Gordons’ Pioneering Legal Apprenticeship Scheme Celebrates First Graduate

Wednesday 8th March 2017

Yorkshire law firm Gordons’ ground-breaking legal apprenticeship scheme is celebrating its first graduate following 23-year-old Bryony Russell’s qualification as a chartered legal executive employment lawyer.

The milestone occasion marks just over five years since Gordons launched its innovative legal apprenticeship programme. It was the first of its kind in the legal sector when it was introduced as Gordons apprentices train as chartered legal executive lawyers to the maximum Level 6, which is an honours degree equivalent, rather than the Level 3 offered by most similar schemes.

The programme has since become a multiple award-winner and led to the firm being described as “leading the way on social mobility in the legal profession” by Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission chair, Alan Milburn.

The firm created the Gordons Apprentice Programme (GAP) to provide an alternative route into the profession for bright youngsters without needing to attend university.

Commenting on Bryony’s graduation, Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission chair, Alan Milburn, said: “Bryony’s success is a great example to others. With their apprenticeship scheme, Gordons have led the way in opening the doors of the legal profession to all.”

Last year a nationwide survey by careers advice company AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk, placed Gordons in the UK’s top 30 higher apprenticeship employers and in the top 100 employers for school and college leavers for 2016-17. No other law firm was in the top 30 higher apprenticeship employers, a list which included the likes of Barclays, National Grid, J.P. Morgan, Bentley Motors, PwC, BBC, Sky and IBM.

Reacting to her achievement, Bryony said: “It has been an amazing five years. I’ve been provided with on-the-job training from day one and given a fantastic opportunity to establish a legal career. I’m delighted to be the programme’s first graduate.

“The experience and knowledge I have gained from working with other fee earners has helped me continuously grow and develop. It has given me skills that I would not have learnt at university and I am now putting everything I have discovered over the apprenticeship into practice.

Since GAP’s inception, the firm has taken on 17 apprentices. The programme involves 18-year-old school leavers training as chartered legal executive lawyers over five years through practical experience and academic study. Gordons pays their salaries and course fees, meaning they have no student debt.

Gordons managing partner, Paul Ayre, said: “We’re proud of our apprenticeship programme and of this momentous first graduation. We were the first law firm to introduce an apprenticeship scheme of this type and many in our sector have followed.

“We did it because we want our firm to be full of talented people with a great attitude. We don’t care where they start out in life or what school they went to. We wanted to find bright young people that work hard and that is exactly what we found with Bryony.

“She has been excellent throughout her apprenticeship and proven herself to be a real asset to the firm. Now she is qualified, Bryony’s career progression at Gordons is potentially unlimited. We have every confidence that she will continue to develop as she has done over the past five years.”

Gordons has offices in Leeds and Bradford and employs 196 people. Clients include retailers B&M, Iceland and Morrisons; construction and high performance materials manufacturer Saint Gobain; international brewers Molson Coors; and the world’s largest electrical heating business Glen Dimplex. For further information on the firm visit www.gordonsllp.com.