If gaining hands-on work experience and earning a wage while you study sounds appealing, then consider a law apprenticeship. Find out what's on offer and discover whether a legal apprenticeship is the right path for you

Law apprenticeships exist in the form of government-backed, employer-designed 'trailblazer' schemes, which cater for apprentices working towards three broad levels: legal administration/support, paralegal or solicitor. There is also a specialist pathway to qualify as a chartered legal executive.

Each can be taken as a stand-alone apprenticeship or can be linked for those who want to progress between roles.

  • Set at GCSE level, CILEx Level 2 Diploma for Legal Secretaries teaches you about secretarial work in a legal environment, with a focus on either legal information processing or legal studies. An advanced, Level 3 (set at A-level) Certificate/Diploma for Legal Secretaries is also available.
  • The Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship takes two-years to complete. You'll get an introduction to law and practice, legal research and client care skills. Upon completion you can work towards the Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice (with exemptions) or the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship.
  • The Level 6 Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship takes five years to complete and is only available for apprentices who have completed the Paralegal pathway or those that have completed CILEx Level 3 qualifications. The scheme qualifies participants to work as chartered legal executives and provides exemptions from some units of the Solicitor Apprenticeship pathway.
  • The Solicitor Apprenticeship is a six-year, Level 7 degree apprenticeship programme aimed at post A-level students, paralegals and chartered legal executives. The period of study is reduced for those who progress from other legal apprenticeships. The scheme covers all the content in a law degree and enables apprentices to gain a law degree and LLM (Masters). Once you've completed the apprenticeship and passed the centralised Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) you'll qualify as solicitor. In order to qualify as a solicitor apprentices will sit parts one and two of the SQE. Stage one will form part of the on-programme assessment, while stage two will be the end-point assessment, which must be taken during the last six months of your apprenticeship.

Which firms offer apprenticeships?

This is not an exhaustive list, instead it's a sample of firms that run apprenticeship schemes. Please be aware that vacancies are not always available year-round. To find out whether an organisation you're interested in offers apprenticeships and is recruiting search their website. Learn more about top UK law firms.

Who are they aimed at?

The majority of law apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers or career changers seeking an alternative to university. However, some legal apprenticeships require you to have more than GCSEs or A-levels.

For example, the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship isn't recommended for school leavers; instead you'll need to have completed the Paralegal pathway or have completed CILEx Level 3 qualifications in legal services.

Individual law firms set their own entry requirements but the government's recommended minimum requirements for the majority of legal schemes are:

  • five GCSEs, including mathematics and English - grade 4 (C) or above (or equivalent)
  • three A-levels (or equivalent) - minimum grade C.


  • relevant employer-led work experience
  • Level 3 advanced apprenticeship in a relevant role - business administration, legal services, providing financial services
  • Level 4 higher apprenticeship in a relevant job - legal services, professional services, and providing financial services (may be entitled to exemptions from training)
  • paralegal apprenticeship (may be entitled to exemptions from training)
  • legal executive apprenticeship (may be entitled to exemptions from training)
  • law degree/Graduate Diploma in Law/Legal Practice Course (entitled to exemptions from training).

Research your chosen apprenticeship pathway carefully and contact potential employers to check that you have the qualifications to gain a place on the scheme.

What do law apprenticeships involve?

This largely depends on which apprenticeship pathway you take. Most schemes enable you to carry out paid employment in a law firm or an in-house legal team while gaining professional qualifications. You'll typically work 30 hours per week under the supervision of a mentor.

Those training for the Level 3 Intermediate Apprenticeship in Legal Administration will study a number of mandatory and optional units, alongside carrying out duties outlined by their employer. Units include:

  • communication in the business environment
  • proofreading in the legal environment
  • working in the legal environment
  • legal text processing
  • taking minutes in meetings
  • providing reception services
  • family law
  • principles of criminal liability and conveyancing.

If you take the Paralegal Apprenticeship, you'll carry out tasks such as managing data and records, drafting legal documents and client correspondence, carrying out legal research, attending court hearings where appropriate, handling sensitive information and communicating with internal and external clients.

'The Solicitor Apprenticeship involves completing a law degree, the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE) and working at the same time in either a law firm or with an in-house legal team,' says Katherine Sharp, early careers manager at Dentons. 'If you join a law firm, you will typically rotate through different practice areas and may have the opportunity to go on a client or international secondment for six months. You might be involved in drafting documents, meeting with clients, researching legal cases or writing court documents.'

How much will I be paid?

All apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which as of April 2023 stands at £5.28 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year.

Apprentices who have completed their first year and are aged 19 or over are entitled to the NMW for their age range.

However, the majority of legal employers often pay their apprentices considerably more than the NMW so don't let the idea of low pay put you off. Some firms also offer benefits such as childcare vouchers, private medical cover, pension contributions and discounted travel schemes.

'Salaries for apprentice solicitors vary from firm to firm and depend on where you are located in the country,' explains Katherine. 'In London, salaries are in the regions of £24,000-£27,000, while outside London they may be £16,000-£22,000. The good thing is that your salary will usually increase annually and you'll incur no university debt.'

For example, Charles Russell Speechlys pays a starting salary of £25,000 to apprentices on their solicitor scheme in London and £23,000 for those in Guildford. CMS apprentices in London earn a starting salary of £25,000 (£22,000 in Bristol and £21,000 in Sheffield and Manchester), while Irwin Mitchell pay their apprentices a starting salary of £21,740 in London and £19,838 elsewhere.

Will I qualify as a solicitor?

This depends on which apprenticeship pathway you complete.

The Paralegal pathway and Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services don't qualify you to work as a solicitor, although it may be possible upon completing these apprenticeships to carry out further study and training (such as the solicitor apprenticeship) to qualify in this role.

The only direct route to qualifying as a solicitor through an apprenticeship is by completing the Solicitor pathway.

How do I apply?

Competition among school leavers for legal apprenticeships is fierce so make sure that you research the firms you're applying to in order to tailor your application. Vacancies usually coincide with the end of the academic school year.

Application procedures vary between employers but typically require you to submit a CV and cover letter directly to the firm. For some vacancies you may need to fill out an application form. Read the job advert carefully to ensure you meet any additional application requirements. Find out more about applying for an apprenticeship and take a look at our apprenticeship cover letter example.

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