updated on 15 January 2018
Confused about legal apprenticeships? With the simple career timetable below, there's no need to be! Just hover over the map to reveal an outline of each stage in the process.
The foundation of your career and the essential first step – good grades are vital if you want to progress in your legal career.
The academic stage between GCSE and university or the beginning of a paralegal/solicitor apprenticeship. Again, good grades are essential.
The intermediate apprenticeship is aimed at school leavers who have not done A levels. Entry requirements are five GCSEs graded 9-4 (A* to C) or equivalent. Apprentices will develop skills to assist in the progression of cases on an administrative level. It is usually a 15-21 month course.
The paralegal apprenticeship delivers paralegal training in a particular legal practice area. Entry requirements are five GCSEs graded 9-4 (A* to C) and three A levels graded C or above (or equivalent). It is a 24-month course. It can lead on to further training via the solicitor apprenticeship route to qualify as a solicitor. It is also possible to go on to qualify as a chartered legal executive, although smaller numbers of paralegals take this route.
The solicitor apprenticeship is a six-year programme of paid, on-the-job training which ends in qualification as a solicitor. The entry requirements are five GCSEs graded 9-4 (A* to C) and three A levels, usually graded B or above (or equivalent work experience) – although minimum grade requirements may vary. The apprenticeship also integrates a law degree, which is 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.
Paralegals have traditionally worked alongside solicitors in law firms as support staff, although 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 is possible to progress onto qualifying as a solicitor, legal executive or a more senior paralegal role.
Solicitors provide advice and assistance on legal matters. They are the first point of contact for people and organisations (eg, companies and charities) 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 meeting and 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.
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 area of law, 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.