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Yet another route into the legal profession

18/10/2016
Posted by: Beth Simpson

Historically the only way into a top law firm was by graduating with a law degree – more than likely from an elite university – and spending two years completing a training contract. However, the new government-backed Trailblazer scheme looks set to challenge the traditional route to becoming a qualified solicitor by creating an entirely new pathway into the profession.

From school to the legal profession

The new school-leaver scheme, which combines part time qualifications with on the job paralegal level work, looks set to carve out a new route into the profession. While some can be completed in as little as two years, others will give students the opportunity to fully qualify as a solicitor in just six years. Unlike many elite institutions which require students to hold three A-levels at A’s or above, legal apprenticeships on the whole only require applicants to hold an average of three C’s. The lower entry requirements will undoubtedly open the door to students from more diverse backgrounds.

From apprentice to lawyer

Global firm, Eversheds, looks set to pioneer the six year apprenticeship, and are now taking applications for 2016 starters. The internationally renowned law firm, which ranks 15th in the UK in terms of revenue, has announced that it will take on eight apprentices in September, all of which will be offered positions with the firm upon qualification. Successful applicants will be paid a starting salary of £15,200 outside London and £17,200 in London, a figure which will increase year on year.

Other firms such as Clyde & Co are offering level 3 trailblazer apprenticeships across the practices in its London, Manchester and Guildford offices. The ‘earn-while-you-learn’ scheme will see apprentices become qualified paralegals in just two years. International law firm DWF also recently announced it would be offering the level three paralegal apprenticeships in its Manchester head office across the firm’s commercial and insurance teams.

The benefits of apprenticeships will undoubtedly be felt by both candidates and employers. Successful applicants will need to be dynamic, tenacious and committed, but in return will receive fully qualified solicitor status without accumulating any of the debt associated with a law degree. While practices are likely to benefit from the increased social diversity that offering a new route into the profession will bring with it.

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