From 2016 new legal apprenticeships are being offered as an alternative to the traditional graduate route to qualification, and it's now possible to qualify as a solicitor, paralegal or chartered legal executive by completing an apprenticeship. The standards expected of apprentice solicitors are the same as those expected of all solicitors, with rigorous assessments before they are admitted to the profession. An apprentice receives a salary and will complete a combination of classroom and work-based learning.
Further information is available on the Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) website and the government's Get In, Go Far website.
It is not a requirement to study for a degree as part of the apprenticeship. Individual employers will identify any entry requirements but the government's recommended minimum entry requirements are:
- five GCSEs, including mathematics and English - grade C or above (or equivalent)
- advocacy and communication skills
- three A Levels (or equivalent) - minimum grade C
- relevant employer-led work experience
- level 3 advanced apprenticeship in a relevant occupation - business administration, legal services, providing financial services
- level 4 higher apprenticeship in a relevant occupation - legal services, professional services, and providing financial services (may be entitled to exemptions from training)
- 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).
Apprentices will be assessed through functioning knowledge tests, which will consist of a timed exam in an assessment centre and a work-based assessment. They will then take a standardised practical legal exam, which must be completed within the last six months of their apprenticeship.
Solicitor apprenticeships last five to six years. This may be reduced if exemptions from training are applicable.
In order to successfully qualify as a solicitor through the apprenticeship routes, students must demonstrate they meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard.