In recent years, the legal industry has recognised the value of apprenticeships as a means to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce. Law apprenticeships aim to widen access to the legal profession by providing opportunities to talented individuals who may not have taken the traditional university route or who seek a more hands-on learning experience.
Law apprenticeships typically span a period of four to six years, during which apprentices work and study simultaneously. The academic aspect of law apprenticeships is provided through a combination of part-time study at a university or with an approved training provider.
What is a law apprenticeship?
A law apprenticeship is a practical route designed to give students an insight into the world of law. Specifically, this is meant to give students an insight into the world of law, the inner workings of a law firm and the day-to-day operations of those working in this sector.
You will then spend any time that is not working at a law firm studying with an approved learning provider. These are generally colleges, however, universities may also allow students to do this too.
An apprenticeship is designed to arm you with experience in a specific sector and also to forge industry contacts. A law apprenticeship is an excellent way to test some of the knowledge you have picked up in your studies and pick up some essential knowledge from those who have been working in the industry.
How long is a law apprenticeship?
This will depend on the firm you are doing the apprenticeship with. Some may only last for a year or two, while others can last as long as six.
Law apprenticeships tend to take a little longer than other apprenticeships. There is such a variety of things to learn and such a vast amount that these often take longer than apprenticeships in other sectors or areas.
What qualifications do you need?
Entry requirements will vary depending on the apprenticeship you take. Generally speaking, you will need to have GCSEs and A-Levels. Some employers may accept a BTEC or T-Levels, but this will depend on the employer.
Subjects are not specified as they can change depending on where you are doing the apprenticeship. Generally, firms may ask for qualifications in Maths and English, however, the rest will vary.
Typically, employers are not just interested in qualifications. While they are important, your drive, passion and enthusiasm are generally more critical for an apprenticeship rather than an actual job.
How do I apply for a law apprenticeship?
You will need to apply through the employer themselves. This will mean submitting a cover letter and a student CV. If you are successful, the employer will call you back for an interview.
There may be specific entry requirements that you need to meet. All employers will have specific criteria for those who are applying, which could be anything from prior work experience, a desire to study law courses at university and more, so make sure you read the listing carefully.
What legal apprenticeships are available?
Law apprenticeships tend to be offered by law firms, often with government backing. These apprenticeships tend to focus on those who are training to be a paralegal, a solicitor or anyone who wishes to work in legal administration.
Typically, you will need to complete a specific pathway, which generally means rising through the different apprenticeship levels. These levels are from one to seven and cover areas of becoming a legal secretary, paralegal, chartered legal executive and solicitor. You can also study areas such as the Diploma in Law.
The firms that offer legal apprenticeships may vary. Some may offer them, others may not. You can typically find out by checking a firm’s website.
Who are law apprenticeships aimed at?
Law apprenticeships are aimed at all sorts. Typically, these tend to be aimed at school leavers, those changing careers or those looking for alternatives to university. Although these target a variety of different people, they are not always recommended for everyone.
For example, school leavers are not recommended for certain apprenticeship types. To study the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship pathway, for example, you will need to have completed the paralegal apprenticeships or will need to have received qualifications in the CILEX Level 3 qualifications in legal services.
What does a law apprenticeship involve?
This will generally depend on where you work and what apprenticeship type you are doing. Generally, this will involve paid employment at a law firm or while you are gaining a professional qualification or degree. Law apprenticeships tend to be around 30 hours a week, with supervision.
Generally, you will have a wide remit of tasks. These can include:
- Attend court hearings.
- Carry out legal research.
- Client correspondence.
- Communicating with clients.
- Drafting legal documents.
- Drafting letters.
- Interview and advise clients.
- Manage and maintain accurate records.
- Negotiate solutions.
- Taking meeting minutes.
Of course, you may also be asked to carry out more admin tasks. As the least qualified staff member, you may be asked to collect mail, sign for deliveries, update the filing system or even help professionals with their work.
What is the salary of a law apprenticeship?
The apprenticeship wage you receive for a law apprenticeship will vary depending on where you are working. Your salary may also differ depending on the type of legal apprenticeship it is, as solicitors tend to earn more than paralegals.
The salary for a legal apprenticeship is usually:
- Year 1 (Paralegal): £20,000
- Year 2 (Paralegal): £22,000
- Year 1 (Solicitor): £25,000
- Year 2 (Solicitor): £30,000
- Year 3 (Solicitor): £44,000
- Year 4: (Solicitor): £46,000
- New qualified lawyer: £65,000
These salaries are based on offerings from Burges Salmon, one of the top law firms in the UK.
Will I qualify as a solicitor?
This will depend on the pathway you choose to take. The Paralegal and Legal Services apprenticeships do not grant you the ability to become a fully-trained solicitor, however, there are chances to go and study a degree afterwards that will allow you to become one.
However, completing solicitor apprenticeships does allow you to become a solicitor. As you will have completed many different routes and will also have relevant work experience, you will also be able to complete a series of professional qualifications as part of your solicitor apprenticeship.
It is also possible to take on other roles. You can become a solicitor, paralegal or legal secretary (provided you have the required qualifications), but you can also look at other roles in separate industries such as a chartered accountant, a stockbroker or a mediator.