Can I do a legal apprenticeship if I have a law degree?
Legal apprenticeship are often branded as an alternative route to qualification - even for those who have a law degree. However, what are legal apprenticeships and how do they work? This article will tackle this question, with a particular focus on law school graduates and the graduate solicitor apprenticeship.
What is a legal apprenticeship?
A legal apprenticeship is an alternative route into law whereby a person works and studies concurrently. They are offered by law firms as well as the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX).
A legal apprenticeship enables you to develop professional skills from the very start of your career through real-life experience. You will gain substantial practical work experience and critical knowledge by the time you qualify. This will help shape you to be a better lawyer as you will feel more comfortable with the day-to-day lawyer tasks.
What do law apprenticeships involve? What you do during a legal apprenticeship varies according to the pathway you choose. Most schemes will involve paid employment in a law firm, or in an in-house legal team. Typically, you’ll work under the supervision of a mentor.
As well as legal training, day-to-day work may include:
- Finding information and files in the data room
- Researching cases
- Working and communicating with clients
What are the typical entry requirements?
Individual law firms have their own entry requirements but the government recommends the minimum requirements for the majority of legal schemes to be:
- Five GCSEs, including mathematics and English - grade 4/C or above (or equivalent)
- Three A-levels (or equivalent) - minimum grade 4/C
- Relevant work experience
- Level 3 advanced apprenticeship in a relevant role - business administration, legal services, providing financial services
- Level 4 higher apprenticeship in a relevant job - legal services, professional services, and providing financial services. Having a Level 4 apprenticeship may make you entitled to training exemptions
- Paralegal apprenticeship (may be entitled to exemptions from training)
- Legal executive apprenticeship (may be entitled to exemptions from training)
- Law degree/Graduate Diploma in Law/Legal Practice Course (entitled to exemptions from training).
It should be emphasised that this is merely a typical example of the entry requirements. It’s a good idea to research your chosen apprenticeship pathway carefully by looking at the relevant employers/ firms’ website.
Graduate solicitor apprenticeship
Recently, graduate solicitor apprenticeships have been introduced as an alternative pathway to qualification. This can be achieved by completing the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE1 and SQE2).
These graduate training programmes generally last between two to three years. These trainees can start gaining experience and earning a salary earlier than aspiring solicitors following the traditional SQE to training contract route.
Trainees will receive a salary from their employer during this apprenticeship. The SQE training and assessments will be partially or fully funded by the firm through the apprenticeship levy.