion includes the creation of a legal project management hub in Warsaw, where managers will support projects across the Continental European offices while complementing existing outposts in Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Amsterdam.

The apprenticeship was the brainchild of former best delivery programme director Kerstin Morgan, who has left early this year to join Mishcon De Reya as its first head of practice transformation.

Clifford Chance had previously launched a technology-focused internship for some of its future trainees, partnering with a lawtech start-up Lexoo, an online legal marketplace.