• Legal Apprenticeships

    The shape of legal training
    has changed
  • The legal sector is changing rapidly and the need for rigorous, relevant and business-focused legal education and training has never been greater. The development of a suite of new employer-designed “trailblazer” apprenticeships means that, for the first time, there is a comprehensive range of Government backed vocational qualifications for the sector. These changes, together with the forthcoming apprenticeship levy (a 0.5% payroll tax for larger employers) mean that interest in apprenticeships in law will continue to rise.

    The new apprenticeships offer employers and individuals a range of tailored options, all of which develop individuals’ wider business skills as well as their legal and job-specific knowledge. It is now possible for talented future lawyers to take an apprenticeship route all the way from leaving school to qualification as a solicitor, without incurring any student debt.

    ULaw partners with Damar Training , a long established apprenticeship provider and pioneer in the development and delivery of legal apprenticeships. Together, the partners have unparalleled experience across the full spectrum of vocational legal education and a proven track record of partnering with employers to deliver well supported progressive apprenticeship programmes.

    What does the legal apprenticeship pathway look like?

    Each apprentice’s journey is tailored according to their prior qualifications, their employer’s needs and their own ambition and ability.

    The pathway caters for apprentices working at (or towards) three broad levels. Each of these three strands can be followed in isolation or, for apprentices who progress between roles, they can be linked.

    1. Solicitor

    A six to seven year programme for post-A level students; the period of study is shorter for graduates or apprentices progressing from the other legal apprenticeships. This apprenticeship includes substantially all of the content in a law degree and the existing legal practice course and students have the opportunity to achieve an LL.B (Law Degree) and an LL.M (Masters). Students will also complete the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s new centralised assessment. Provided they also meet the SRA’s character and suitability tests, they will qualify as a solicitor without the need for a further two year training contract.

    2. Legal Technician

    A two to three year programme for post-A level or exceptional post-GCSE students. Depending on individual needs, apprentices will follow either the paralegal apprenticeship or the advanced or higher apprenticeship in legal services. The study programme includes units accredited by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives or undergraduate modules from the University of Law’s LLB programme. There is also job-specific training and assessment that covers relevant law, practice and business skills.

    These apprenticeships are suitable for apprentices in roles where they will be managing aspects of case files, conducting legal research and some drafting in addition to carrying out administrative work.

    3. Legal Support

    A twelve to eighteen month programme for post-GCSE students or post-A level students. Apprentices complete the City & Guilds apprenticeship in legal administration at intermediate or advanced level. These apprenticeships are ideal for those working in administrative, secretarial or support roles. The content ensures that students develop the skills needed to provide excellent administrative support within a legal services environment. They also learn about the English legal system including, if appropriate, about the practice area in which their firm or team specialises.

    For many apprentices, their journey will include more than one apprenticeship. They may, for example, complete the paralegal apprenticeship followed by the solicitor apprenticeship. This mirrors the academic route which is also divided into different periods of learning.

    There are other apprenticeships that are suitable for non-legal roles in law firms (business administration and accountancy for example) as well as specialist pathways for Chartered Legal Executives, conveyancers and probate practitioners.

    Flexible Study

    Apprenticeships are different from traditional academic courses in a number of ways. Arguably they are more challenging because apprentices have not only to demonstrate their knowledge, but also need to prove that they can apply their knowledge and skills in the workplace.

    Much of the study takes place at work via 1:1 or small group tutorials and online. As apprentices progress there is more selfdirected study and a seminar programme delivered at ULaw centres and via webinar.

    Who can become an Apprentice?

    Whilst anyone in an appropriate role and with an identified development need can become an apprentice, Government funding is largely restricted to full-time employees based in England who do not have qualifications higher than A level or (for the Solicitor apprenticeship only) who are qualified to degree level but have not completed the LPC.

    Apprentices can be new or existing staff. Many firms are looking at apprenticeships to upskill existing paralegals who have the potential to become solicitors.

    Cost

    Apprenticeship funding is changing and the new “trailblazer” apprenticeship standards (e.g., the solicitor and paralegal apprenticeships) are funded slightly differently from existing apprenticeship frameworks.

    Currently:

    • For trailblazer apprenticeships, the employer pays 1/3 of the cost. Additional incentives (for under 19s, on completion and for small employers) means that much of this can be recouped, particularly for young apprentices.
    • For apprenticeship frameworks, there is no cost to employers if the apprentice is under 19 on enrolment. For older apprentices, the employer contributes about 1/3 of the cost.
    • For starts from April 2017, the Government’s new digital voucher system (largely funded by the apprenticeship levy) will be the primary funding mechanism and, for larger employers, all of the cost will be met from their levy contribution (set at 0.5% of total UK payroll).
    • There are no employer NI contributions for apprentices aged under 25.

    • Employers are always responsible for their apprentices’ salaries but these can be set at a level that reflects the investment being made.

    Benefits to the Apprentice

    • No cost and so no student debt for the training within the apprenticeship standard or framework.

    • An opportunity to put learning into practice immediately.

    • A route to a law degree and qualification without needing to secure a training contract.

    • The support of a leading apprenticeship provider and the UK’s leading law school.

    Benefits to the Business

    • A way to recruit the best talent, sooner.

    • Relevant training, tailored to the employer’s needs, delivered by experts.

    • Increase staff retention and commitment.

    • A way to develop the skills of existing colleagues.

    • Government funding support.

    • Reinforces an employer’s commitment to social responsibility.

    For more information on apprenticeships available through ULaw please contact us: apprenticeships@law.ac.uk