Barclays mulls legal apprenticeships launch after trainee intake cuts

Barclays Bank is considering launching a legal apprenticeship scheme, with plans understood to be in the early stages of development.

This follows news from BBC earlier this month that it is to recruit three legal services apprentices into its in-house team (5 March 2014). While many firms have looked to launch legal apprenticeships – DWF, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Pinsent Masons among them (18 October 2013) – it is still a rare occurrence for in-house departments.

Barclays is thought to have made no decision as yet on the numbers it is likely to recruit if its plans go ahead, but it is thought that the primary destination for any new apprentices will be its retail arm and Barclaycard, which already employs paralegals.

Barclays legal director David Jackson said: “We’re looking across the bank and working out which departments have the right type and level of work to be able to support apprentices.

“The retail bank is very keen to do it, as is Barclaycard. Even within the investment bank, there are elements where there is work to keep apprentices fed. Everyone is looking at the scheme with very open eyes.”

The apprenticeship is one strand of the bank’s citizenship agenda, part of which is dedicated to increasing access to the profession.

Barclays’ recruitment of trainees has reduced in recent times, with Jackson saying that recruitment had become “patchy”.

He added that parts of the legal functions did still take trainees but that it was no longer across the board.

“It’s not that we can’t train them up, it’s that given the current cost constraints we can’t guarantee that they will be able to stay with us, qualify and really get the right experience,” he explained. “We are much more likely to take people with experience directly from law firms.”

The move to apprenticeships follows the publication of the Legal Education and Training Review published last year, which encouraged alternative routes into the legal profession (1 July 2013).

In December, the SRA director of education Julie Brannan told Lawyer 2B that she wanted to see “lots of different pathways which would include graduate and non-graduate routes into the profession” (6 December 2013).