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Project Rise – a part-time training initiative

Project Rise – a part-time training initiative

Project Rise is a cross-firm enterprise initiated by the Law Society’s Disabled Solicitors Network (DSN), that seeks to encourage more part-time training opportunities to be offered in the legal sector.

 

This initiative was created as a direct result of research by Cardiff Business School and the DSN, which found clear evidence that disability has been largely overlooked when it comes to improving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the solicitors’ profession.

The project – supported by Aspiring Solicitors – is not exclusively designed to benefit disabled trainees. There are many people from diverse backgrounds who would benefit from having the option of completing their training contract part-time, including those with caring responsibilities.

The project started in 2021 and coincided with the launch of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). The requirements of the SQE are much more flexible than the old system of training contracts.

The SQE could serve as inspiration for the profession to change how it trains its candidates, perhaps offering part-time, full-time, flexible and hybrid qualifying work experience to its junior employees as standard.

The following firms now offer part-time training as a matter of course:

  • Bates Wells
  • Browne Jacobson
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Freeths
  • Osborne Clarke

Interested firms meet regularly to discuss the motivations and challenges of providing part-time training. There is no pressure to offer part-time training until the firm is ready, but they can still participate in discussions.

Firms do not have to offer a minimum number of places. They are also not required to offer part-time training in any particular way – it covers training contracts, SQE qualifying work experience, graduate apprenticeships or however the organisation recruits.

SRA definitions

The SRA defines “full time” as working 32 hours a week over less than five days. This would allow a candidate, who is able to work longer hours in under five days, to qualify in two years: the minimum required period of training.

For Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) under the SQE, the SRA says it is for the firm to determine what the ‘full time equivalent’ is for the necessary two years QWE.

 

Read original article: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/lawyers-with-disabilities/project-rise