Exclusive: Broadcasting giant teams up with ULaw to offer earn-while-you-learn route to solicitor qualification

BBC’s Broadcasting House – Credit Wikicommons (Edwardx)

The BBC has launched an apprenticeship programme that sees aspiring lawyers juggle on the job legal training with study for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

Legal Cheek can reveal the new pathway enables apprentices to combine studying for the SQE at The University of Law with two years qualifying work experience (QWE) across four seats in the BBC’s legal team in London. There may also be an opportunity for participants to complete a secondment at a “leading firm” during the programme.

It takes two years to qualify and is open to graduates who have completed a law degree or a non-law degree plus the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), but who have not undertaken the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The BBC is initially looking to recruit four apprentices on a salary of £28,000 in year one, and £32,000 from January 2023 until the end of the apprenticeship.

The BBC’s apprenticeship route will replace its traditional training contract programme which saw wannabe lawyers self-fund the LPC.

Successful applicants will complete an induction in February 2022 and will then join ULaw on block release, until autumn 2022. They will then begin their QWE within the BBC’s legal team, which will conclude in October 2024. At this point, and subject to meeting the character and suitability requirements set out by the regulator, apprentices will become fully-qualified solicitors.

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The BBC say it’s unable to help cover the costs of any academic pre-requisites but will fund SQE prep through its apprenticeship levy. The levy was introduced in 2017 and is payable by all businesses with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million (0.5% of their total pay bill). However, businesses can recoup this cash providing they spend it on apprenticeship-level training.

The BBC isn’t the first business to re-think its training programme following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and ahead of the SQE’s rollout this September.

Earlier this year Legal Cheek reported that law firm Keoghs had launched an SQE apprenticeship alongside its more established training contract programme, while DWF went one step further and ditched its TC set-up in favour of a super-exam friendly apprenticeship. Elsewhere, Kennedys has created an apprenticeship programme in conjunction with BPP Law School.