Simmons & Simmons has asked its September 2009 trainees to defer for a year - and will pay all their fees and £15,000 in maintenance if they take a bespoke MBA.

The firm has already asked its March 2009 joiners to defer. Now Nick Benwell, the firm's grad rec partner, has sent the following email to those who were due to start in September:


Dear all, 

As I am sure you are aware, current market conditions mean that law 
firms have been looking at all aspects of the way they do business, and 
have been taking steps to align their resources with envisaged business 
levels. To that end, many City firms have asked their September 2009 
trainee intakes to defer for a year - as we have done with our March 
2009 intake. 

Examining our future business needs has led us to bring forward an 
initiative that we had been planning as part of our learning and 
development strategy which was created in 2007. We are proud to 
announce the launch of the first ever dedicated legal MBA, which is 
exclusive to the firm. The course will run for 12 months and will be 
provided through BPP's new Business School, based in the City. This is a 
core element of our strategy to position ourselves as a law firm of the 
future: a firm whose lawyers have a sound understanding of business and 
the commercial drivers of their clients in addition to being technical 
experts in their field. 

While the course is optional, we strongly recommend that you take it as 
we believe that it will prove very beneficial to your career development 
and that it demonstrates a major commitment to investing in our people. 

With kind regards 





Students are going to a workshop in a couple of weeks to find out more about the course. The MBA is exclusive to Simmons & Simmons for its first year, but will then be open to the wider market.

On the upside, £15k is by some margin the highest figure that any firm has offered its deferring trainees and  this course should be appreciably more useful than bumming around South America for a year. On the downside, the prospect of spending yet another year in a classroom at BPP may not appeal to all. And it remains to be seen how marketable an unrecognised MBA will be given that graduates of Harvard Business School are currently resorting to flipping burgers...

Benwell told RollOnFriday that he hoped that all future trainees would undertake the course, which should significantly improve their preparedness for practice. He added that Simmons & Simmons was working with BPP to get the course officially recognised.

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