For law graduates not going on to the LPC or BPTC, a career as a professional paralegal is a real alternative. Being a paralegal is not the same as being a lawyer, but as doctors are supported by skilled nurses, so too solicitors are supported by skilled paralegals. And as with nurses, nowadays paralegals are becoming a recognised professional group in their own right.
CILEx is the professional body representing around 20,000 trainee and qualified chartered legal executive lawyers. Changes in legislation mean that chartered legal executive lawyers are increasingly on a level playing field with solicitors or barristers, as they can now become judges, advocates and partners in law firms.
There's no denying it – apprenticeships in the legal sector are gaining momentum. The traditional route to being a lawyer is being challenged by, among other things, the Legal Education and Training Review, the rise of legal executives, increasing paralegal numbers, and alternative business structures.