If you are interested in the world of law, but find that you don’t thrive in structured education (and you are keen to avoid the student loan debt), an apprenticeship could be the perfect option for you. If you haven’t looked into the apprenticeship route, you may be under the impression that apprenticeships are only available for certain trades and industries. However, there is an apprenticeship for nearly everything you can imagine - including the challenging world of law!
So what apprenticeships are out there?
There are a range of different apprenticeships on offer in the law field. These apprenticeships are crafted to help you work towards one of three broad career levels; legal administration/support, paralegal or solicitor. If you know you would love to pursue a career in law, but the idea of a 3 year degree course and not gaining experience alongside your studies doesn’t appeal, an apprenticeship could be the best fit for you We have put together a selection of the most common apprenticeships on offer, to give you a better understanding of how to progress through your law career via apprenticeships.
If you are wishing to just start out in your legal career, and not entirely sure if you wish to work towards being a paralegal or solicitor straight away, the Legal Secretary Diploma might be the best option for you. With this diploma, you will be able to specialise in administrative or secretarial support in the legal and business environment. You will be covering a range of topics from proofreading and working in the legal environment to legal audio and text processing. This diploma is great if you are looking to study law with no prior experience, or you are wishing to improve on your legal secretarial skills. Upon completion, you can progress onto a Level 3 Diploma for Legal Secretaries, or the Paralegal Apprenticeship.
A Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship is a great route into the world of law, providing you with the valuable experience and knowledge needed to become a successful paralegal. To apply for this apprenticeship, you will need a minimum of 3 A-Levels (96 UCAS points) and 5 GCSEs at a grade C or above including English and Mathematics. This 24 month apprenticeship will be split into 3 sections: Law and Legal Practice, Legal Research and Client Care. With a great starting salary of £18,000 (£20,000 for those in London) plus a range of employee benefits, this is a great opportunity to ease yourself into the field of law. Upon completion, you will have a Level 3 CILEx Paralegal qualification, which means you will be a fully qualified paralegal! After you are all done, you can start working as a paralegal straight away in your preferred area of law, or you can use this qualification to continue your studies and progress towards a Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship or a Solicitor Apprenticeship.
The Level 6 Chartered Legal Apprenticeship is aimed at those who have prior experience in the field of law. Apprentices need to have either completed a law degree, a law conversion course or a Level 3 professional diploma in Law and Practice (e.g. the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship). Your Level 6 diploma will consist of 6 subjects including legal practice and professional skills units. This is not an option for the faint-hearted as, in addition to your 2 years of academic studies to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive, apprentices are required to also complete practical work experience for 3 years. This work experience can either be in a firm or in-house under the supervision of senior chartered legal executives, solicitors or barristers. Overall this apprenticeship can take 5 years to complete, however this can be reduced depending on prior experience.
As with most apprenticeships, the main appeal is to gain experience and earn while you are studying. As a result, apprentices can complete 2 years of work experience either before, alongside or after their studies, which allows for greater flexibility. One requirement, however, is that your final year of work experience must be completed after achieving your academic qualifications. Upon completion of your apprenticeship, you will be a fully qualified Chartered Legal Executive and an authorised lawyer. A Chartered Legal Executive often specialises in an area of law while carrying out reserved legal work alongside solicitors or CILEx Practitioners. Your legal work can vary from personal injury and probate to conveyancing and criminal law. While salaries can vary across firms (and can vary depending on your experience level), a CILEx student earns roughly between £15,000 and £28,000, and this can rise up to £38,000.
Perhaps when you think about studying law, your immediate thought is becoming a solicitor. The Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship allows you to gain experience in legal writing and case analysis. Entry requirements are either 3 A Levels at grade C or above & 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above including Mathematics and English. Alternatively, a Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship can be used as an alternative to A Levels. Working as a solicitor often focuses on problem solving within the framework of the legal system. Learning on the job will help you to handle complex, confidential and sensitive information, draft client documents and carry out research on behalf of your clients. This apprenticeship is 72 months long (or just over 6 years) and you will be covering an extensive range of topics. Your learning will be split into 3 topics: Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours. Knowledge topics can include: the English Legal System, the Law of Tort, the Law of Trusts, Property Law & Practice, Wills & the Administration of Estates, Criminal Law, Public Law and Contract Law - plus many more! The Skills and Behaviours you will develop include: Legal Research, Legal Writing, Client Interviewing & Attendance Note Writing and Advocacy.
You will have to complete a mandatory on-programme assessment and End Point assessment by an external organization on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Not only do you have to pass all of these assessments, you will also have to satisfy the SRA’s “Character and Suitability” test to be admitted as a solicitor. But, after 72 long months and a bucket load of hard work, you will be fully qualified as a solicitor!