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Standardisation of legal apprenticeships could see qualification as solicitor

Legal apprenticeships are to be standardised as part of the second phase of the Government’s ‘Trailblazers’ scheme, a move expected to see the development of a legal apprenticeships programme which could for the first time lead to qualification as a solicitor.

The SRA said it would be working alongside law firms such as Addleshaw Goddard, Eversheds, Irwin Mitchell, Pinsent Masons and Wragge & Co as well as other bodies such as BPP, CILEx and the University of Law to develop the standards for ‘Apprentice Trainee Solicitor’ and ‘Apprentice Trainee Lawyer’.

The legal apprenticeships are to be:

  • employer-led and designed “so they respond to the needs of the business, to ensure each apprentice has the skills required by the sector”;
  • focused on quality “so the apprentice has to demonstrate their ability through rigorous assessment at the end of their apprenticeship”;
  • graded on completion – pass, merit, or distinction – to mark the level of achievement.

The SRA insisted that solicitors who qualified through this route would have to demonstrate to it that they met the same standards as anyone who had come through more traditional paths to qualification.

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Julie Brannan, SRA Director of Education and Training, said: "We are delighted to be a part of the Trailblazers higher level legal apprenticeships scheme. It will provide a new way for school-leavers to benefit from education and training, to demonstrate they meet our high standards and to qualify as a solicitor."

The announcement was made as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives is currently the awarding body for the Level 3 Advanced and Level 4 Higher Apprenticeships in Legal Services which were launched in 2013.

Diane Burleigh, Chief Executive of CILEx said: “Being part of the Trailblazer project means that CILEx can ensure legal apprenticeships across the board meet the standards required for learners to become first-class legal professionals.

“CILEx has provided an apprenticeship-style route into law for more than 50 years and with the launch of our Apprenticeships in Legal Services we are fully equipped and committed to setting these industry standards.”

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