Ten apprentices have been hired by big city law firm Addleshaw Goddard.
The youngsters will earn £12,000 a year and study for an NVQ Level Three Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services.
After 18 months there will be an option to apply for a paralegal role with the firm.
Bosses at Addleshaw Goddard, housed at Barbirolli Square in Manchester, said the appointments were bold.
Andrew Chamberlain, head of client delivery, below, said work is being allocated in a new way and Addleshaw has set a target of delivering 10 per cent of everything they do through the apprentice scheme by 2014.
He said: “This scheme is different and it is also an opportunity to develop the economy.
“Law is very traditional, elitist and is difficult to get into.
“There are a lot of unemployed law graduates at the moment.
“Our thinking was there was plenty of work that could be done by non-graduates which is where the apprenticeship idea came from.
“We have recruited 10 this year and we hope to do the same next year, if not recruit more.”
The 50-year-old added: “It’s fascinating for me to talk to these young people because others may have gone through the traditional university route, took on a big debt and struggled to get a job but they have decided not to.
“It will take time, probably nine years, as opposed to seven to become a solicitor, but the apprentices can get all the qualifications through this route.”
Marcus Lunt and Jamie-Lee Harris both won a place on the scheme following a rigorous application process.
Marcus, 19, and from Liverpool, said: “I got four A levels and applied to study an environmental science degree but by the time I got my results I decided I wanted an apprenticeship. I looked for insurance and accounting roles before eventually finding this one.
“I’m so chuffed to have got in. I will probably avoid a £60,000 debt.”
Jamie-Lee, 19, will travel to Manchester from Heswall, Wirral, each day.
She said: “Getting the job all happened so quickly. Within a week I went from applying for the apprenticeship to having a phone interview and having a job.
“I’m excited. I want to work my way up now. I wanted an income not university and luckily it’s what I’ve got.”
The other apprentices taken on are Gabriella Knowles, 18, from Tameside, Jessica Brown, 18, of Bolton, Rachel Leech, 18, of Heywood, Jodie Keenan, 19, from Wythenshawe, Connor McKinney, 19, of Eccles, Bethany Bilton, 20, from Oldham, and Eleanor Godwin, 21, from Cheshire.
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