PLANS for a pioneering Learning Academy, that will revolutionise legal training and widen opportunities for a career in law, have been unveiled by The Co-operative Legal Services and Manchester Metropolitan University.
The partnership will embrace the changes currently taking place in the legal profession, which saw The Co-operative Legal Services become the first major high street brand to be granted an Alternative Business Structure licence last year enabling it to offer consumers a full range of legal services.
Manchester Law School, part of MMU, will work alongside The Co-operative Legal Services to design and create a new Learning Academy to be launched in September, which will offer employees in all career paths the opportunity to progress and develop skills and build knowledge.
The learning will be linked to The Co-operative’s values, providing opportunity for employees to be uniquely well placed to deliver the highest standards of customer service.
Law and business academics from MMU will introduce new structured development pathways for new recruits and existing Co-operative Legal Services employees, right up to senior management level.
Bespoke training materials will be tailored for each role, incorporating The Co-operative’s existing apprenticeship and graduate schemes and Manchester Law School’s post graduate programmes.
With the legal sector currently experiencing unprecedented change, which has impacted on traditional recruitment and graduate career paths, coupled with spiraling university education costs; the new Learning Academy will have a positive, socially inclusive impact by broadening routes in to legal careers.
In addition to the traditional route in to a legal career, it will offer a vocational route which will attract employees from a wider range of social backgrounds and provide career mobility for employees at all levels.
Gill Higgins, Head of HR at The Co-operative Legal Services, said: "Our new partnership with MMU will allow us to provide a unique learning and development programme for our employees, whilst also supporting the business in developing a talent pipeline. This will ensure that each and every career path is valued and that development and qualification ambitions can be met.
"We believe that this partnership will help us to ensure that we have the right skills, knowledge and experience within our business to achieve our goal of making the law as accessible and unintimidating as possible.
"We are delighted to be working in partnership with MMU, who are supporting us in making the Learning Academy right for us as a Co-operative and as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licence holder."
Miceál Barden, Head of Manchester Law School, said: “This represents a great opportunity for Manchester Law School to engage with the changing world of legal services and ensure the legal education we provide reflects the profound changes happening in the legal world today. We are delighted to be in partnership with The Co-operative Legal Services, helping to make the law accessible for others and helping to create new career paths into it.”
MMU Vice Chancellor John Brooks said: “Co-operative Legal Services face an exciting challenge to deliver high quality training and management support against a background of significant change within the legal market.
“I believe MMU is the right partner to deliver the training and management support while truly understanding the implications of the wider Co-operative Group’s values and the unique challenges the legal sector faces.”
The Learning Academy will encompass all learning and development activities and will be open to Co-operative Legal Services staff across the UK with much of the new resources available online.
The Co-operative Legal Services Learning Academy will be launched in September 2013 with an anticipated 200 employees aligned to the new development pathways. The number of places will be expanded as the scheme develops to support the growth of the business.