The government has approved new standards that will allow apprentices to progress to fully qualified solicitor status.
The current system of Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) accredited apprenticeships allows school-leavers to qualify as chartered legal executives, with the option of cross-qualifying as solicitors. The new government-approved ‘trailblazer’ standards will allow apprentices to directly qualify as solicitors, paralegals or chartered legal executives whilst working with their participating employers. Apprentices will be judged by a number of competencies defining the levels that they must achieve by the end of the apprenticeship. These new standards will be introduced in 2017. The second stage of the consultation is to create a curriculum and assessment process to judge the ‘trailblazer’ standards.
The government’s approval of these standards is likely to increase diversity and social mobility in the legal profession. Offering another non-traditional route into the profession will widen the pool of talent that firms can recruit from and allow aspiring solicitors to bypass significant university fees and education. Last month the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced a ‘period of recognised training’ as an alternative to training contracts, increasing the number of available routes to qualification as a solicitor. The combination of these announcements indicates the recognition of the comparative suitability of work-based learning.
A number of firms have been involved in the consultation process with the government to create this new route to qualification. Firms such as Addleshaw Goddard (who chaired the committee of ‘trailblazer’ employers), along with Eversheds, Simmons & Simmons and Mayer Brown have assisted with the development of these new standards. In-house lawyers from Barclays and RBS have also been involved in the consultation process. A full list of participating firms is provided below:
Clyde & Co
Simmons & Simmons
Thomas Eggar Withers