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Law Apprenticeships Guide

Career paths

updated on 24 August 2023

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.

For the most up-to-date version of this diagram, check out The Law Apprenticeship Guide.


The foundation and 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 (including English and maths) graded 9 to 4 (A to C) or equivalent. Apprentices 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 and can lead to qualification as a solicitor via a solicitor apprenticeship. It’s also possible 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 and commercial skills, and professional conduct. All solicitor apprentices are required to pass the SQE. The apprenticeships include preparation and training for the assessments.

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

Graduate solicitor apprenticeship

The graduate solicitor apprenticeship is a new addition to the growing ways to qualify as a solicitor. It’s designed for candidates with a qualifying law degree (or equivalent qualification) or non-law graduates who’ve completed a conversion course, and can take between two to three years to complete. It works in a similar way to the traditional training contract with on-the-job training and SQE preparation. Graduate solicitor apprentices must pass the SQE assessments to qualify.

Find out more about the difference between solicitor and graduate apprenticeships in this LCN Says


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 almost always for lower pay. Whether you become a paralegal through an apprenticeship or secure a paralegal job after graduating from university, you can qualify as a solicitor, legal executive or a more senior paralegal role.

CILEX chartered legal executive

A legal executive is another type of lawyer who’s trained to specialise as an expert in one area of law. Within that specialism, the job of a legal executive is similar to that of a solicitor – they advise clients, draft documents and conduct research to find solutions.


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 different areas of law, but the fundamentals of the job are largely the same. These include advising clients on 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.