Drawing on my own experience, particularly in developing trainees, I hope this short article will offer guidance to fellow training professionals on how contemporary law firms can adapt and ultimately thrive in this new environment.

A new work culture

The most significant change over the past decade has been the shift in working culture. Traditionally, trainees were expected to work beyond their contracted hours, often thrown into complex tasks with little guidance or given menial tasks that no one else wanted to do.

Recently, and certainly from my experience, there is now a greater understanding that to develop and get the most out of trainees, there needs to be positive engagement between the trainee and their supervisor.

To ensure this happens, and to avoid the pitfalls of the past, we are seeing more firms adopt structured training programmes with clear expectations of both trainees and supervisors. This approach encourages consistency across the board, and makes certain trainees are working at the appropriate level and have the support and skills required to succeed.

As an industry, we need to acknowledge and respect the different perspectives that come with the next generation of lawyers, especially the emphasis on work-life balance and the importance of setting boundaries around working hours.

There is no doubt that structured training and shared expectations help this cause, but there will need to be greater focus, as well as training, on being efficient during those hours to continue meeting client expectations and deadlines.

Attracting the next generation

The next generation lawyer has more pathways into starting a career in law, and there are also more firms wanting to attract them. This is facilitated by the easing of geographic restrictions thanks to hybrid working and new technology.

Initiatives like digital interviews, flexible working and graduate programmes will all help to set you apart from the competition. We may also see firms place greater emphasis on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion to appeal to a generation which has strong values and a sense of fairness – something we can all learn from.

The shift to the SQE as the LPC is phased out

This could well be the biggest change to training the next generation of lawyers that we will see. Without the additional layer of practical training that the legal practice course provides, foundation courses like in-house graduate schemes will prove increasingly useful.

At Express Solicitors, we have introduced our own graduate scheme, a fully paid five-week training course designed to help aspiring legal professionals take their first steps and prepare them for working as a litigation assistant. No prior legal experience is required – we seek people with the right attitude and willingness to learn.

On the programme, we go back to basics on the theory and then apply it to all aspects of litigation, so the graduates have a full understanding of the process and keep the bigger picture of the case in their minds.

We recruit around 100 graduates a year, across four schemes, working with 27 trainees at any one time. On completion, we have routes for progression, leading to a fully funded Solicitors Qualifying Exam programme.

Changing training methods

Teaching methods in schools, colleges and universities have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. Trainees, especially Gen Z, entering law firms expect and are accustomed to training methods that are far more engaging than a handful of papers. The emphasis is now on interaction, variety and catering to the individual.

This is supported by feedback we have received from our graduates, who are wanting more interactive training. We have adopted a blended learning approach that includes lectures, workshops, Teams sessions, webinars, simulators and Slido quizzes.

It’s also important to mention that we have tailored our training to accommodate a variety of learning needs, addressing all aspects of disability and neurodiversity. We also provide software to assist with visual impairments and dyslexia.

Creating a learning environment

There is now an acknowledgment that there is a strong business case for high-quality training in-house and that requires a significant investment of resources. Ever more, firms are dedicating training spaces and employing legal trainers whose sole purpose is to train and develop talent.

Our legal trainers collectively have over 100 years of experience, with three out of four having trained and qualified at the firm. It’s fair to say they intrinsically understand our systems, policies and culture. We have also just moved into a new office space which has a ‘campus-like’ feel to foster collaboration and unity, and includes a dedicated training suite.


It’s clear that firms need to modernise and invest in their training and recruitment strategies to keep pace with industry changes. Despite much work still to be done, supportive and inclusive training programmes that align with the new generation’s values of work-life balance are becoming the norm.

Firms must also address the shift from the LPC to the SQE and fill the practical training gap left behind. Failure to adjust will make recruitment more difficult and cause firms to fall behind the competition.