Types of legal apprenticeship

  • Last updated Feb 10, 2018 5:55:22 PM
  • Jack J Collins, Editor of AllAboutLaw.co.uk

Legal apprenticeships have had lots of press over the past few months but in general they’re still very new. They join the growing number of industries that now offer alternative routes to university. We’re going to unpick the facts from the spin and let you know what’s currently out there for school leavers.

What is an apprenticeship?

Let's get at the basics of what an apprenticeship must consist of first. As with all government-backed apprenticeships, legal apprentices must be employed, generally for 30 or more hours a week, by a proper employer.

In addition, apprentices must have an “apprenticeship agreement” – this means that the apprenticeship is written into your employment contract and ensures that your employer will support the training and assessment that forms part of your apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship must last a minimum of 12 months – the actual length varies depending on the level of apprenticeship you are doing and how hard you work.

Levels of legal apprenticeship

There are three levels of legal apprenticeship available, which have been developed since 2016 as part of the new Government Trailblazer Scheme. These are…

  • The Paralegal Apprenticeship (Advanced, Level 3)
  • The Legal Executive Apprenticeship (Higher, Level 6)
  • The Solicitor Apprenticeship (Degree, Level 7)

Which level of legal apprenticeship is right for me?

Your starting point depends on two things: your academic background, which combines your experience and your academic record, and the type of job that you will be doing.

As the three levels correspond roughly to GCSEs, A Levels and the first year at university, you could be forgiven for thinking that if you have completed your A Levels your next step would be straight into a Higher Apprenticeship.

In fact, work undertaken by higher apprentices is often more complex than tasks most people will start out with and so it’s more likely you’ll start at intermediate or advanced level. Don’t worry too much about this. If you do well in your first year or so, you will then be able to progress to the next level of apprenticeship (some apprentices even skip a level) in years two or three.

With the new apprenticeships introduced by the Government last year, you can start as a Paralegal Advanced Apprentice, and work your way through the system to complete the Higher Levels later on if you so wish. 

The Paralegal Apprenticeship

  • Level 3 Apprenticeship
  • Two year minimum course duration
  • Minimum requirements – GCSE Maths and English, and two A-Levels at Grade C or above.

The Paralegal Apprenticeship gives apprentices the knowledge of law and practice which is necessary to complete the tasks presented to them in their field, allowing them to go on to either one of the other two apprenticeship routes, or to begin work as a paralegal.

It will prepare apprentices for tasks such as drafting documentation, carrying out research, reviewing client documents and the utilisation of financial documents; as well as developing client communication and data handling skills.

The Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship

  • Level 6 Apprenticeship
  • Five year approximate course duration.
  • Minimum requirements – GCSE Maths and English, and two A-Levels at Grade C or above.

The Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship is a course which develops onwards from the Paralegal apprenticeship, solidifying legal skills amongst the candidates in order to allow them to progress their careers.

They will, on top of the skills documented above, learn how to negotiate on behalf of clients, and also how to represent them in both formal and informal proceedings. They will also learn how to make decisions on legal principles on the rule of law.

The Solicitor Apprenticeship

  • Level 7 Apprenticeship
  • Six year approximate course duration.
  • Minimum requirements – minimum of five GCSE’s (including Maths and English) and three A-Levels, all at Grade C or above; or equivalent; and relevant employer-led work experience.

The Trailblazer Solicitor Apprenticeship is a six-year programme available to students which leads to qualification as a solicitor. It consists of blended learning with one day a month tuition at the City Law School.

Apprentices will learn all about the fundamentals of law and legal practice, gaining the knowledge equivalent to that of completing a law degree, LPC and training contract, over the course of the six years. 

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