Hill Dickinson has begun ringfencing some training contracts for its own paralegals.

The firm’s plan is to a set aside at least two spaces per year for internal candidates who come through its ‘Growing Talent’ programme. Intended for high achievers who have been with the firm for at least a year, candidates cannot apply directly for the programme. Rather, they are nominated by their business group leader to go into the 12-month development and assessment programme.

Candidates on the programme must complete mandatory training sessions. Those who pass the ongoing assessments are then eligible to be considered for a training contract.

Previously, all Hill Dickinson paralegals would have had to go through the same application process as external training contract candidates. Growing Talent provides an alternative route to apply for a training contract, and is the only available route for internal candidates who do not meet the firm’s minimum academic requirements of ABB and a 2:1.

The firm’s head of talent and development, Sarah Pickerill, told Lawyer 2B: “Developing our people is a top priority for us. Our Growing Talent programme not only gives our top paralegals general development opportunities, it also provides them with an alternative route to securing a training contract.”

“Last year we offered four of our existing paralegals training contracts for 2016 and 2017 and we hope to do it again this year for contracts starting in 2018. It makes complete business sense for us, we know these people, their potential and that they fit with our culture.”

Last year, Lawyer 2B revealed that Trowers & Hamlins is to ringfence some training contracts for members of its own paralegal pool.