Whether a school leaver or graduate, you can now join a law firm without going to the university and spending money on a law degree. Instead, you can opt for one of solicitor apprenticeships that combine paid legal practice and part-time study. Law firms offering apprenticeships provide apprentices with on-the-job training, and pay for their part-time study for professional qualifications. There are different types of apprenticeships in law to choose from: paralegal apprenticeship, solicitor degree apprenticeship, graduate solicitor apprenticeship, or chartered legal executive apprenticeship.
Law apprenticeships UK: 2022 SQE results
Professional competence of candidates with law apprenticeships appears higher compared to other candidates holding no legal apprenticeships.
Let’s look at available 2022 SQE results — combined for SQE1 and SQE2, held in April and July 2022. While the first attempt pass rate for all candidates was 66%, those with apprenticeships in law showed a 22% better result with a 88% pass rate.
No wonder solicitor apprenticeships have been gaining in popularity since the introduction of this alternative route to qualifying as a solicitor in 2015. If you are pursuing the route of law apprenticeships, you are benefiting from a unique blend of:
- professional skills gained while working at law firms offering apprenticeships, and
- legal knowledge built up while studying part-time.
Clearly, this blend of legal knowledge and skills can assist you with building a career in law. In addition, it can help you qualify as a solicitor through the SQE graduate apprenticeship or SQE solicitor apprenticeship routes. Extra guidance to facilitate your transition from the SQE apprenticeship to becoming a qualified solicitor is offered by OSCEsmart. The provider is run by practising lawyers who themselves have successfully passed the qualifying law exams.
The make-up of lawyer apprenticeship
In terms of skills, both solicitor apprenticeships and graduate solicitor apprenticeships involve 3-4 days of legal practice a week. This practical work counts as the qualifying work experience (QWE) when qualifying through the SQE route. As for knowledge, apprenticeships in law presuppose allocating 20% of your time (commonly one day a week) to studying at a law school. These studies bring you a qualifying law degree (LLB/LLB Hons) plus the SQE, or the SQE or LPC. With an approach like this, apprenticeships for law professionals combine the advantages of part-time studies for law degrees with the benefits of a training contract — extended however for six years instead of two.
Very importantly from the viewpoint of affordability, the costs involved in the studies and assessments of candidates in the apprenticeship programme are covered by the hosting law firms. This means more affordable and time-saving opportunities in the legal sector available to the broader public, including school leavers and non-law degree holders. Upon receiving the apprenticeship offered, it’s time to slowly start your SQE preparation. Each of them has distinct entry requirements.
Solicitor apprenticeships: 2024 SQE prep from OSCEsmart
For the purposes of the SQE apprenticeship candidates only need to study the exam methodology, revise the knowledge and update the skills accumulated by the end of their legal apprenticeship. All of these opportunities are offered by OSCEsmart and have been designed specifically for the needs of the UK law apprentices who look to qualify as a solicitor of England and Wales.
OSCEsmart law tutors are all practising solicitors representing various areas in the legal sector. They understand the value of learning experientially and socially, learning by doing and by reflecting on the experience. Building on the strengths of candidates with solicitor apprenticeships and solicitor graduate apprenticeships, OSCEsmart SQE course starts with interactive online lectures. The SQE1 lectures facilitate revising and structuring the legal knowledge accumulated by candidates throughout their lawyer apprenticeship. It is then put to the test through exam-format multiple-choice questions to be soon available in the law apprentice’s account on the Superexam platform.
For a successful preparation for Part 2 of the SQE assessment, let’s
- take the training delivered through your apprenticeship programme,
- add to it the knowledge gained in the course of SQE 1 preparation for solicitor apprentices, and
- enhance the skill component of your legal competence through individual mocks with personalised feedback. The practical one-to-one simulations are offered by OSCEsmart in all the SQE2 practice areas: dispute resolution, criminal litigation, business law, property law and probate administration. Each one-to-one mock includes individual feedback and tutors’ suggestions. Attendance notes are handwritten, scanned and uploaded to the Superexam platform that can be installed on your phone.
Embracing your uniqueness: smart choices with legal apprenticeship
At the same time, there’s no denying that an apprenticeship solicitor-to-be hardly needs a full package service. This applies to any SQE training provider, be it a uni with a large student population like BPP university, or a niche training provider like OSCEsmart catering to individual needs of solicitor apprentices. Candidates with law degree apprenticeships may approach their SQE preparation selectively, focusing on the practice areas, topics and skills beyond the work experience obtained as part of their law firm apprenticeships.
Law firms offering apprenticeships do not require seat rotations as is the case with a training contract. Without a seat rotation structure, solicitor apprentices may spend most of their lawyer apprenticeship training practising in one or two areas of law. Skills, too, can be picked up and internalised at a different rate, depending on the positions the candidates are put in by law firms offering apprenticeships. In client-facing positions, legal apprentices tend to develop good client care and communication skills that are crucial in a client interview and perhaps advocacy. Therefore, in order to qualify as a solicitor through the SQE, they may choose to include in their SQE preparation individually marked written mocks.
Legal research, legal writing, and legal drafting are all highly advised to law apprenticeships UK candidates.
A selective approach like this allows law apprenticeship candidates to save costs and fund the SQE without compromising the overall quality of preparation. Besides, there are time-tested benefits to supplementing theoretical SQE prep packages (from providers like BPP university, etc.) with add-on practical services. Such personalised practice puts legal apprenticeship candidates in real exam conditions, tests their solicitor competence and enriches them with tips from those already qualified as a solicitor.
So as you can see, there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to preparing for the SQE and qualifying as a solicitor. The two constants here are building up legal knowledge and developing practical legal skills. These hold for everyone with a legal professional qualification from abroad, an LPC degree, a non-law or law degree, or a legal apprenticeship. At the same time, there are lots of variables involved — legal work experience, areas of law and skills practised over the course of solicitor degree apprenticeships. With all the variables, it is important to ensure the best fit, and enrol on an individually tailored training programme. OSCEsmart offers exactly that — a differentiated approach seeking to maximise the potential of each SQE candidate, including those with apprenticeships in law.