Knights chief favours apprenticeships over ‘outmoded’ training model

Knights Solicitors managing partner David Beech has claimed that the traditional training model is “dead” because it continues to teach students in the same way it did 30 years ago.

David Beech

“Students today are being taught the same way I was taught 30 years ago and the legal system is not the same as it was then,” Beech told The Lawyer. “The sector has changed. It will continue to change dramatically in the next 10 years and the training system needs to reflect that.”

The Midlands firm, which received a cash injection from former Dragons’ Den investor James Caan’s private equity vehicle Hamilton Bradshaw last year (12 June 2012) and converted to an ABS in January (19 December 2012), has rolled out an apprenticeship scheme that sees graduates work as paralegals for a year or two before being put through a training contract.

James Caan
James Caan

“It’s about helping people to launch their careers in a progressive way,” said Beech. “While qualification is delayed, the paralegals qualify when they’re actually ready to do the job. The current training contract squeezes too much into two years.”

Beech also argued that the traditional training model locks firms into expensive two-year contracts with people they have never worked with before.

“What business sense is there in hiring someone for two years who you do not know at all?” asked Beech. “We train our lawyers through an apprenticeship scheme and this way we get to know who they are and who we are investing in. On top of this they are often dedicated to a specific client and so get to know that client and the relevant work inside out.”

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