A new training programme offering a more flexible route to qualifying as a solicitor has been launched by a leading legal firm.

Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, which operates across Cumbria and Northumberland, say the new scheme will provide more opportunities by enabling recruits to work while they study.

The training programme offers law graduates the chance to work part-time as a paralegal for Cartmell Shepherd while studying for their Law Practice Course (LPC) professional qualification, gaining valuable, on-the-job experience.

It also allows graduates to specialise in their chosen field from the outset, instead of having to work across different departments as part of their qualification.

Peter Stafford, Managing Director of Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, said the programme was designed to nurture talent and secure the next generation of solicitors.

He said: “As demand for our services continues to grow, we are relaunching our training programme to offer exciting opportunities to join us and work alongside some of the best solicitors in the sector.

“Our training programme is designed to attract the highest calibre of legal graduates who are looking to establish a career within our specialist agriculture, business services and dispute resolution teams, with a commitment to remaining in Cumbria and the Haltwhistle and Hexham areas of Northumberland, where we are based.

“We have a flexible, forward-thinking approach towards our team which enables people to lead successful, fulfilling careers in a supportive environment.”

Katherine Pretswell-Walker, who is part of the Agriculture and Estates department which is ranked as one of the best in the country, is one of several directors at the firm who began her career at Cartmell Shepherd.

She said: “Cartmell Shepherd has been immensely supportive to me throughout my career, from joining as a trainee in 2006 to being made a director of the firm last year.

“I first worked at the firm during my summer break from university in an admin role and even then I knew it was somewhere I wanted to pursue my career.

“Since joining Cartmell Shepherd, I have had periods when I have chosen to take a step back from my role, such as two nine-month spells on maternity leave and subsequently part-time working, but it was in the knowledge that my career would always continue to develop and progress with the firm.”

Traditionally, would-be solicitors in England and Wales must complete a law degree and a one-year Law Practice Course (LPC) before securing a two-year training contract to gain the experience required to qualify.

A new qualification was introduced last year, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) which will eventually replace the LPC route to practice.

Under the training programme with Cartmell Shepherd, law graduates would complete the LPC part-time with the firm, with a contribution made towards the cost by the company. The trainee would then be put forward for their final SQE qualification, with their time working at the firm counting towards their qualifying period.

Peter, who has been at the forefront of implementing changes nationally as part of his role as chairman of the UK200 Lawyers Group, said the new pathway to qualification would provide more opportunities for people to enter the legal profession.

He said: “The SQE route makes it easier for graduates to qualify by offering a more flexible approach for both trainees and their employers through both reducing the burden of cost, and allowing solicitors to specialise earlier.

“It’s vital that we invest in the future by providing these excellent opportunities.”

Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors has six offices at Rosehill Carlisle, Carlisle city centre, Brampton, Penrith, Cockermouth and Haltwhistle, and works with clients across Cumbria, Northumberland and nationally. The firm’s full range of legal services is available from all of its offices, delivered by its team of more than 40 solicitors.

If you are a law graduate who has finished or due to finish their degree and are interested in finding out more about the training scheme, contact