Vac scheme holidayThe accountants are coming… again

The biggest news of August – EY bought Riverview.

The accountancy giant’s acquisition of the NewLaw business is specifically aimed at helping EY scale its legal managed services offering and help its clients increase efficiency, manage risk, improve service transparency and reduce the costs of routine legal activities.

“We plan to take the 100 people in Riverview and build that out into two to three thousand people over the next five to seven years,” says EY’s Chris Price.

From 100 to 3,000 in five years: that is quite the statement of intent. The Lawyer’s deputy editor Matt Byrne looked more closely at the scale of EY’s ambitions.

There are plenty more successful small businesses like Riverview out there: gunnercooke and Obelisk to name but two. EY’s move highlights that there are lots of acquisition opportunities for firms looking for a fast-track to scale up their NewLaw credentials.

Firms scramble to ‘tech up’ their training contracts

Other interesting news has come on the junior end of the profession where a trend is emerging – the teched-up training contract.

In the spring Allen & Overy (A&O) is launched a graduate scheme for candidates with STEM or Economics degrees in London, focusing on legal technology and project management.

Going one better, Clifford Chance has now launched a similar programme, but with one key difference – it is a tech-focused training contract that will lead to qualification as a solicitor at the end.

Addleshaw Goddard has got in on the act too: it will offer trainees six-month seats in its in-house innovation and legal technology team

This could all prove to be one of those fads that dies out in a year or two – but don’t count on it. The brightest graduates have latched on to the idea that technology is changing law firms and this will be an appealing proposition to many of them.

The revolution in legal education takes another step forward

Connected to the trend of the tech training contract is the upcoming change to the way lawyers are educated. The Solicitors Qualification Exam is a key component of this and Kaplan has been announced as the organisation that will set it.

Kaplan will now go off and design the exam. The SRA still hopes to get the new system off the ground by autumn 2020 – but with law schools unable to start the lengthy process of designing courses until the content of the exam is known, expect slippage.

Our conversations with lawyers across the City suggests that most partners are not up to speed with the so-called ‘super-exam’ and have little knowledge of what it will entail. But when your new trainees arrive on their first day having been taught in a totally different way, it is going to affect your firm. It’s time to start paying attention.

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