The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2023

If you’re deciding whether to go to university after leaving school or to start your career as a lawyer straight away with an apprenticeship, The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2023 can help.



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Five key things to know about a legal apprenticeship

You don’t need a university degree: you can progress straight from your GCSEs or A levels to your apprenticeship.

You earn while you learn: you receive a salary while working as an apprentice, at the same time as studying.

You can apply for an apprenticeship through LawCareers.Net: there’s a comprehensive and searchable jobs board of current vacancies in ‘The Law Apprenticeships Guide’ section of

You can work in a law firm, private company or local government: many different types of organisation employ legal apprentices.

You can qualify as a solicitor, legal executive or paralegal: a range of apprenticeship options enable you to become different types of lawyer.

Find out more in the rest of the guide.


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How do I decide whether a law apprenticeship is for me? This guide helps you to:

If you’re deciding whether to go to university after leaving school or to start your career as a lawyer straight away with an apprenticeship, The Law Apprenticeships Guide can help. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about the legal profession or apprenticeships – this guide is designed to give you the information you need before you choose your next step. What is a law apprenticeship? A law apprenticeship combines paid work and training at a law firm with part-time study. It’s an alternative path to going to university that offers the same career destinations but avoids the expensive fees.

• compare university and apprenticeship paths so you can understand what each offers; • learn about the different types of apprenticeship and where they lead; • find out more about what it’s like to work as a legal apprentice; • check that you have the key skills needed for a law apprenticeship; and • find out about current vacancies using the LawCareers.Net legal apprenticeships jobs board. Where can I find out more? Go to – you’ll find a jobs board where new apprenticeship vacancies are frequently posted, plus detailed information on apprenticeships and every other possible career path offered by the UK legal profession.

Legal apprenticeships enable young people to get onto a fulfilling and rewarding career path without the cost of going to university. Our apprentices are valued members of the firm, applying what they learn to real, practical work as they increase in confidence, responsibility and independence on the path to becoming fully qualified lawyers. Serena Dawson, graduate recruitment and development coordinator, Mayer Brown International LLP


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Apprenticeship v university

University is the right path for some people because it offers the chance to study an interesting subject in detail and gain a valuable degree that opens career options. University can also be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, filled with opportunities for getting involved in new activities and meeting life-long friends. On the other hand, an apprenticeship offers a more direct path to those same career options, without the costs of going to university or the same intense competition for places. Apprenticeships are also perfect for people who aren’t keen on more full-time study after finishing their A levels and want to kickstart their careers.

It’s important to remember that in the legal profession, you can have the same career whether you choose university or an apprenticeship, which means that your choice is not so much about where you end up, but how you get there – some apprenticeships even involve gaining a university degree. Law apprenticeships lead to three possible careers – solicitor, legal executive or paralegal. All three are also available if you choose to go to university. Find out more about what being a solicitor, legal executive or paralegal involves on pages 4 and 5 in ‘Career paths’. Meanwhile, this table explains some of the key differences between an apprenticeship and going to university.

Qualifications Apprenticeship


Professional qualifications to become a solicitor, legal executive or paralegal. Completing the solicitor apprenticeship also involves gaining a law degree. Apprentices will need to complete the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) assessments to qualify as a solicitor.

A university degree in one of hundreds of possible subjects that’s widely recognised. For law, a university degree in any subject makes you eligible for the postgraduate professional courses you must complete to become a solicitor, legal executive, paralegal or barrister.

Cost Apprenticeship


None to the apprentice – the costs of apprenticeships are covered by the

With tuition fees standing at more than £9,000 a year and living costs on top of that, many students leave university in tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of debt.

government and employers, while apprentices themselves are paid at least the apprentices’ National Minimum Wage during their apprenticeship.

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Duration Apprenticeship


Eighteen to 24 months for the intermediate apprenticeship, 24 months for the paralegal apprenticeship and six years for the solicitor apprenticeship. It takes four years on average to qualify as a legal executive.

Undergraduate degrees usually last three to four years.

Work experience Apprenticeship


Full-time work in a law firm or the legal department of a company or other organisation.

Optional work placements and internships – students interested in law should apply for work experience at law firms.

Social life Apprenticeship


As an apprentice working and studying full time, you may miss out on some social opportunities that come with going to university, such as the chance to meet new friends among students from all over the world and enjoy all the experiences that university has to offer. However, offices often have great socialising opportunities too, with plenty of activities to get involved with, and you’re bound to make good friends.

The opportunities for socialising at university are fantastic. From the societies covering everything from political debating to cheerleading, to the thriving music, arts and social scenes at most universities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Career prospects Apprenticeship


Both law apprentices and university graduates can pursue a career as a solicitor, legal executive or paralegal.

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Apprenticeship career paths



A level

Intermediate apprenticeship

Paralegal apprenticeship

Solicitor apprenticeship


Chartered legal executive apprenticeship

SQE1 and SQE2

Legal executive


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GCSE The foundation of your career and the essential first step of your legal career.

All solicitor apprentices are now required to pass the SQE. The apprenticeships include preparation and training, with the assessments incorporated throughout the apprenticeship. Paralegal Paralegals have traditionally worked alongside solicitors in law firms as support staff, but in practice many paralegals do the same work as trainees or newly-qualified solicitors – although this is almost always for lower pay. Whether you become a paralegal through an apprenticeship or secure a job as a paralegal after graduating from university, it’s possible to progress onto qualifying as a solicitor, legal executive or a more senior paralegal role. CILEX chartered legal executive A legal executive is another type of lawyer who is trained to specialise as an expert in one particular area of law. Within that specialism, the job of a legal executive is very similar to that of a solicitor – legal executives advise clients, draft documents and conduct research to find solutions to problems. Solicitor Solicitors provide advice and assistance on legal matters. They’re the first point of contact for people and organisations seeking legal advice and representation. Solicitors may work in very different areas of law, but the fundamentals of the job remain largely the same. These include advising clients on their legal problems, doing legal research to find solutions, drafting important documents, such as contracts or wills, and occasionally representing clients at tribunals or in court.

A level The academic stage between GCSE and

university or the beginning of a paralegal/solicitor apprenticeship. Universities and employers will likely look at your A-level grades.

Intermediate apprenticeship The intermediate apprenticeship is aimed at school leavers who haven’t done A levels. Entry requirements are five GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (A to C) or equivalent and must include English and maths. Apprentices will develop skills to assist in the progression of cases on an administrative level. It’s usually a 15 to 21-month course. Paralegal apprenticeship The paralegal apprenticeship (sometimes known as the advanced apprenticeship) delivers paralegal training in a particular legal practice area. Entry requirements are five GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (including English and maths) and three A levels graded C or above (or equivalent). It’s usually a 24 to 30-month course. It can lead on to further training via the solicitor apprenticeship route to qualify as a solicitor. It’s also possible to go on to qualify as a chartered legal executive. Solicitor apprenticeship The solicitor apprenticeship is a six-year programme of paid, on-the-job training ending in qualification as a solicitor. The entry requirements are five GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (including English and maths) and three A levels (minimum grades vary among employers from CCC to AAB) or equivalent work experience. The apprenticeship integrates a law degree, obtained at the end of the fourth year. Apprentices learn law and legal practice alongside gaining competence in legal skills, commercial skills and professional conduct.

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Meet the apprentice

Esther Farley Mayer Brown International LLP

Esther Farley is a third-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown LLP. She’s currently in the litigation construction department.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

By the time I finished sixth form, I was unsure whether I wanted to continue with full-time education and I didn’t like the idea of accumulating student debt at university. So I took a year out to consider my options and got a job in a local estate agent, where I really enjoyed working in an office and earning a wage. I then applied to various legal apprenticeships around the country and was eventually offered my place with Mayer Brown.

What is a typical day at work like?

When I’m in the office, I arrive at work at around 9:15am and start working on my tasks for the day. This can be anything from drafting documents, legal research, reviewing legislation, to client correspondence and meetings, or observing hearings or mediations. I’ll often meet with trainee solicitors at lunch or go for a walk before returning for the afternoon. The kind of work I do varies widely depending on the department I’m sitting in and the matters they’re working on at the time. As apprentices move around the firm every six months, it’s very interesting to see so many different practice areas and experience new fields of law. There are also lots of opportunities to get involved with pro bono work, which allows me to take on more responsibility than my normal client work, and other diversity and inclusion initiatives within the firm.

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How have you found juggling work with your study days?

As apprentices, we have one day a week to study and attend university. This day typically involves preparation work, followed by an online lecture, and then some consolidation work to solidify the material we’ve covered. We also have termly coursework to demonstrate the work we do each day and what we’re learning at the firm. The lead up to exams or coursework deadlines can be challenging as we might have to use more of our own time to revise and prepare. Generally, though, it’s manageable to balance work with study and Mayer Brown put apprentices in business services departments for their first year to give them time to find this balance.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

For me, the most enjoyable part of my apprenticeship is learning practically how to be a lawyer from some of the best individuals in their fields. When my peers left university with their law degrees, they often didn’t have much legal work experience and struggled to get jobs in law as a result. I, on the other hand, work full time in a global law firm with direct client contact, increasing responsibilities and the opportunity to observe colleagues daily who are professional role models.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

My advice would be to spend some time researching firms that offer apprenticeships and visiting them to find offices where you feel the working environment and culture will allow you to be successful. There are many firms with different cultures, values and sizes, but they won’t all suit everybody, so it’s invaluable that you do your research. Similarly, work experience is useful to discover the type of legal work you find interesting and areas that you might not have thought about getting involved in, as well as building your CV and transferable skills ahead of applying for apprenticeships.

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Meet the apprentice

Millie Aish RPC

Paralegal apprentice Millie shares insights into her day-to-day work and offers advice to those in the throes of choosing their next steps.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

I didn’t realise apprenticeships existed in the legal sector until I attended my A-level options evening. It was there that I spoke to an ex-student who had completed an apprenticeship. After lots of work experience in several sectors, I found that practical hands-on learning suited me – a style of learning that the apprenticeship route offers. It also provides a rounded and beneficial insight into the sector because you’re embedded in the industry and are at the forefront of cases, unlike the university route, which is quite theoretical. Candidates develop soft skills and learn from top role models who will likely become part of their professional network.

What is a typical day at work like?

There’s no such thing as a typical day. I work in a team of paralegals and apprentices who support the rest of the teams across the firm’s Bristol and London offices. We get lots of different types of work coming in – for example, one day you could be working on an employment tribunal bundle and the next day you could be dealing with a professional negligence claim. The apprenticeship route offers so much exposure to various areas of the law, so you’re constantly learning.

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How have you found juggling work with your study days?

I have a good balance between work and studying. The firm gives us one day a week to complete our studying and because of the route the firm picked for my cohort, we don’t have any exams until the end of our apprenticeship. I find that I rarely have to study outside of the study day, apart from occasionally having to finish some of the reading. The firm always encourages us to not use our work laptop and not check work emails so we can dedicate this period to studying. The previous apprentices are also always available to discuss the studying side of the apprenticeship, which is invaluable.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

There are so many amazing aspects to being an apprentice. The variety of work is definitely one of those. Plus, our colleagues are so supportive – the partners and senior associates pay a lot of interest into this route and our careers. As a result, we’re given opportunities to develop and learn, and are supported in doing this, even if it’s a task that’s maybe at the top end of our ability. We’re also encouraged to develop our soft skills through client and social events. There are lots of educational talks too – you can get involved in as many as you want. The overarching aspect that I enjoy the most is the firm’s supportive, friendly and collaborative ethos.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

The golden rule with applications is research. Find out what a law apprenticeship is, which firms offer them and make sure it’s the right route for you. After this, conduct research into your shortlisted firms and the areas of law in which they work. Look into the firm’s values and hold these in mind when completing your application – show how your values are in line with the firm’s. You’ve got to ascertain whether the firm is the right fit for you too and conducting this research will help. Candidates should also illustrate the skills that the firm is looking for in its future apprentices. Use the job description and provide evidence of the skills you possess, whether that’s via your involvement in sports teams or part-time work. And, finally, remember to get someone to read your application before you send it.

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Key questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about legal apprenticeships.

How do I know if law is the right career for me? At this early stage, it can be hard to be sure, but ask yourself

Haven’t all lawyers been to private schools and Oxbridge? No. Most firms understand that

some key questions as a start. Do you find legal issues interesting? Are you intrigued by the ways in which the law is part of everyday life? Is there an area (eg, crime, the environment or human rights) that’s caught your attention? Are you the kind of person who would thrive in a fast-paced legal environment? The best way to find out whether law is for you is by talking to lawyers and doing some quality work experience within the profession. What skills and strengths do you need to be a good lawyer? Several important skills are needed to be a good lawyer. Many of them are developed during your academic studies, while others become apparent in your working life – the advantage of developing them as an apprentice is that you’ll be doing both simultaneously. The attributes that most recruiters look for include: intellectual ability; motivation; accuracy; teamwork; leadership; commercial awareness (ie, an interest in the business world); and communication skills. If you have the majority of these, law could be a good option for you!

the best workforces are representative of the whole community. Most employers have their own diversity policies to ensure that they provide a welcoming and supportive environment for people whatever their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age or socioeconomic background, for example. In fact, legal apprentice schemes are one of the ways that firms are trying to attract and recruit a more diverse group of employees. Who can become an apprentice? Many legal apprenticeships are aimed at students who want to move into a vocation after completing their GCSEs or A levels. Most legal apprentices have recently finished secondary education, but apprenticeships are also open to mature candidates (eg, those who’ve had a previous career) and graduates (ie, graduate apprenticeships).

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Do I have to study A-level law to be an apprentice? In short, no. People do much better in subjects that they’re

What do I need to know about my first day at work? Your first day in any job can be intimidating but don’t worry –

interested in, so pursue A levels (and GCSEs) that you think you’ll enjoy. A level is about studying subjects you find interesting and developing key skills – specialist legal training comes later. Also, very few universities list A-level law as a requirement, even for those wanting to start a law degree, so it’s not essential. In fact, you can become a lawyer without ever completing a law degree by choosing a non-law degree and then doing a law conversion course. Achieving good grades is important, whichever subjects you choose. Go for subjects that you enjoy and do well in to give yourself the best chance of passing with flying colours. It’s much better to get As and Bs in three subjects than to get Bs and Cs in four, so don’t give yourself too much to do.

most firms have comprehensive induction programmes for new joiners. You may also find yourself starting on the same day as other apprentices, so there are likely to be others in the same boat. Some firms will also give you a trainee buddy or mentor to help you adjust. Be yourself, ask questions, show enthusiasm, and pretty soon you’ll feel right at home. One note on dress code: lawyers are business people and their clients expect them to look the part. While some firms are more relaxed than others, your best bet is to arrive looking well presented. That doesn’t mean spending a fortune on tailor-made outfits, but it does mean arriving on your first day dressed smartly and ready to do the job.

Should I go to my careers service? Your school careers service is a brilliant resource that you should use. They can help you

with application and interview techniques, suggest places to look for information, and maybe even help you secure informal work experience or shadowing with a law firm.

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Key questions

Where can I find details of apprenticeship vacancies and how do I apply? There’s more information out there about legal apprenticeships than

What if I might prefer the traditional route? If you’re undecided between an apprenticeship and other routes into the legal profession,

ever before. Individual firms/organisations will advertise on their own websites and elsewhere, including on LawCareers.Net ( LCN has a regularly updated apprenticeship jobs board, so it’s worth checking frequently for new vacancies, especially at the end of the school year. The site also has more general information about apprenticeships. Other valuable resources include the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives ( and the government’s apprenticeship page (

such as applying for a university place, read The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law – the companion guide to this one. The Beginner’s Guide is your first stop for information about the university route to becoming a solicitor, barrister, legal executive or paralegal. LawCareers.Net is also a great place for information about this career path, including news, advice, features and interviews.

On LawCareers.Net you’ll find:

A directory of over 1,000 law firms, barristers’ chambers and legal educators

A range of videos and podcast episodes

Blog posts from law students

Features providing information and advice about pursuing a legal career

Personalised careers advice via The Oracle

Profiles of lawyers and recruiters

Tips and articles to boost your commercial awareness

The latest legal news

Find us on:

If you would like more copies of The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2023 or the companion publication, The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law 2023 , please contact

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A law apprenticeship combines an interesting job and training at a law firm with part-time study. This means hard work, but the rewards are well worth it. Here’s a checklist of the necessary skills and what you must do to get off to a flying start as a legal apprentice. Your legal apprenticeship skills checklist: Good written and verbal communication skills. Lawyers advise people in person, over the phone and in emails and letters, so writing and speaking with confidence is important. Attention to detail. This is one of the cornerstones of the legal profession, so it’s essential that you take a careful and thorough approach to all work you produce as an apprentice, checking and rechecking as you go. Good interpersonal and customer service skills. As an apprentice you’ll meet a wide range of different people, from colleagues in your organisation to clients that need one of your legal services. You must be friendly, enthusiastic and professional, even with difficult clients. The ability to work well as part of a team. Solicitors and the other types of lawyers found in law firms rarely work alone. A law firm is one big team divided into smaller teams with different areas of expertise who help each other out, so as an apprentice you’ll work closely with others. Being a team player is essential. Strong organisational skills. Apprentices must stay on top of multiple tasks and be able to prioritise and meet deadlines. They also need to balance their law firm role with studying part time, so it’s important to work hard and be organised. A strong academic track record. Law is an intellectually rigorous and demanding profession. Employers will look for evidence of a strong work ethic, so work hard at getting the best results you possibly can during your GCSEs and A levels (if applicable).

A desire to learn. Although a law apprenticeship offers a great opportunity to get straight onto a fulfilling career path after leaving school, the learning has only just begun once you join a law firm as an apprentice. You’ll train and study to become an expert legal professional, so enthusiasm to learn more is a must.

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