Regulation & Government

Law Society launches initiative to introduce part-time training

Project Rise is aiming for part-time training to be implemented across the profession to benefit people from diverse backgrounds.

The Law Society of England and Wales’ Lawyers with Disabilities Division (LDD) has announced a cross-firm scheme, ‘Project Rise’, seeking to encourage more part-time qualifying opportunities to be offered in the legal sector.

Law firms Eversheds Sutherland and Osborne Clarke are participating in the project and have committed to offering all successful candidates the opportunity to train on a part-time basis, starting from September 2024.

Project Rise is aiming for part-time training to be implemented across the profession, either for training contracts or for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)

Allison MacQuire, international head of recruitment, emerging talent and diversity and inclusion at Eversheds Sutherland, said the programme will help those who may need agility in their working week, including those with a disability, parents or carers. 

She said it will allow the firm to “cast a wider net” when recruiting and it will welcome a “broader and more diverse range of perspectives and backgrounds” into its talent pipeline.

The initiative has reportedly been created in response to research by Cardiff Business School and the LDD, which found evidence that disability has been “largely overlooked” when it comes to improving diversity and inclusion in the solicitors’ profession.

However, the Law Society said the project is not “exclusively designed” to benefit disabled trainees as there are “many people from diverse backgrounds who would benefit from having the option of completing their training contract part-time”.

Stephanie Boyce, Law Society of England and Wales president, said: “Project Rise is striving to make qualifying as a solicitor more inclusive. We must take into account the lives of aspiring solicitors, as they could benefit from undertaking training on a part-time basis.

“In turn, this could see the profession opening its doors to candidates from other backgrounds, who may previously have faced barriers to entry and progression.”

Alexandra Gower, partner and training principal at Osborne Clarke said: “When it comes to our working lives, we know one-size-fits-all isn’t realistic. That’s why it’s so important that we recognise the need for flexibility and can accommodate a variety of working patterns. Doing this will increase the pool of talent available to our sector.”

MacQuire added: “Eversheds Sutherland is proud to be amongst the first two law firms to both commit to, and start implementing, Project Rise, having offered our summer vacation students the opportunity for part-time training.”

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