Simmons & Simmons is to launch a ‘Trainee Skills Academy’ for its new joiners.

Future Simmons trainees will join the academy at the start of their Legal Practice Course (LPC), and remain part of it all the way though their training contract up until the point of qualification, learning a variety of skills focused on four key areas: technical, people, client and commercial acumen.

The move means that Simmons will phase out its bespoke legal MBA, which it introduced in 2009 and made compulsory for all trainees in 2012. A spokesperson for Simmons & Simmons told Lawyer 2B that the firm considered the MBA a success, but the new skills academy would add additional elements that the MBA did not cover, such as personal skills and resilience.

However, in future, all Simmons joiners will be given the option of continuing their studies upon completion of the LPC to gain a MA (LPC with Business). Those opting in will complete two further online modules and a business intelligence project.

The first intake to go through the academy from beginning to end will be the future Simmons trainees starting the LPC in September 2016, while the September 2016 trainee intake will also complete part of the programme.

As well as utilising its own internal staff, Simmons is partnering with three external organisations to deliver the teaching, including BPP Law School, the firm’s preferred LPC provider.

Graduate recruitment and development partner Alan Gar said: “As part of our investment in our people and their future careers with us, we are committed to developing a high performance culture and fostering innovation.” 

“We recognise the importance of developing not only technical skills, but also business and commercial acumen, client relationship skills and personal skills such as self-management, communication and resilience. The early adoption of the MBA was a great success and has enabled us, in creating the Skills Academy, to provide a more blended approach and programme that is relevant, bespoke and tailored to our trainees’ needs looking ahead.

Simmons has also changed its trainee recruitment system this year, placing less emphasis on candidates’ past achievements.