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June 25

Flex Trainee: The easy way for boutique firms to grow their own talent

Flex News

Louise Anderson

Louise Anderson

Flex Trainee on the Flex ribbon background

After three years of growth, Flex Legal’s award-winning Flex Trainee scheme is now launching in the boutique law firm space. Flex Trainee is a unique social mobility scheme, designed to empower legal teams to take on trainees and grow their own talent in-house where they may not previously have had the resources or processes in place to do so.

Since its launch into some of the UK’s top in-house legal teams (The Crown Estate, Tesco, Vodafone, and more), Flex Trainee has seen 60+ talented young individuals from historically under-represented backgrounds enter organisations as SQE trainees. Taking a Flex Trainee has allowed organisations to demonstrate their ESG commitments, whilst also joining a new network of like-minded partner organisations.

After three years of helping aspiring lawyers thrive in an in-house environment, Flex Trainee is now opening up to boutique law firms. Given the scale and resources of this kind of firm, the Flex Trainee model is a perfect fit. Flex Legal employs the trainee and seconds them into the firm’s team, taking away the burden of admin and helping the trainee through their academic and professional journey. Trainees get a great learning experience, the firm gets a junior resource, has the opportunity to develop their own talent, and gets to build a network with other legal teams (both in-house and boutique) in their trainee’s cohort.

How are Flex Trainees selected?

The Flex Trainee process begins well before placement commences. Firstly, Flex Legal works with charities such as STRIVE and the Social Mobility Business Partnership to find the best socially mobile candidates. After an initial application screening, the candidates take part in interviews and assessment centres to find the very best aspiring lawyers to enter the next Flex Trainee cohort. Each year, two cohorts of Flex Trainees train together and meet regularly. This gives the trainees a chance to build a supportive peer network to rely on throughout their training.

Successful candidates are then carefully matched with potential hosts, and begin a comprehensive interview process to make sure of a great fit. Some Flex Trainees will have prior experience, and some will be fresh graduates – the firms can conduct their own vetting to find the perfect match.

The Flex Trainees will then undergo our comprehensive “Readiness Programme” before joining their new team. The Readiness Programme is entirely bespoke, equipping trainees with knowledge they need to thrive in a law firm environment including:

● How their specific organisation and practice area works.

● Practical legal skills including contract drafting, review, and negotiation.

● Core soft skills including presenting, communicating confidently, and active listening.

What happens during placement?

When all of this is done the trainees join their new teams, ready to hit them ground running and add value. Flex Trainees are employed by Flex Legal, so we handle their employment admin; pay, holiday, PAYE, etc. All the host firms need to do is give them the work that allows them to gain the qualifying experience they need. We appoint a trained mentor to every trainee, who holds supportive virtual meetings with them throughout the scheme. These meetings are a good opportunity for us to offer guidance, ensuring that they get the most from their opportunity. We also hold monthly meetings with their supervising solicitors to gather feedback and identify additional training requirements.

Alongside working in their new role, Flex Trainees prepare for their Solicitors Qualifying Exams: the SQE1 and SQE2. We arrange their exams and deliver training with BARBRI, who are industry leaders in SQE preparation courses. To qualify under the SQE, trainees must pass both exams and gain two years of legal work experience. Of course, the best parts of the Flex Trainee calendar are our regular client events, where we invite our partner organisations to meet and network. This allows them to discuss the scheme and share experiences with other forward-looking solicitors from in-house and boutique teams.

What happens when the placement has finished?

When the minimum 12 months has been completed, the host organisation can choose for their trainee to stay and continue their development for another year, or we can find a placement for them elsewhere.

Similarly, when a Flex Trainee qualifies there is no obligation to take them on permanently - we can always try to find an NQ role for them elsewhere. Or they can, of course, join the team as a newly qualified solicitor who already understands their firm’s culture, team, and practice.

How do I get involved?

Now is an exciting time for Flex Trainee, with the scheme finally expanding to boutique law firms for the first time. If you’re interested in learning more about others’ experiences with the scheme, you can watch a video case study here.

Otherwise, you can contact us by clicking the button below.