If you have had dreams of being a lawyer, but were put off by the stiff competition and huge expense of gaining a place to study law at uni, the latest apprenticeship scheme could be just up your street.
Set up by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), in conjunction with Skills for Justice (Legal Services Sector Skills Council), the Level 4 Apprenticeship in Legal Services is available to anyone living in England, over 16 years old and not in full time education. It is the equivalent of the first year of a university degree and could provide a springboard to qualification as a lawyer, further down the line.
Apprenticeships are a combination of on the- job training and nationally-recognised qualifications. Apprenticeships are flexible and designed to offer a structured programme to fit around both your needs and those of your employer. Being a legal apprentice means you will be employed for at least 30 hours per week, usually in a law firm or a legal department of a large company.
Learning takes place in your workplace during employment, and you’ll be gaining ‘on the job’ skills. However there is a more formal training element which usually takes place at a local college or a specialist training centre, or through distance learning through providers, such as www.cilexlawschool.ac.uk. This training is usually done on day release or over a number of days in a block, and leads to a nationally recognised qualification, such as those provided by CILEx.
Funding varies according to age and whether you are based in England or Wales. As a 16 – 18 year old apprentice, your course will be fully paid for by the government, plus you will be paid a minimum of £2.60 per hour in your first year, probably more. If you are 19 years or older, you will be paid at least the minimum wage.
There will be 750 places available this year throughout England, to study law this way. Whilst the scheme has no set entry requirements, firms are likely to ask for good GCSE’s in maths and English as a minimum requirement.
Apprenticeship training lasts between 24 – 30 months, whilst some apprentices might have exemptions from training if they are already working within a legal environment 19 year old Madison O’Callaghan is a Legal Business Administration apprentice at London’s Hillingdon Council. Before starting her apprenticeship, she was worried about getting work , as she’d only had a series of weekend jobs whilst she was at school. Without A levels, she had found it quite hard to find a job with a good career path, but has found her feet through working within a law firm on a two year CILEx legal apprenticeship. Rather than the scary world of law she imagined from the outside, she has found that lawyers are busy
but friendly, welcoming and very patient.
“One of the benefits of the CILEx route is that it’s accessible to all, so there aren’t any specific qualifications needed prior to this apprenticeship,” says Madison.