How do legal apprenticeships work?

Julianna Barker joined national law firm Stone King in September 2018 as a legal assistant in the Immigration and Employment teams, before embarking on a three-year apprenticeship to become a newly qualified lawyer. Here she explains her journey so far.

How has your apprenticeship come about?

I applied to Stone King knowing that an apprenticeship was part of the role. After a successful interview, I discussed completing CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) with the HR team. Due to having a qualifying law degree I was able to start on Level 6, which is the last academic stage in order to become a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer. Stone King were very encouraging of the apprenticeship and made sure that my position allowed me to complete the required employment experience for the qualification, they also recognised my training by changing my job title to Apprentice Legal Executive.

What does it involve?

I have a dedicated tutor who provides general support with the programme and access to technical content such as webinars with subject experts and E-workshops with specific course tutors. The course involves both coursework and exams, which I manage alongside my work in the immigration and employment teams. Stone King has been very supportive with the apprenticeship, enabling me to have regular time dedicated to my apprenticeship work. On completion of the apprenticeship, I will be a fully competent, newly qualified lawyer.

Why did you choose this route / law?

The benefits of this route are that you do not need the LPC or a training contract, which usually involves rotating between different teams and specialisms, to become a qualified lawyer. So long as you are working within the recognised CILEx practice area completing qualifying employment, you can undertake the apprenticeship. I already know that I want to work within the employment and immigration sectors, I can therefore continue gaining relevant experience and expertise in areas I enjoy whilst also completing my studies to become qualified.

What advice would you give someone considering a legal apprenticeship?

So long as you have qualifying employment, it is possible to complete the apprenticeship independently. However, working for a supportive firm that recognises the importance of allowing you time to complete the apprenticeship makes undertaking the course much more manageable, especially if it will be taking you at least three years. Furthermore, when completing the portfolio, having a supportive manager who can sign off legal work that you have undertaken and ensure you are given opportunities to complete such work is invaluable. Researching firms that offer the apprenticeship with the role is therefore highly recommended and if you are currently working for a firm and are interested in undertaking the qualification, you should definitely let your HR team know to see what they can do.

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