Back to overview

Law Apprenticeships Guide

Career paths

updated on 17 February 2022

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 of your legal career. 

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 graded 9 to 4 (A to C) or equivalent and must include English and maths. Apprentices will 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. It can lead on to further training via the solicitor apprenticeship route to qualify as a solicitor. It’s also possible to go on 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 skills, commercial skills and professional conduct. All solicitor apprentices are now required to pass the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). The apprenticeships include preparation and training, with the assessments incorporated throughout the apprenticeship. 

Find out more about being a solicitor apprentice with LCN's Meet the Apprentice interviews. 


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 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’s possible to progress onto qualifying as a solicitor, legal executive or a more senior paralegal role.

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 specialism, 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.


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 very different areas of law, but the fundamentals of the job remain largely the same. These include 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.