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Could a lawyer ever win the apprentice?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 27/10/15

The newest series of the Apprentice – a programme where entrepreneurs compete for a huge £250,000 of funding from British business tycoon Alan Sugar – recently hit TV screens in the UK. Historically, the legal sector has often featured in the form of contestants from a legal background or entrepreneurial companies in the sector looking for investment.

One such example was “The Link App” which promised to connect lawyers in a “revolutionary” way to their clients. Yet our own data has revealed that Sugar’s popularity with lawyers is waning. In 2011, 25% of lawyers that we surveyed said that they would quit their job to work for Sugar. Yet the same survey taken this year came up with a much lower result – only 18%. So what is going wrong?

Well, firstly, the nature of the prize itself has changed in recent years. Now, winners look forward to a £250,000 investment in their business – which they will share at a 50% stake with Sugar – whereas older series offered a bountiful £100,000/annum job as an “apprentice”.
As Clare Butler, global managing director here at Laurence Simons, explains: “Lawyers realise the odds are stacked against them to get any real value out of participation in the show. In the meantime they could undermine their integrity by doing a pterodactyl impression in front of an audience of millions – as demonstrated by the 2008 winner, Lee McQueen."

And aside from this, a previous candidate from the legal sector, Lauren Riley, claimed that Lord Sugar made it very clear that in his opinion, lawyers did not possess business minds. In fact, she even told the Evening Standard that, “Lord Sugar did take every opportunity to highlight that [she] was a lawyer and it’s well-documented that he doesn’t like them.” So it seems the odds are stacked against you in this instance, but is Lord Sugar right or should legal minds have a seat at the business table?