Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has launched an apprenticeship scheme for paralegals in its Manchester office.

The two-year apprenticeship will take on its first intake in October 2016 at the firm’s legal services centre (LSC) in Manchester.

University of Law (ULaw) will deliver the programme, which has been specifically designed for Freshfields, in partnership with Damar Training.

Damar Training specialises in apprenticeships that develop business, legal and professional skills.

The head of the LSC at Freshfields, Olivia Balson, said: “We want to encourage wider access to law and possibilities for progression for the very best talents. These apprenticeships offer a flexible route for talented students to join the legal profession and opportunities to those already in the firm to nurture these talents.”

Balson has headed up the LSC in Manchester since 2015, having previously been a corporate senior associate in the firm’s London office.

The new scheme comes after Freshfields ramped up its presence in Manchester in 2015, starting an office in Arndale House. The magic circle firm was one of many law firms that wanted to cut costs by setting up offices in cheaper locations outside of London.

Freshfields has a paralegal hub in the city, in addition to back-office staff covering a range of functions including HR, marketing, IT document services and in-house legal.

The firm will have capacity for up to 700 employees once it moves to its new 80,000sqft premises in One New Bailey in 2017.

Addleshaw Goddard, which has a low cost hub in Manchester, also provides its paralegals with apprenticeship schemes, while other firms such as Mayer Brown and Withers are offering apprentices the chance to qualify as solicitors at their firms.