Kennedys is to run a new training scheme that merges law school and the training contract.

The new Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeship (GSA), as the firm is calling it, is to begin in autumn 2021. It will be open to law graduates coming straight out of university, or non-law graduates who have passed the conversion course, and will last 30 months. It will not replace the firm’s existing training contract or apprenticeship scheme, which will run alongside it.

Those on the scheme will be able start working at Kennedys, bypassing the Legal Practice Course or any similar course, instead learning those skills in-house at the firm and one day a week at BPP Law School.

The GSA has been made possible by the introduction of the new Solicitors Qualification Exam regime, which allows much more variety in how lawyers are educated and trained. Graduates on GSA will sit Parts 1 and 2 of the SQE at some point towards the end of their apprenticeship

The firm is looking to recruit 13 graduates for its initial 2021 intake: six in London, three in Birmingham, two in Cambridge, and one each in Manchester and Taunton. The trainees completing the GSA training programme will earn the equivalent of Kennedys’ traditional trainee solicitors, beginning at £38,500 in London and £27,500 in the regions.

Kennedys’ HR director Caroline Wilson said: “Introducing the new SQE route to qualification will allow us to attract and train people from a much wider range of backgrounds, as graduates can start earning as soon as they commence the Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeship.

“A more diverse workforce brings with it better perspectives and ideas, which is crucial as we look to transform legal services for our clients. We look forward to meeting our applicants over the coming months and watching them succeed as the next generation of lawyers at Kennedys.”