Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson has launched an in-house pupillage scheme.

The US law firm has won approval from the Bar Standards Board to offer the year-long barrister training course, and its first pupil started at the start of September. It will begin recruiting for a second shortly.

James Kitching, who is a qualified barrister and disputes resolution partner at Fried Frank said that the decision was made in part to encourage other non-chambers to offer pupillage.

“One of the things that has happened in the last 10 to 15 years is that in-house pupillages has virtually disappeared. In the past many big companies offered internal pupillages, but that has just died out,” he told Lawyer 2B.

“We think pupils are great: their drafting skills are great, their presentation skills are relevant, and we increasingly do a lot of our own in-house advocacy, and we really want to encourage the reinvigoration of employed pupillages, especially at a time when the number on offer at the self-employed bar is shrinking.”

Fried Frank’s inaugural pupil is spending her first six under Kitching’s supervision and the second six on secondment at 33 Bedford Row, although the firm says it is looking at ramping up its internal training so that eventually pupils will spend the whole year within the firm.

“The first-six experience we can give is as at least as good as a first six in chambers,” Kitching said. “They will get the highest level of work, going to arbitration hearings rather down to the local magistrates court and watching a driving disqualification hearing, and taking on cutting edge commercial stuff.”

Another Fried Frank partner and qualified barrister, Justin Michaelson, is lined up to act as supervisor for the next pupil who arrives.

While Kitching did not reveal pupil salary details, he said it is comparable with good quality commercial sets, if not the very highest-paying ones.

Earlier this year, Fried Frank launched its own solicitor training contract in London with the hire of three trainees from the collapsing King and Wood Mallesons. The firm had anticipated starting a training contract in 2018 and was in talks with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, but brought forward its plans as a result of the events unfolding at KWM.