Apprenticeships have long been a respected means of training practitioners in a profession.  Apprenticeships combine the acquisition of knowledge (academic study), skills (application of learning) and experience (work based learning) with an apprenticeship wage and paid holidays offered by the training employer.

The training requirements for solicitors and barristers have, most recently, followed a more traditional academic approach.  Starting with university study i.e. a law degree, followed by a practice qualification i.e. legal practice course or the bar professional training course and then a period of work experience i.e. a training contract or pupillage. 

Additional earn as you learn vocational routes, such as the Chartered Legal Executive qualification, have offered flexible and affordable alternatives to the more traditional higher education pathways for over 50 years and CILEx first launched legal services apprenticeships in 2013. Recent Government reforms have led to the introduction of 3 trailblazer legal apprenticeships, paralegal, Chartered legal executive and solicitor. 

As employers have taken the lead on the development of these trailblazers, apprentices can be assured that the apprenticeship standards meet the need of the sector and that the training they receive will equip them well for their future career development, whether that be a career as a lawyer or in legal support services. The standards have been designed for employers, by employers and are suitable for both large and small organisations offering a wide range of roles for future lawyers. Professional bodies have also been involved in the development of trailblazers to help ensure that, where possible, routes to professional registration can be included in the development of the standard, this adds a level of reassurance that completion of an apprenticeship offers not only the opportunity to experience the work related to a specific training model, but also allows the individual to work towards a recognised professional status.

"Apprentices can be assured that the apprenticeship standards meet the need of the sector."

Conscious that they may have been missing out on finding talented future recruits, employers have welcomed this additional means of staff recruitment and training and the number of apprenticeship vacancies is increasing daily. The traditional routes into law have tended to focus on recruiting those with high grades at A level, who have also had the opportunity to study at university and the ability to afford the practice qualifications associated with those pathways. Apprenticeships allow individuals a choice, and ensure that those for whom university is not an option (through choice or necessity) are still welcome to join the sector and progress within it, regardless of their background or prior learning.

 

Apprentices receive constant and consistent feedback throughout the duration of their apprenticeship, as their experience grows so does their knowledge and skills. 


 

Trailblazer apprenticeships offer apprentices the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the workings of a legal services provider, the types of legal practice that they could specialise in (eg family, property, crime, employment) and the future career paths available to them.  Apprentices get to find out whether they like the law, whether it is right for them and even if they decide that was not their career goal they will have gained valuable work experience, qualifications and avoided the student debt that is so often associated with higher education routes into the profession.

"Apprentices are able to make decisions about their future based on experience, a more informed choice."

Apprentices receive constant and consistent feedback throughout the duration of their apprenticeship, as their experience grows so does their knowledge and skills.  This creates a more rounded member of staff who has been shaped and moulded by the employer to meet their role requirements.

Having completed an apprenticeship, apprentices are able to make decisions about their future chosen career based on their own experience, a more informed choice, which is likely to lead them into making a long term plan that is right for them.  Apprentices are given an amazing opportunity to showcase their talent and skill to an employer, there is a possibility of full time employment or further vocational training available to them on completion of their apprenticeships.  They offer a great deal to future employers as they are job ready, have relevant qualifications and valuable work experience.

In terms of advice for those considering a legal apprenticeship the best advice would be to research your options. Understand your options; where possible try to obtain work experience in as many areas as possible to get an idea of the work that you are considering. Seek advice from friends, family, careers advisors and professional associations. This research will help to identify the option that is right for you and your own circumstances; it should also help you to find the right employer, one who is offering the future you are looking for.

Don’t take our word for it, hear from Danielle Owen one of our CILEx Legal Apprentices