8 February 2011

Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes

As National Apprenticeship Week 2011 continues the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is reminding everyone that apprenticeships are often in the most unlikely of places. You can even ‘earn as you learn’ while studying law.

According to UCAS figures, whilst over 115,000 university applicants applied to study law in 2010, only 20% were accepted, leaving more than 95,000 ambitious people wondering what to do next. This clearly shows there is a genuine need for aspiring lawyers to seek apprentice-style learning to achieve the career they want.

Those that have taken the ‘legal apprentice’ route have nothing but praise for the option. Kate Smith, 20, currently works in the Personal Injury department at Kenneth Bush Solicitors in Norfolk. Although given little information about any options other than University, Kate found that there were other avenues available: “I thought my dreams of a career in law were over, but then I found the ILEX route into law and it turns out not getting into university was a blessing in disguise.

“Already I am earning money by working at a law firm and am a valued member of the team. The studies can be hard, as you’d expect, but they are funded by my employer and I am due to finish my first stage of ILEX exams in June 2011, following which I will be commencing my second and final stage of ILEX qualifications. After having passed Level 6 and completing two years of qualifying employment I will be a fully qualified lawyer and be able to use the title Legal Executive. This is in addition to the two and a half years I have already been working at Kenneth Bush Solicitors so far, gaining vast amounts of experience to support my academic knowledge.

“At College we were led to believe that the only natural step after A-Levels was University, especially if we wanted to be become something like a lawyer. But that simply isn’t true, and there are other options out there that can often be better for individuals than the more traditional routes.”

Figures already released this year show that ILEX is increasingly being seen as a viable option to gaining qualifications in law:

  • There has been a 40 per cent increase (from 2009 – 2010) in the number of exams being taken for the Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice, which is the first stage of ILEX exams and equivalent to A-Level standard
  • 77% of ILEX students have their membership fees paid by their employers
  • 60% of ILEX students have all their course and exam fees paid for by their employers.

Chief Executive of ILEX, Diane Burleigh, said: “Going to university is not the only route to getting the career you want. ILEX offers aspiring lawyers the chance of an alternative apprentice route to get qualified whilst working in the legal sector. The practical business and client care skills they pick up whilst working are highly valued by employers, and so their career prospects are just as good as those who graduate from university. We even hold our own graduation ceremony so that family and friends can share in the proud moment.”