It was recently announced that Leeds firm Gordons has launched an apprenticeship scheme that will enable five successful applicants per year to become legal practitioners without going to university.
The four-year programme, starting in September, is aimed at students who have completed their A-Levels and who would otherwise find it difficult to enter the legal profession.
Gordons will fund the scheme for the apprentices to go on a course run by the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX), and will pay them salaries. The students will become trained legal executives, and will later have the opportunity to take a conversion course and qualify as solicitors.
Whilst it is well known that the route into the legal profession is via university, will the ever-rising cost of a university education attract more students to look at alternative routes such as this one?
One thing to remember is that this route is not new. There are around 22,000 legal executives working in the UK today. What has been difficult for them however, is the perception that legal executives are somehow less qualified, and less able, because they took a different route into the law.
In actual fact, someone that has worked their way through the ILEX route, in a firm that is supportive and gives them the same work as an equivalent trainee solicitor, would actually have more hands-on experience upon qualification. We work with a lot of experienced legal executives and their experience is often identical to their solicitor counterparts, and just as highly sought after.
For a variety of reasons, not all intelligent and motivated 18 year olds are able to go university and qualify as a solicitor in the traditional way, so the ILEX route enables you to earn a salary and train at the same time. Whether Gordons packaging it as an apprenticeship will make a difference, only time will tell. But what is good is that they are actively looking to widen their talent pool and commit time, money and resources to teenagers who may not otherwise have this opportunity.
Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow @amyjanebullock on Twitter to discuss further.