Frequently Asked Questions

Legal Apprenticeships – Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to your Apprenticeship questions fast:

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships give you amazing opportunity to combine work and learning by blending on-the-job training with off-site study. Apprenticeships are flexible and are designed to offer a structured programme of learning to fit around the needs of the individual and the employer.

During an apprenticeship, you’ll be employed while studying, usually for one day a week or over a number of days. By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll have gained the competence (skills, knowledge and experience) needed to succeed in your chosen career and/or progress onto further study.

Who are CILEX?

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) is the professional association and governing body for Chartered Legal Executive lawyers, other legal practitioners and paralegals. Our role is to enhance the role and standing of Chartered Legal Executives and all our members within the legal profession. 

For over 50 years, we have been offering unparalleled access to a flexible career in law. We work closely with Government and the Ministry of Justice and are recognised as one of the three core regulators of the legal profession.

What part does CILEX play in apprenticeships? 

CILEX has been approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as an End-Point Assessment Organisation for the following Apprenticeship Standards in Law:

  • Paralegal (Level 3)
  • Chartered Legal Executive (Level 6)

Currently, these apprenticeships are only available in England. Please contact us directly if you are interested in apprenticeships in Wales.

Apprenticeships start with you applying for an apprenticeship vacancy within an organisation, so you will first need to find a legal services provider that is offering the apprenticeship you are looking for. There are a few ways in which you can look for job vacancies:

  • CILEX Recruitment – We advertise employers seeking apprentices on our website. Click here to see what positions are currently available.
  • The Lawyer Portal – CILEX has teamed up with The Lawyer Portal (TLP) which offers a wealth of resources and guides for anyone considering a career in law, whatever their prior experience or background.

  • The Government search engine – Using this search engine, you can see all apprenticeships local to you (including legal apprenticeships). You are also able to set up alerts to notify you of any new apprenticeships that become available.

  • Direct applications – You may already have an employer in mind or know of a vacancy. There is no rule against approaching employers directly, as long as it is done in a professional manner. Our MyCareer  service can help you to tailor your CV and covering letter to give you the best chance at success.

  • Careers Advice Services – Your school, college, university or local job centre may be able to provide you with advice and point you in the direction of a vacancy.
  • Training Provider websites – Many Training Providers will advertise vacancies on behalf of firms they are working with. This gives you a good opportunity to research your potential training provider and see what they can offer as part of the apprenticeship. You can find Training Providers for legal apprenticeships via Google or by contacting them directly.

Once you have found a vacancy, you will need to submit an application or CV for the position. If successful, your employer will then arrange your off-the-job learning with a training provider.

The Government has set out the following as the bare minimum requirements for starting a legal apprenticeship:

  • 3 Cs or above at A Level
  • 5 GCSEs at A*-C (or equivalent)
  • A UK or EEA citizen (or resident for at least 3 years)
  • 16 years of age by the time you start your apprenticeship. 

However, the employer may wish to increase the minimum requirements dependent on the position offered. We would encourage you to discuss this with your employer before starting an apprenticeship. Training Providers may also require further requirements. 

Apprenticeships are open to anyone who is looking to learn a new skill. If you are looking to take an apprenticeship in a different area to your degree, you are still eligible. 

If you hold a law degree, you are not eligible for the Paralegal apprenticeship however you may apply for the Chartered Legal Executive apprenticeship. In addition, you may benefit from some exemptions based on previous study. If you are already employed as a paralegal and hold a degree, the Chartered Legal Executive apprenticeship is a good route to take.

Apprenticeships are ideal for younger people starting out on a new career, an adult looking to make a career change, or an employee who would like to develop their skills, knowledge and experience to develop their careers.

There are numerous benefits to choosing an apprenticeship. The Government, in partnership with employer groups, have redesigned apprenticeships so that they offer even more opportunities and skills than ever before. 

As they have been created with business needs in mind, you can rest assured that you are being trained for success in your chosen field. Apprenticeships will also help you to develop your transferable, soft skills, which are highly valued by employers in any sector. 

Apprenticeships are employer-led. They are funded by the employer organisation and the Government; this means that you will not have to pay your training costs yourself. Apprenticeships are one of the few ways of achieving skills, knowledge and experience without building up significant tuition fee debt. 

As you are employed during your apprenticeship, you are entitled to a minimum wage and other statutory benefits (such as sick pay, holiday and maximum working hours) offered to employees. If an employer offers extra benefits to their employees (such as healthcare plans or childcare allowances), then they may also be offered to you too.  

Apprenticeships are well suited to those with limited work experience, or to those looking to change their career pathway.  If you meet the minimum entry requirements – if you are over 16 by the time you start your apprenticeship then age is no barrier.

Apprentices get a salary, how much will I earn?

The National Minimum Apprenticeship Wage for someone under 22 is £3.40 per hour, although most legal sector employers pay considerably more than this. Factors affecting the level of remuneration include the type of employer and geographical location. In London paralegal apprentices are typically paid around £18,000 per annum and slightly less elsewhere. The apprentice salary average for Paralegal apprenticeships is roughly £14,500.

Does doing an apprenticeship mean I won’t be able to go to university?

Not necessarily. Apprenticeships are often seen as an alternative to going to university but this does not have to be the case. If you complete the Paralegal Apprenticeship, you still have the option to apply to university to study for a degree. Some apprenticeships, such as the Solicitor Apprenticeship, include a degree as part of the apprenticeship.

How does an apprenticeship work in practice?

There are two parts to an apprenticeship: employment experience and training.
While at work, you will be supervised by your line manager and receive support from a dedicated training manager. They will be there to guide you through your apprenticeship and to monitor your work.

Your off-the-job study will be undertaken by a training provider. They will provide you with the required academic training and assess your progress throughout the apprenticeship against the required standards. You may receive regular visits in the work place from your training provider keep track of your progress.

What sort of work will I do?

The type of work you will do varies between employers and the level of apprenticeship. Some employers like their apprentices to specialise in one area of law, while others prefer them to gain experience in different departments. It is always best to discuss with your employer at the start of your apprenticeship the area of law you will specialise in and what work you will be expected to do.

When will I have time to study?

While undertaking an apprenticeship, you will be allocated 1 day a week for study. Depending on the agreement you have with your employer and training provider, this may be taken weekly or in a block. You may find that you complete your studies either at home, at the training provider or even in the office – as long as the allotted time is used for off-the-job-study and not for work purposes.

Striking the right balance between study and work can be challenging – it will require planning and discipline to ensure that you are able to cover everything. Your employer and training provider will be on hand to support you and to help plan your studies.

How long will my apprenticeship be?

The length of your apprenticeship may vary, depending on level, previous study and your employer’s needs. The minimum length of any apprenticeship is 12 months.
The Paralegal Apprenticeship ranges from 12 to 24 months, with the average apprentice taking 15 to 18 months.

The Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship can take up to 5 years to complete. This may be reduced with prior learning and experience. It is best to discuss your options with your employer and training provider before commencing on an apprenticeship.

What is an End-Point Assessment (EPA)?

All apprentices need to take an independent End-Point Assessment at the end of their Paralegal or Chartered Legal Executive apprenticeship. This will take place when your employer is satisfied that you are competent in your role. End-Point Assessments are marked by an independent End-Point Assessment Organisation, such as CILEX. Apprenticeship certificates are only awarded after End-Point Assessment is successfully completed and a minimum of a pass is achieved. The purpose of End-Point Assessments is to:

  • ensure that knowledge, skills and behaviours acquired during the apprenticeship meet the standards set out for the specific apprenticeship and occupation;
  • certify competence in the job role;
  • safeguard that standards are consistently applied throughout.

What happens when I complete my apprenticeship?

The majority of apprentices are kept on by their employers once they have completed their apprenticeship. Some decide to change to enter another part of the legal sector.  If you complete the Paralegal Apprenticeship and stay with your current employer, you may be sponsored to study further – potentially via another apprenticeship or professional qualifications.
It is advised to have a discussion with your employer towards the end of your apprenticeship to see what options are available to you and what is best for your career.

What can I do once I have completed my apprenticeship?

This depends on what level of apprenticeship you have completed. If you have been working towards a Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship, once completed you will become a fully qualified Lawyer.
If you have been working towards the Paralegal Apprenticeship, you can progress into further study – either by starting the next level of apprenticeship or embarking on the CILEX professional qualification route. Once you have completed the Paralegal Apprenticeship, you can continue working at paralegal level while completing further studies.

Should I apply for a legal apprenticeship or start the CILEX professional qualification?

There are a lot of similarities between a legal apprenticeship and the CILEX professional qualification as many training providers use the CILEX qualifications as an element of the apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship will always be funded by the employer, at no cost to the learner, whereas you are able to register onto the CILEX professional qualification and fund it privately. Some employers may also sponsor you to undertake the CILEX qualification.

Another thing to note is whether you are currently employed in the legal sector or not. An apprenticeship will require you to be employed for its duration but you can to start the CILEX route even if you are not employed in the legal sector. It is important to remember you will need to obtain relevant employment if you are interested in qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive, even if you decide to privately fund through the CILEX route.

What if I need to change or cancel my EPA?

If you do need to change the date of your EPA that CILEX has arranged for you, or cancel your EPA, we ask that you do so in writing using the Change of Circumstances form, or EPA Cancelation form which can be found on the EPA Fees & Resources page.