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Solicitor apprenticeships are proving a success story

February 14, 2023

Solicitor apprenticeships are proving a success story

With last week being National Apprenticeship Week, the spotlight shined on how well this new route into the legal profession is now developing.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) revealed that when it comes to sitting the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), candidates who have followed the apprenticeship route are actually performing better than others.

In the first year of the new exam (September 2021 – August 2022), more than 100 apprentices took the SQE across three assessment sittings. The SRA said that apprentice pass rates were on average 29% higher than the overall pass rate. While it noted that the sample size was relatively small, the regulator said that the mix of classroom and practical workplace learning seemed to be preparing apprentices well for the SQE.

So far 21 apprentices have qualified as solicitors since the SQE was introduced in September 2021, and there are more than 1,300 solicitor apprentices going through the programme in England.

The beauty of apprenticeships is that they open up the law to many people who would not otherwise contemplate a legal career – because of financial barriers, or because they do not feel that going away to university is right the right choice for them.

The apprenticeship, which is generally aimed at school leavers, gives aspiring solicitors in England the chance to ‘learn as they earn’, taking five or six years to complete, and gaining a law degree along the way, with their training and exam costs all covered by their employer. The list of law firms offering this option is growing; and some in-house apprenticeships are also available – with ITV being the most high-profile example.

Competition for a solicitor apprenticeships is extremely fierce – and just as intense as for the more traditional trainee solicitor route. With such financial advantages, it is easy to see why. And any notion that the apprenticeship is somehow an ‘inferior’ pathway compared to traditional routes, is blown away by the runaway success of apprentices in the SQE exam, as outlined above.

The legal profession is actively seeking ways to make itself more diverse and more representative of society. Solicitor apprenticeships are a great opportunity to achieve that aim. If your law firm isn’t offering them yet – why not?


February 14, 2023

Insights