Back in the day, the only way to break into the legal sector would be to pack up your bags, set off to university, complete your degree, complete a a Graduate Diploma in Law and/or a Legal Practice Course, apply for and succeed in getting onto a training contract, completing said training contract and then (finally!) starting your career as a solicitor. If you want to be a barrister, you would have been required to undertake a Bar Professional Training Course and find yourself a pupillage also.
It’s safe to say that this is a lengthy process, and with tuition fees sky-rocketing, more and more school leavers are looking for alternative ways to start their career in the legal industry. We’ve already covered paralegal apprenticeships, but we’ll now let you know about other legal apprenticeships, what they involve and where they can take you in your legal career!
What is a legal apprenticeship?
As with Apprenticeships in other industries, those on a legal apprenticeship will study for a qualification whilst in full-time paid work. This qualification is one that can send you on your way to becoming a legal executive through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and will take one or two years to complete.
Other legal apprenticeships provide you with the opportunity to pursue a career in legal or business administration. You can work in a variety of legal areas from criminal prosecution and employment law to debt recovery and personal injury.
What does a legal apprenticeship involve?
As a legal apprentice you will work a 30-hour week as a trainee paralegal and undertake tasks such as:
- Shadowing lawyers
- Conducting legal research
- Assisting with legal matters
- Communicating with clients
- General admin work.
Apprentices are usually assigned a mentor also, who will help you learn the ropes of the industry before starting you off on your training. You will then work towards gaining a certificate that will put you on the route to becoming a legal executive. Which leads us on nicely to…
Where will a legal apprenticeship take my career?
As mentioned, completing a legal apprenticeship will provide you with a certificate and many options to continue your career in the legal sector. For example, if you completed an Advanced Apprenticeship, you can progress to the CILEx level 3 professional qualification, which will allow you to study a Professional Diploma in Law and Practice, which is the first stage in the process of becoming a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer. This is the equivalent of completing A levels.
If you’ve done a Higher Apprenticeship, you can progress to the CILEx level 6 professional qualification, which is the equivalent of doing a degree! This is the final stage of training to becoming a legal executive, a role that is very similar to being a solicitor and legal executives can even become partners of law firms.
Transferring from a legal apprenticeship to become a solicitor
Alternatively, if you want to qualify as a solicitor you can use your apprenticeship as a stepping stone between school and university, going on to study law and securing a training contract. Possessing a legal apprenticeship can also allow you to become a member of professional organisations.
Doing a legal apprenticeship should not be seen as a ‘soft option’. There’s still loads of work involved and those who offer legal apprenticeships only take on the best of the best. Additionally, if you want to use your apprenticeship to become a legal executive, you need to do further studying. However, you can become a paralegal or claims handler with your apprenticeship and progress within your company to a senior position. And one of the best bits about a legal apprenticeship? No extortionate tuition fees!