A legal assistant at challenger law firm gunnercooke has become one of the first in the country to qualify through the alternative method ‘equivalent means’. Sarah Bennett qualified this month, having used evidence from her work to date to show she had achieved the same standards as someone qualifying through the traditional training route.
Equivalent Means enables the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority to grant an exemption from all or part of the traditional “training contract route” through the recognition of other assessed learning and work based learning.
Sarah’s qualification comes following 2 years working as a paralegal, shadowing a number of gunnercooke’s senior partners on a wide range of corporate, commercial and real estate matters.
With competition for training contracts tougher than ever before, the new way of qualifying brings a welcome flexibility to people who have completed an LPC and gained significant experience working in a law firm.
Sarah said: “I’m excited to have qualified, especially through a route that isn’t yet well used or documented. gunnercooke has a precedent for innovation and new ways of working, so they were very supportive through the application process.”
“I would recommend equivalent means to other paralegals and legal assistants who have undertaken a period of relevant work-based learning. It means that the work they are doing now and the experience they have already doesn’t need to be duplicated should they be ‘waiting in the wings’ for a training contract.
“I’m fortunate to have worked with and been trained by some of the most talented lawyers in the country. It has been highly beneficial to my development.”
Anna Beaumont, CEO at gunnercooke said: “It was fantastic to find out that Sarah’s hard work at our firm would contribute towards her qualifying. We were delighted to support her. Sarah will make a fantastic solicitor and we wish her all the very best now she has qualified.”
Due to her ambition, self-motivation and strong work ethic, Sarah will enter in to gunnerbloom, gunnercooke’s sister firm for junior lawyers, which was launched earlier this year. gunnerbloom lawyers do not specialise for their first few years of qualification and are encouraged to seek placements in businesses from the outset, which allows them to continue developing entrepreneurial skills alongside technical expertise.