Managing things differently: Clifford Chance plants the first seeds by launching the first-ever legal project manager apprenticeship scheme

July 25, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Clifford Chance will be teaming up with apprenticeship specialists WhiteHat to train school-leavers in a variety of project management skills and tools, marking the launch of the first-ever legal project manager apprenticeship scheme.

What does this mean?

Clifford Chance’s apprenticeship programme aims to tap into a new source of recruits, as the market for qualified legal project managers becomes more and more competitive. Legal-project managers apply the concepts of project management to the mechanics and business of legal services rather than doing substantive legal work itself. Project management identifies the desired result and methodically structures the work to allow project teams across industries to “work smarter, not harder” and has thus proven key to increasing efficiency in legal service delivery. For example, project managers may promote adherence to the cost, schedule and scope of work. The 18-month Clifford Chance apprenticeship does not lead to a qualification as a solicitor, although it can convert to a permanent position within the firm. Clifford Chance has already recruited six students with level 3 BTEC or equivalent A-level qualifications, and the newly confirmed apprentices will have a starting salary of £24,000.

Why should law firms care?

The launch of Clifford Chance’s Project Management apprenticeship is significant in that it provides an outstanding alternative to traditional university routes into the legal profession. The creation of apprenticeship opportunities at some of the world’s best law firms is helping to change the perceptions of apprenticeships as low quality. Such high-class apprenticeships that offer young people direct work experience in their field of interest are more attractive to some than leaving university with an appalling amount of student debt!

Moreover, Clifford Chance’s launch of the first-ever apprenticeship scheme reflects the expansion of project management throughout firms. As lawyers increasingly find themselves working side by side with professionals from other disciplines, the need for project management to ensure effective communication between professionals and ensure quality delivery to the business challenges of their clients has become even more necessary. With greater demand for project management in law firms, we may even see law firms requiring applicants to take at least an entry-level course in project management. The rise of project management demonstrates that even when the world places a larger focus on technology, projects still remain primarily people-focused. It is therefore likely that firms will start propping up more and more project management apprenticeships in the near future.

Report written by Lina Jeffcock

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