Apprenticeship FAQs

On this page, we’ve tried to answer the questions we hear most often about apprenticeships.

If you have a question that is not answered here do get in touch via email at apprentice.recruitment@cilexlawschool.ac.uk or give us a call on 01234 844 300.

Apprenticeships – essential information

You will need to apply to an organisation with an apprenticeship vacancy, as you would any other job. You will then go through a selection process, which can vary depending on the organisation, and, if successful, will then be offered the apprenticeship. Only when you have secured your apprenticeship will you be enrolled with CILEx Law School for your training.

  • Step 1. Apply for an apprenticeship vacancy
  • Step 2. Go through the recruitment process
  • Step 3. Receive an apprenticeship offer
  • Step 4. Enrol with CILEx Law School (this will be done through your employer)

Note: CILEx Law School does not hire the apprentices and is not involved in the candidate selection. We simply support our employer clients by advertising their vacancies and ensuring that chosen candidates meet the eligibility funding criteria.

Yes. The minimum requirements are as follows:

  • 3 Cs or above at A-level (for a Paralegal or Solicitor Apprenticeship)
  • 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C or 9-4 (for an Intermediate Apprenticeship)
  • You need to be UK or EEA citizen or have been a UK or EEA resident for at least 3 years
  • You will need to be 16 by the time you start your apprenticeship

Take our eligibility checker to see what your options are.

There are a whole range of benefits to doing an apprenticeship, including:

  • salary: this may not seem all that important now if your parents are supporting you, but getting a salary straight out of school can provide you with some level of financial freedom and independence. This could allow you to attain some of your goals: our apprentices say they were able to buy a car, plan a great holiday or set up a savings plan with a view to purchasing a property.
  • qualifications: all apprenticeships lead to the award of a qualification. The qualification will vary depending on the level of apprenticeship you are employed to follow, and ranges from a diploma in legal administration through to qualification as a solicitor. Find out about the apprenticeship programmes we offer.
  • work experience: when employers are surveyed to find out what they look for in young recruits, one thing that always features is experience and business awareness. With an apprenticeship, you can get a head start in your career by having hands-on experience in the workplace
  • training: an apprenticeship combines both real-world and further-education experience. You will learn the ins-and-outs of how an organisation works on a day-to-day basis and also learn the theory behind the tasks you undertake.
  • avoid debt: by doing an apprenticeship you can also avoid some of the burdens that come with university, such as bank overdrafts or student debt, which can run into tens of thousands of pounds. With university tuition and living costs going up, and students facing years of repayments once they do start working, an apprenticeship is a good way of dodging a long-term financial commitment. There are many other benefits besides these. Hear about them from some of our apprentices.

No.

An apprenticeship can be an alternative to university, but it does not have to be. On completion of an Intermediate or Paralegal Apprenticeship you still have the option to apply to university to study for a degree, unless, like with the Solicitor Apprenticeship, there is already one included. The advantage of having completed an apprenticeship first is that you will have gained some very valuable work experience which other undergraduates might lack.

Note: there may be implications regarding your eligibility for a student loan for university tuition fees and maintenance.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone if the content of the programme means that they will be learning a substantive new skill. So, if you have a degree in history, for example, you would be eligible to apply for any of the programmes we offer.

If you have a law degree, you are eligible to apply for the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship and would benefit from some exemptions because of the knowledge you have already gained in your degree. This is a particularly good option if you have a law degree and are already employed as a paralegal.

There is a National Minimum Apprenticeship Wage guaranteeing you a minimum salary, although most legal sector employers pay considerably more than this. Factors affecting the level of remuneration include the type of employer and geographical location. In London, paralegal apprentices are typically paid around £18,000 per annum and slightly less elsewhere. Our apprentice salary average for a Paralegal Apprenticeship is around £14,500.

This means you would be earning above the National Minimum Wage and be getting your training costs covered.

If you have done a Solicitor or Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship, you will have become a fully-qualified lawyer on completion.

There are two options for completers of Legal Administration or Paralegal apprenticeships: they can either progress to the next level of apprenticeship or move into the CILEx professional qualifications route (in the case of the Paralegal Apprenticeships with some exemptions). You can visit our apprenticeship programmes page for more information.

We would encourage you to keep checking our vacancies page and keep applying. If you do not receive any apprenticeship offers or do not meet the basic apprenticeship criteria you should consider doing the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice as an alternative entry point into the legal profession.

We would also recommend getting in touch with our team for further advice.

Prepare and apply

Preparation is vital if you really want to shine at your interview. While it might sound like stating the obvious, it is surprising how many interviewees don’t take even the most basic steps to prepare adequately for an interview. For example, ensure that you have researched the employer to find out about their work. Think too about the sorts of questions you might be asked.

If you are still at school then remember that evidence of many work-related skills can be found in your participation in school sports, voluntary work or weekend jobs.

Whenever employers hire a new employee, it involves an element of risk. Bad employees can be very disruptive for an employer and consume a lot of time that would be better spent on the business. Employers try to protect themselves: they only offer a job to someone they believe will be reliable, trustworthy, hard-working and competent. An interview is one way in which they will check a potential employee, but employers will sometimes also check social media too.

So while your profile on social media should reflect you and your interests, be wary of posting photos/videos or making comments that might suggest that an employer is taking a big risk in employing you.

What are apprenticeships like?

There are two aspects to an apprenticeship: employment experience and training.

You will be supervised at work by your day-to-day manager, and also receive support from a training manager within your organisation. They will be there to monitor your work and generally guide you during your apprenticeship.

Your academic training will be undertaken by CILEx Law School. We will also assess your progress in developing the workplace skills, or competences, to the standards required by the apprenticeship. You will receive regular visits from a CILEx Law School assessor at your place of work to assist you with your studies and to keep track of your progress.

The type of work you will do varies between employers and the level of apprenticeship. Some employers like their legal apprentices to specialise in one area of law, while others prefer them to gain experience in different departments. You can find some examples of tasks you might be expected to do on our apprenticeship pathways page.

In the Solicitor Apprenticeship programme there is a specific requirement for the learner to gain experience in two different departments.

What happens after I complete my apprenticeship?

Your contract will usually be a fixed-term contract for the duration of your apprenticeship, although some employers will offer an open-ended arrangement. Employment on a fixed term contract will often be converted into a permanent, full-time arrangement if the employer and apprentice work well together.

An apprenticeship is a minimum of 12 months.

Our experience is that the majority of our legal apprentices are kept on by their employers at the end of their apprenticeship. Others gain employment in other organisations within the legal sector.

If you complete the Paralegal Apprenticeship and are retained by your employer as a paralegal, you may be sponsored to study further to gain professional status as either a Chartered Legal Executive or solicitor. it is possible to transfer from the Paralegal Apprenticeships on to the later years of the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship, with exemptions being awarded for CILEx units already studied.

Making a choice – additional information

A big difference between going to university and doing an apprenticeship is that an apprentice learns while earning a salary, with no tuition costs. A university student, on the other hand, will need to pay tuition fees (usually £9,000 per year) as well as rent and living costs, with no income directly linked to their course to cover these. The government lends money to students to fund their tuition and to contribute towards their maintenance costs. This leaves the average undergraduate with debts estimated at upwards of £50,000 by the time they complete their course.

Apprentices do not need to repay their tuition costs.

People understandably confuse a legal apprenticeship and the CILEx professional qualification. Actually, there is a lot of similarity between them and the Paralegal Apprenticeship incorporates some of the CILEx qualification as one of its elements.

In this section we are using the term ‘apprenticeship’ to cover the programmes currently attracting government funding. It is necessary to gain employment for a specific vacancy offering one of these programmes to be able to choose this option. Conversely, you can enrol on our distance learning courses leading to CILEx qualifications at any time, although you will eventually need to obtain relevant employment if you wish to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.

Many apprentices employed by our client organisations are being sponsored by their employers to go on and complete the CILEx professional qualification or are progressing on to Chartered Legal Executive apprenticeships.

Comparing a legal apprenticeship with a law degree is not straightforward. There is value in both options. If you want to avoid debt, then being employed as an apprentice has its attractions. Typical debt levels of undergraduates are estimated at upwards of £50,000, which has to be repaid after you graduate. Often in the form of government loans, this debt will be paid off once the graduate is earning a salary between £18,000 and £25,000 depending on when you started your course.

The arguments in favour of university were more compelling when it was the exclusive route into a professional career. That situation is changing, with young people able to access a career in law as a Chartered Legal Executive or solicitor through the apprenticeship route (in fact, the Chartered Legal Executive route has been open to non-graduates for over 50 years).

There are non-monetary reasons for attending university: the social life and other activities that universities offer. But our apprentices tell us that their apprenticeship doesn’t prevent them from having a social life and their salary allows them to aspire to more (holidays, savings plan, car, etc).

It is also worth noting that the options are not mutually exclusive and you can go on to do a degree at university after completing a lower-level apprenticeship.

To become a solicitor through the traditional route can be very expensive.

law degree tuition (3 years)

+

Legal Practice Course (1 year)

+

cost of living i.e. rent, food, etc (4 years)

=

cost of ‘traditional uni route’ around £60,000

Another barrier to completing your qualification as a solicitor will be the availability of training contracts (now referred to as a period of recognised training). This is necessary work experience required to convert the student’s university training into professional solicitor status. While the number of LPC graduates and training contracts is about in balance, the LPC never expires, so there is a huge backlog of people in the workforce seeking training contracts. In fact, there are roughly three times more LPC graduates than there are training contracts!

If you go down the apprenticeship route, on the other hand, you are gaining work experience from day one and there are no training costs to you.

Hear from an apprentice

Listen to George talk about his apprenticeship experience at leading national law firm Browne Jacobson.