A TOP law firm has joined the country’s elite - by appointing a rising star as its first legal apprentice.
The coveted traineeships are usually the reserve of big city firms, but Cartmell Shepherd has stepped up and made history in Cumbria.
The move to offer the county’s first legal apprenticeship was made by managing director, Peter Stafford, who told aspiring solicitor Holly Moxon “You’re hired.”
Holly, 20, from Carlisle today spoke of her delight, as she started the six-year process of becoming a fully trained solicitor.
She said: “I had wanted to pursue a career in law since sixth form and I tried the university route in Liverpool, but I quickly realised it wasn't for me. I didn't like the lifestyle, I had just 10 hours of study a week and I didn’t feel that was very good value for the significant investment in university fees.
“I was also very conscious of the debt I would have after four years without having any guarantee of a training contract, so after three weeks, I decided to leave the course and return home to Carlisle. When I left everyone was really shocked and asked what my plan was. I felt a little lost, so I started to research alternative routes into law.”
It was through her research that Holly, a former pupil of Nelson Tomlinson School and Trinity Sixth Form, discovered legal apprenticeships, although they were only offered by companies based in big cities.
After seeking advice from careers service Inspira about the best way forward, she set about applying to law firms in the hope there may be a route into the career she had set her heart on.
She was offered an interview with Cartmell Shepherd and taken on initially as a business administration apprentice. As part of its internal reviews, the possibility of a solicitor apprenticeship was raised, and Holly is now operating in this new role.
One aim of Cartmell Shepherd’s business strategy is to invest in and provide training of the highest quality for all it’s staff
Peter Stafford is the managing director of Cartmell Shepherd and believes it is important that university is not seen as the only route into a career in law.
He said: “In the past, our procedure has been to recruit law students either in the final year of university or while doing their Legal Practice Course. We would invite - and get a lot of - applications, and through a process of shortlisting and interview, we would eventually employ a trainee solicitor.
“At Cartmell Shepherd we took the decision a few years ago that we would very much like to employ local people who are interested in staying with the firm when they have finished their training.
“The situation with Holly was that she had been known to us for over a year and rather than
sending her off to university, for her to return four years later, we pursued a different route.
“The beauty in an apprenticeship is that Holly stays with us for six years and will get great on-the-job experience across all of our departments. That’s valuable because learning the theory of being a lawyer is very different to the practice, which she will be exposed to.”
Taking on a legal apprentice represents a huge six-year commitment to the business. In addition to the investment in time which will be required by the Cartmells team, the financial cost is likely to be in the region of £200,000.
For Holly, that engenders a heightened sense of loyalty to the business: “I’m so determined to do my absolute best for the company,” she said.
“They have given me this incredible opportunity and I want to repay that with commitment and loyalty. I see many of the directors and solicitors as an inspiration as they started with the business as trainees and have been promoted through the company. I hope I have a long career with Cartmells.”