Written by Trainee Solicitor, Chloe Westwell.
Traditionally, one of the most popular ways to break into the legal field and become a solicitor was to obtain a degree and complete a Legal Practice Course. You’d have to deal with hundreds of knocks backs in trying to obtain a training contract, before completing 18-24 months’ work experience, including plenty of coffee, before finally being admitted to the roll of Solicitors.
These days, more and more people are looking at different ways to obtain a career in law.
One of the most popular paths into the legal profession is the legal apprenticeship scheme which gives students a direct route to qualification as a solicitor.
It is a new scheme which was introduced in 2016 which has been approved as part of the government’s programme to reform and improve apprenticeships.
The scheme will enable students to gain invaluable work experience, in the legal sector, during paid employment in a law firm or an in-house legal team whilst having the opportunity to gain professional qualifications along the way.
The legal apprenticeship is a level 7 apprenticeship which will normally take a person five and six years to complete in full, and is aimed at all aspiring lawyers whether you are a school leaver, someone looking to work in the legal profession or as an alternative to university.
Many law firms such as Fletchers Solicitors are now offering these apprenticeships as well as in-house legal departments such as M&S, Coca Cola and, more recently,TUI.
In order to complete the apprenticeship and qualify as a solicitor, an apprentice must hold and pass all of the below criteria:
- Pass both stages of the SQE which is a two stage examination known as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination which you will need to complete during the apprenticeship programme.
- Have a degree or equivalent
- Have a substantial period of qualifying work experience
- Satisfy the character and suitability requirements.
Therefore, pursuing this route to qualification is not easy, and it is not for the faint-hearted, but has some fantastic benefits. A successful candidate embarking on their new career will not be tied down by the ever increasing costs of education fees.
Qualifications can be obtained for a lifelong successful career without any student loans. Also, as an apprentice you will develop confidence and a wide set of transferable skills that are attractive to all employers. You can begin a career potentially straight from school, becoming a respected and valuable member of a team whilst working alongside professionals full of knowledge to share, all whilst receiving a wage.
One of our Legal Apprentices at Fletchers Solicitors, Joshua Whittam has passed us his comments on why he chose the apprenticeship scheme:
“The apprenticeship is simply the best way of qualifying, progressing through education whilst simultaneously gaining invaluable workplace experience is the perfect foundation to start my career. It is by no means a breeze, there is a lot of work involved but I feel equipped to step into the role of a solicitor.”