A law apprenticeship is an alternative way to become a lawyer, paralegal or chartered legal executive, without having to study law full-time at university and take on costly student debt. A legal apprenticeship allows you to blend on-the-job training with studying and will pay you a modest salary.

What Are Legal Apprenticeships?

Law apprenticeships are government-backed, employer-designed ‘trailblazer’ schemes, which provide an alternative route to university for aspiring lawyers to qualify into various legal careers. Apprenticeships involve working and studying concurrently, allowing apprentices to ‘earn while they learn’ and develop skills while on-the-job.

As university fees continue to increase, law apprenticeships have become increasingly popular as an option to avoid student debt, with a 40% increase in the number of apprenticeship opportunities made available in 2021.

The following legal apprenticeships are currently available:

What Do Law Apprenticeships Involve?

On a legal apprenticeship programme, the work balance is based on an 80/20 principle which sees apprentices spend 80% of their time working in a law firm and 20% of their time studying for the academic component of the route. At the firm, apprentices work on developing their legal skills, commercial awareness and knowledge of different areas of the law.

This ‘work-based learning’ is then blended with part-time legal study which fills the remaining 20% of their time. Apprentices will be intermittently ‘released’ to an educational institution (which is partnered with their sponsoring law firm) for around one day a week to learn about theoretical aspects of the law. Some study may also be carried out online.

Either way, about 20% of the working week will be taken up by online or offline study of some form.

Each type of legal apprenticeship will have different apprentice responsibilities and tasks. Take a look at our dedicated solicitor, paralegal and CILex apprentice guides to find out more.

Who Offers Law Apprenticeships?

Law apprenticeships have become increasingly popular for both aspiring lawyers and law firms who recognise the benefits of in-firm training and progression. As a result, more and more firms now offer law apprenticeships, with an estimated 2,000 apprenticeships offered nationally across around 400 employers.

How Can You Find a Law Apprenticeship?

Each law firm advertises its apprenticeship opportunities on its website, with detailed instructions regarding entry requirements,  the application process and deadlines. Take a look at our deadline calendar to see which law firms are currently taking on law apprentices.

The calendar not only sets out application deadlines but also entry requirements, the type of apprenticeship being offered (solicitor/paralegal etc), salary details and direct links to application forms/processes).

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What Are The Entry Requirements For Law Apprenticeships?

The requirements for legal apprenticeships vary depending on which route you want to take and by firm. Most will expect applicants to have:

  • At least five GCSEs at grade A-C / 7-4 (including Maths and English)
  • Three A-levels at grade C and above, though it is worth noting some firms expect a minimum of ABB

Can You Do a Law Apprenticeship at 16 Years Old?

While the higher-level legal apprenticeships require A-levels, there are still opportunities in legal administration for school leavers who have obtained GCSEs. For example, level 2 apprenticeships in legal administration are a good stepping-stone into the legal sector. You can undertake a paralegal apprenticeship from age 16, if you meet the minimum GCSR requirements.

Employers will often look for two or more GCSEs (with passes in English and Maths) but may take work experience into consideration in lieu of these core requirements.

Watch our Q&A with a legal apprentice about how to apply, the benefits and general advice:

How Do You Apply for Legal Apprenticeships?

You can apply for a law apprenticeship in various ways – much like with any legal job, the application process will vary from firm to firm. Some may require that you submit a CV and cover letter, while others may have their own application questions you’ll have to answer on an online form.

Most applications will involve sending a CV and cover letter, one or more interviews and an assessment centre. Law firms are keen to be as transparent as possible with their application process, so you will often find this information on the firm’s website.

When applying for legal apprenticeships, it’s important to make sure you tailor your application to the specific firm. You should detail your interest in the firm and why you’d be a good fit for their firm culture. Many firms have a news section on their site that highlights recent big cases and transactions, as well as a section explaining their values.

How Much Is A Law Apprenticeship Salary?

All apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which as of April 2022 stands at £4.81 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year.

Apprentices who have completed their first year and are aged 19 or over are entitled to the NMW for their age range.

However, the majority of legal law firms often pay their apprentices considerably more than the NMW. Some firms also offer benefits such as childcare vouchers, private medical cover, pension contributions and discounted travel schemes.

Salaries do also differ between locations. For example, CMS apprentices earn a starting salary of £23,000 in London, £19,000 in Bristol and £18,000 in Sheffield and Manchester. Another example is Irwin Mitchell, which pays its apprentices a starting salary of £20,111 in London and £18,018 elsewhere.

This is similar to many jobs that offer what is commonly known as ‘London weighting’ to account for the higher cost of living in the city.

What Happens After a Legal Apprenticeship?

Each apprenticeship will offer different qualifications, for example, a solicitor apprenticeship will enable apprentices to start practising as a solicitor, but all of them will enable students to jump into working outside of the programme.

Some apprenticeships also enable students to progress into different areas – the completion of a level 3 paralegal apprenticeship allows students to work towards the Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice (with exemptions) or the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship.

Law firms may require apprentices to remain employed at the firm for a set period of time, while other may give you the option to apply elsewhere – for example, if there’s another firm with a practice area you’re interested in.

Are There Any Plans For Barrister Apprenticeships?

You can’t become a barrister with an apprenticeship at the moment, because there are only law apprenticeships for solicitors, paralegals and chartered legal executives.

To become a barrister, you will still have to complete a qualifying law degree, undertake the Bar Training Course and complete a pupillage.

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