September 15, 2023
Luke Naveira Commences a Solicitor Apprenticeship to Qualify as a Solicitor
Hill Twine Solicitors is absolutely delighted to announce that Zara Keu is our first ever Solicitor Apprentice! In this article, you will learn more about Zara Keu and Hill Twine's approach to investing in the careers of our future Criminal Defence lawyers.
Hill Twine Solicitors is absolutely delighted to announce that Zara Keu is our first ever Solicitor Apprentice! She is commencing her Solicitor Apprenticeship training with BPP this month (January 2023) and will sit both SQE exams in 2025. Alongside her studies, she will work full time at Hill Twine Solicitors, building the skills and experience necessary to qualify as a solicitor.
Zara joined Hill Twine Solicitors & Barristers in September 2022, becoming a member of our Paralegal Team. When interviewing Zara we learned of her desire to qualify as a solicitor and work within Criminal Defence. She has been awarded a First Class Law Degree and a Masters’ Degree in International Human Rights Law. However, the prohibitive costs involved in self-funding the Legal Practice Course were an obstacle in her path and so she set about gaining experience within the Criminal Justice System whilst devising a plan to qualify. Zara joined Hill Twine Solicitors from His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.
Anyone working within a Legal Aid Criminal Defence law firm knows just how difficult it is to recruit people who are interested in developing a career within Criminal Defence, particularly as a solicitor undertaking publicly-funded work. The well-publicised issues relating to the demanding nature of the work, cuts to criminal legal aid funding, and the concordant impact on salaries in comparison to other areas of law is having a significant impact on recruitment (to put it mildly). The situation has been described as a ‘looming crisis‘ and the Law Society is currently threatening judicial review in relation to the Lord Chancellor’s decision not to increase the remuneration for criminal legal aid work. It is an increasingly rare occurrence for someone to express a keen and genuine interest in qualifying as a Criminal solicitor.
At Hill Twine Solicitors we feel very strongly about giving people the opportunity to develop a career within Criminal law. Qualifying as a lawyer is not an easy task. The academic requirements are rigorous, rightly so. Beyond that, finding opportunities and gaining experience to develop important skills and interests to stand out to potential employers at the job application stage can be extremely difficulty, especially for those who are juggling studies/caring responsibilities/employment etc.
The other obstacle which cannot be ignored is the cost of the vocational training, whether that be the old Legal Practice Course or the newly introduced SQE route. Although the SQE route was introduced to make qualifying as a solicitor more accessible to more people, the costs of self-funded training courses are eye-watering (as at the date of this article, the cost of BPP’s ‘Complete SQE Training’ is £11,500 – which doesn’t include the SQE 1 and 2 assessment fees – and the costs of a similar course at the University of Law range between £12,300 and £16,950, dependant on the course location). For people who do not have that sort of money accessible to them, the costs are prohibitive.
Here at Hill Twine Solicitors, we want to play our part in opening up the profession to those who have a strong desire to work in Criminal Defence and the aptitude to do so, but who are not in a position to self-fund their qualification and/or attract the attention of the larger national law firms. We are delighted to be in a position to offer the opportunity to qualify as a solicitor through the apprentice route to Zara Keu, and others who will follow her in the future. Through our Apprenticeship Scheme, Zara’s qualification is fully-funded and she is gaining the requisite qualifying work experience whilst receiving a full-time salary. Upon successful completion of the SQE in 2025, she will be Admitted to the Roll and will continue employment with us a newly-qualified solicitor. We very much look forward to offering similar opportunities in time to our lawyers of the future!
If you have any questions or need advice