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Changes in legal qualifications and apprenticeships

Posted by
27 Jun 2017
PC holding I recently read an article on the Local Government Lawyer entitled “Number of local government solicitors falls for second year: Law Society”. It highlighted that the number of solicitors within local government had fallen slightly for the second year in a row, according to the Law Society. The number solicitors with practising certificates (PC) within local government made up 3.3 percent of PC holders as a whole.  

So why the decrease in PC holding solicitors?
As an experienced recruiter for the public sector, over the past five years, we have seen a slight shift in the way legal candidates are qualifying. We have seen an increase in candidates who are CILEX qualified and choosing the CILEX route (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives). This route allows candidates to work in a full-time role and practically apply their knowledge day-to-day. We find paralegal/legal officer roles in local government are becoming more hands on and candidates are dealing with their own caseloads. It also cuts the costs of doing the traditional LPC or BPTC and skips the competitive task of securing a training contract. Especially when training contracts are becoming more and more difficult to secure!

The legal team here at Sellick Partnership have noticed that candidates are choosing locuming as a means to gain invaluable experience contract-to-contract whilst building their legal career. This gives them a great grounding for when they become qualified and we find they secure lawyer roles very quickly due to the experience gained. Training contracts can sometimes be limiting and some firms do not necessarily let you have hands on casework experience. With the demand in local government and funding being squeezed, there is limited time available to train solicitors and clients are demanding experience in the chosen field – experience being key! This demonstrates that the CILEX route may be the way forward if you are thinking ahead for your legal career!

However, even though private practice remains the main route for those qualifying as solicitors, we have seen an increase in the number of local government training contracts this year, with local authorities offering up to five per council. Some law firms start their recruitment process early for training contracts or apprenticeships and candidates can secure training contracts up to three years in advance so make sure you start your search early!

The Apprenticeship Levy may also impact those looking to move into the legal sector. The Levy was introduced in April 2017 and enables employers to reclaim tax from their payrolls in order to fund apprenticeships and is aimed to encourage more businesses to launch their own schemes. Once again, experience is critical for those looking kick start their legal careers and for candidates who may not have the relevant qualifications in the first instance. Sally Swift, Legal Services Manager at Browne Jacobson quoted in the Times that apprenticeships should strengthen this year and become an alternative route to become a solicitor, or even a judge.
For further information about our current legal roles in the public sector, please email or browse through our latest roles. Browse Roles

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