Costs lawyer apprenticeship on the horizon

updated on 28 February 2024

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Browne Jacobson LLP and the Governmental Legal Department (GLD) are among the 16 organisations that have come together to develop a new Level 6 legal apprenticeship – the costs lawyer apprenticeship. Final approval of the scheme is expected in the summer, according to the Association of Costs Lawyers’ (ACL) training arm.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has already accepted the need for the costs lawyer apprenticeship. It's now reviewing a draft occupation standard, which has been put together by the costs lawyer apprenticeship employer trailblazer group. The Department for Education will have final sign-off of the scheme.

The apprenticeship will take three years to complete. It will involve one study day each week, plus on-the-job training to build up the required qualifying work experience to qualify as a regulated costs lawyer. It’s also expected that the apprenticeship levy will be available for both large and small employers offering the scheme.

The trailblazer group working on the apprenticeship came together following a call for interest from ACL Training and is made up of 16 employers. Meetings began in September 2023 with both the ACL and the Costs Lawyer Standards Board strongly supporting the apprenticeship’s development as it’ll open up careers in costs to school leavers, as well as another alternative route into the profession.

The group’s chair and head of costs delivery at Irwin Mitchell LLP, Paula Walkden, said: “Many people working in costs got there through a circuitous route that started elsewhere in the law. We want to promote the benefits of costs as a career so that we can tap into talent at an earlier opportunity and focus their training on costs.

“At Irwin Mitchell, we’ve found that school students who have work experience in the costs team then ask if an apprenticeship is available. It’ll be great when we can say it is.”

In addition to the GLD, the group’s members are made up of the following six specialist costs firms and nine solicitors’ firms:

Madeleine Jenness, head of education at ACL Training, said: “ACL Training sees opening up more routes to becoming a Costs Lawyer as core to our purpose and the apprenticeship will raise awareness of costs lawyering to a younger audience.” However, Jenness also recognises that apprenticeships aren’t “right for every person or every firm” so there’ll still be demand for, and reason to access, the Costs Lawyer Qualification outside of an apprenticeship.