CILEx on legal apprenticeships: An alternative route to a career in law

CILEx on legal apprenticeships: An alternative route to a career in law

The best advice for those considering a legal apprenticeship is to research all options, according to CILEx

Apprenticeships have long been a respected and effective means of training practitioners in a profession. They combine the acquisition of knowledge (academic study), skills (application of learning) and experience (work-based learning) while earning a wage with a training employer.

Training requirements for solicitors and barristers have traditionally followed a more academic approach. These traditional routes into law have focused on recruiting university graduates who can afford the practice qualifications associated with those pathways. Apprenticeships create more choice and ensure that for those, for whom university is not an option (through choice or necessity), there is an alternative route into the sector regardless of background or prior learning.

Other earn-as-you-learn vocational routes, such as the Chartered Legal Executive qualification, have offered flexible and affordable alternatives into the profession for more than 50 years. CILEx first launched legal services apprenticeships in 2013 and now the sector has three apprenticeships available, covering paralegal, chartered legal executive and solicitor standards.

As employers lead on these developments, apprentices can be assured that the standards meet the needs 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 are designed by employers for employers and are suitable for both large and small organisations offering a wide range of roles for future lawyers.

Professional bodies are also involved in these developments to ensure that routes to professional registration are included in relevant standards. This means that apprenticeships not only offer work experience related to a specific training model, but also to work towards a recognised professional status.

Employers have welcomed this additional means of recruitment and training, to help fill the current skills gap, and the number of apprenticeship vacancies is increasing daily.

These apprenticeships offer the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the workings of a legal services provider, the types of legal practice that apprentices could specialise in (for example, family, property or employment) and the future career paths available to them. Apprentices can discover whether working in the legal sector is right for them and even if they decide that this was not their career goal, they will have gained valuable work experience and qualifications to take with them into other sectors. They also avoid the student debt that is associated with other routes into the profession.

Apprentices receive consistent feedback throughout their training which ensures that as their experience grows so does their knowledge and skills. This creates a more rounded employee, a valuable resource to future employers as they are job-ready, having relevant qualifications and valuable work experience.

Successful apprentices can make more informed choices about their future chosen career based on their experience. Apprenticeships offer an amazing opportunity to showcase talent and skill to an employer, creating possibilities for permanent employment or further vocational training.

The best advice for those considering a legal apprenticeship is to research all options. Seek advice from friends, family, careers advisors and professional associations. This research will help identify the option that is right for you. It should also help you to find the right employer, one who will work with you to achieve your future goals.

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