Apprenticeships allow law firms to support talented young people with a desire to begin their career in law.

If you want to pursue a legal career but the university route isn’t for you, a legal apprenticeship is a fantastic alternative.

Legal apprenticeships are routes into the legal profession that involve working and studying concurrently. They have been developed by a high profile panel of law firms.

It is possible to progress from one apprenticeship onto the next. So, for example, following a paralegal apprenticeship, you could progress onto the chartered legal executive or solicitor apprenticeship.

Key Facts

You can complete a Solicitor Apprenticeship, which is a six-year, Level 7 programme aimed at A-level graduates, paralegals and chartered legal executives.

You could also complete a Paralegal Apprenticeship, which is a two-year, Level 3 programme. You’ll get an introduction to law and practice, legal research and client care skills.

Many firms also offer apprenticeships within their business service teams, such as Marketing and IT.

Commonly asked questions from law firms

Deciding to offer apprenticeships at your firm can raise a number of questions. Or, perhaps you already offer them but have questions about the apprenticeship levy.

We have included here some of the most commonly asked questions together with some useful information on training providers and other relevant organisations.

1. What is a legal apprentice?

A legal apprentice is an employee of the law firm, employed under an apprenticeship agreement. During the apprenticeship agreement, the apprentice spends time in “on the job” training at the law firm alongside spending time in “off the job training”, provided by a third party training provider. At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice receives a qualification and (like a trainee) can remain with the law firm or move elsewhere.

2. Why consider a legal apprenticeship scheme?

Legal apprenticeships support law firms to widen access to the legal profession by creating opportunities for people to gain experience and begin careers in law where that might otherwise be out of reach. Although apprentices are often school leavers who, for whatever reason, do not want (or are unable) to go to university, there is no requirement for an apprentice to be a school leaver.

Apprentices may also be people changing career or returning to work after a career break. An apprentice can be any age!

PRIME members that have introduced apprenticeship programmes have found they have attracted applications from a more diverse range of candidates when compared with applications for paralegal roles or training contracts.

3. What types of legal apprenticeships are there?

There are a number of different types of legal apprenticeships and each of those has a different apprenticeship “level”, indicating the level of qualification. The most common legal apprenticeships are:

• Paralegal Apprenticeship (Advanced – Level 3)
A Paralegal Apprenticeship is usually 2 years long and the “off the job” training generally includes a study of law and practice, legal research and client care. At the end of the two years, the paralegal will have a qualification (the type of qualification will depend on the training provider). Many Paralegal Apprentices remain employed with the law firm as a paralegal at the end of their apprenticeship, but other will look to progress their studies and their career (including looking qualify as a solicitor).

• Solicitor Apprenticeship (Degree – Level 7)
A Solicitor Apprenticeship is usually 6 years long and covers the areas of study that are needed to qualify as a solicitor through alternative routes. At the end of the apprenticeship, the Solicitor Apprentice will be a qualified solicitor (just like a trainee who has completed their training contract). A Solicitor Apprentice will generally have completed A-levels before starting their apprenticeship. Just like a trainee, a solicitor apprentice may remain with the law firm when they qualify or pursue a career elsewhere.

It is possible to recruit Paralegal Apprentices with a view to giving those that meet a law firm’s qualifying requirements the opportunity to continue to progress their career towards qualification as a solicitor.

4. Can my firm set their own entry requirements?

Yes, and it is usual to do so where a legal apprentice is hired directly by the law firm. There may also be qualification requirements set by the training provider. As with any recruitment, it is important that the recruitment process of fair, transparent and free from discrimination.

It is also possible to partner with third party organisations who source apprentices and place them in law firms. In this case, the law firm will not generally set the entry requirements (those will be determined by the third party provider). Although there will generally be a cost to the law firm, these third party arrangements can provide an apprentice with additional ongoing support from the third party organisation and a network of peer support. This sort of support is used most commonly for Paralegal Apprenticeships.

5. Can we transfer our apprenticeship levy?

Large employers that pay the apprenticeship levy can choose to transfer up to 25% of their levy funds each year to other businesses, to pay for their apprenticeship training and assessment.

Support transferring the apprenticeship levy
• Transferring your apprenticeship levy to another business – GOV.UK
Reskilling the Recovery — London Progression Collaboration

 

Commonly asked questions from students

Are you unsure about whether to do a legal apprenticeship or attend university? Higher education might seem like the obvious choice, but the legal apprenticeship route is becoming more and more common. Choosing which route is right for you is a big decision.

We have included here some of the most commonly asked questions to help you with this choice.

Search for the Work Experience

1. What is a legal apprentice?

A legal apprentice is an employee of the law firm, employed under an apprenticeship agreement. During the apprenticeship agreement, you will spend time in “on the job” training at the law firm alongside spending time in “off the job training”, provided by a third party training provider. At the end of the apprenticeship, you will receives a qualification and (like a trainee) can remain with the law firm or move elsewhere.

2. What types of legal apprenticeships are there?

There are a number of different types of legal apprenticeships and each of those has a different apprenticeship “level”, indicating the level of qualification. The most common legal apprenticeships are:

• Paralegal Apprenticeship (Advanced – Level 3)
A Paralegal Apprenticeship is usually 2 years long and the “off the job” training generally includes a study of law and practice, legal research and client care. At the end of the two years, the paralegal will have a qualification (the type of qualification will depend on the training provider). Many Paralegal Apprentices remain employed with the law firm as a paralegal at the end of their apprenticeship, but other will look to progress their studies and their career (including looking qualify as a solicitor).

• Solicitor Apprenticeship (Degree – Level 7)
A Solicitor Apprenticeship is usually 6 years long and covers the areas of study that are needed to qualify as a solicitor through alternative routes. At the end of the apprenticeship, the Solicitor Apprentice will be a qualified solicitor (just like a trainee who has completed their training contract). A Solicitor Apprentice will generally have completed A-levels before starting their apprenticeship. Just like a trainee, a solicitor apprentice may remain with the law firm when they qualify or pursue a career elsewhere.

It is possible to recruit Paralegal Apprentices with a view to giving those that meet a law firm’s qualifying requirements the opportunity to continue to progress their career towards qualification as a solicitor.

3. What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?

Many students are attracted by the fact that they get to combine a paid job and academic study. Instead of having to pay for the high tuition fees of university, you get paid while you get your qualifications.

This can be incredibly beneficial for those who want a career in law, but struggle to acquire money for both undergraduate study and student housing.

The practical experience gained can be an excellent alternative if you want to stop full-time study.  If you are not motivated to study, University may not be for you. If you are more inclined to learn practically, an apprenticeship would be perfect for you. Spending time working with real professionals in a law firm might teach you more about law than any book will.

4. Which PRIME firms offer apprenticeships?

You can use our ‘find work experience tool’ on the left and can then filter your search to see which of our member firms also offer apprenticeships. 

Search for work experience

There are more than 60 law firms involved in PRIME, providing legal work experience up and down the UK and Republic of Ireland. That means whether you want to travel or stay at home, there’s an opportunity for you. Just tell us an area below, and we’ll tell you where the nearest firms are and how to apply.

You can then filter your search to see which of our member firms also offer apprenticeships. 

Search Note: Please add your full postcode in format NN1 1XX as an example.

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