The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2024

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 2024 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 find apprenticeship opportunities on LawCareers.Net: there’s a comprehensive and searchable jobs board of current vacancies in the Apprenticeships hub under ‘View hubs’ in the menu.

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

You can qualify as a solicitor (private practice and in-house), legal executive or paralegal: a range of apprenticeship options allow 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 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’s 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. There are now new graduate solicitor apprenticeships on offer for law graduates or non-law graduates who’ve completed a conversion course.

• 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? Head to the Apprenticeships hub on – 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. Grace Ambrose, graduate recruitment and development manager, 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 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 isn’t 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 must complete the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) assessments to qualify as a solicitor.

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

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 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 offers. However, offices often have great socialising opportunities too, with plenty of activities to get involved in, and you’re bound to make good friends.

The opportunities for socialising at university are fantastic. From 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 (or equivalent)


Non-law degree

Law degree

Intermediate apprenticeship

Paralegal apprenticeship

Law conversion


Solicitor apprenticeship (incl. SQE)

Graduate apprenticeship (incl. SQE)

Chartered legal executive apprenticeship

SQE assessments


Legal executive

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GCSE The foundation and first step of your legal career.

Graduate solicitor apprenticeship The graduate solicitor apprenticeship is a new addition to the growing ways to qualify as a solicitor. It’s designed for candidates with a qualifying law degree (or equivalent qualification) or non-law graduates who’ve completed a conversion course, and can take between two to three years to complete. It works in a similar way to the traditional training contract with on-the-job training and SQE preparation. Graduate solicitor apprentices must pass the SQE assessments to qualify. 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 almost always for lower pay. Whether you become a paralegal through an apprenticeship or secure a paralegal job after graduating from university, you can qualify as a solicitor, legal executive or a more senior paralegal role. CILEX chartered legal executive A legal executive is another type of lawyer who’s trained to specialise as an expert in one area of law. Within that specialism, the job of a legal executive is similar to that of a solicitor – they advise clients, draft documents and conduct research to find solutions. 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 different areas of law, but the fundamentals of the job are largely the same. These include advising clients on 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 (including English and maths) graded 9 to 4 (A to C) or equivalent. Apprentices 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 and can lead to qualification as a solicitor via a solicitor apprenticeship. It’s also possible 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 and commercial skills, and professional conduct. All solicitor apprentices are required to pass the SQE. The apprenticeships include preparation and training for the assessments.

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Meet the apprentice

Cyril Lekgetho (he/him) Mayer Brown International LLP

Cyril Lekgetho is a first-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown. He’s currently studying in the employment (global legal projects) department.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

The prospect of having six years of sector-specific experience prior to qualifying as a solicitor was a big draw for me. It presented an opportunity to make industry connections and grow a professional network, work alongside the brightest minds in the profession on complex matters and earn a wage from an early age.

What’s a typical day at work like?

In my current seat, there’s a lot of communication between international offices and clients and, on many occasions, I’ve been tasked with contacting overseas offices to: • request information • share documents; and • make business proposals. Drafting is also a large aspect of my day-to-day work; I’ve helped draft client guides, articles, letters of advice, emails and even scripts, to name a few. Of course, all the above must be proofread, which is also a necessary task. Both internal and external meetings and training sessions take place regularly to aid professional development and expose apprentices to distinct aspects of practice (eg, pro bono sessions).

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How have you found juggling work with your study days?

Effective time management is an important skill when it comes to juggling work with studying; however, I’ve found that the allocated time for studying, and the study leave that’s granted in advance of an exam, has been sufficient and allowed me to apply myself fully to both work and study. That said, personal effective time management is incredibly important.

Will you be qualifying via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam?

Yes, I’ll commence the SQE in my final year of the apprenticeship.

What’s the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

As previously mentioned, working alongside talented minds in the profession and learning from them directly and via osmosis has been very fulfilling. I’ve also enjoyed being exposed to different sides of the business that a trainee solicitor wouldn’t typically get to see, like the business services departments where apprentices spend the first year of the scheme.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

The solicitor apprenticeship is a six-year commitment, as such I’d advise in favour of researching the legal profession fully to determine whether it’s the right path for you – this can be done virtually and in person by attending insight days and seminars/webinars, completing internships, and simply reaching out to existing apprentices to hear their experiences.

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Meet the apprentice

Esther Farley Mayer Brown International LLP

Esther Farley is a fourth-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown. She’s currently in the intellectual property team.

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 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’s 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 puts apprentices in business services departments for their first year to give them time to find this balance.

What’s 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 which kinds 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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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 starting point. 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’d 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 in 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 solicitor 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) you think you’ll enjoy. A levels are 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 completing 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 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 even help you to 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 ever before. Individual

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

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.

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 on our Apprenticeships hub which you can access via ‘View hubs’ in the menu. Other valuable resources include the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives ( and the government’s apprenticeship page (

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’d like more copies of The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2024 or the companion publication, The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law 2024 , please contact

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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 crucial. 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 the 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 lawyer 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. 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:

A passion for the firm. Legal apprenticeships vary in length depending on what level they are but most solicitor apprenticeships last six years. Do your research and make sure you only apply to firms you can see yourself growing with.

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