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Jane Robson

CEO, National Association of Licensed Paralegals

Quotation Marks
In addition to the financial aspect, apprenticeships enable businesses to mould their workforce according to their specific needs

The win–win world of legal apprenticeships

The win–win world of legal apprenticeships


Jane Robson looks at the value of apprenticeships as an alternative route into the legal profession and its ability to foster growth, diversity and excellence

Legal apprenticeships are reshaping career pathways in the legal sector. One of the standout benefits of legal apprenticeships lies in their ability to cater to individuals with diverse educational backgrounds and aspirations. Unlike the conventional course of pursuing a university degree, apprenticeships provide an accessible pathway into the legal profession for those who may not be inclined towards, or have the means to afford, higher education.

For apprentices, the appeal often lies in the hands-on experience gained from day one. The structured learning and on-the-job training enable apprentices to develop practical skills, while earning a wage. This approach proves particularly advantageous for those who prefer a more experiential learning journey over a purely academic one.

Financial considerations and real-world experience

The financial aspect cannot be understated. As the cost of university education continues to rise, legal apprenticeships offer a financially viable alternative. Government statistics reveal that students who started their courses in 2022/23 will accumulate an average debt of £45,600 by the time they graduate. In contrast, apprenticeships provide an earning opportunity while learning.

Moreover, apprenticeships allow individuals to gain real-world experience in the legal profession. The Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship, for instance, ensures that apprentices gain an average of two years of practical experience in the legal sector. This hands-on exposure not only enhances their market value but also equips them with a nuanced understanding of the profession.

Expanding opportunities across industries

Legal apprenticeships have transcended traditional boundaries, making their mark in various industries beyond law firms. Many organisations today boast in-house legal teams as a strategic means to reduce reliance on external legal advice. Embracing apprenticeships allows businesses to tap into a pool of enthusiastic individuals, offering valuable support to legal teams, while providing apprentices with a broad range of experiences outside the conventional law firm setting.

Benefits for employers

The advantages of legal apprenticeships extend beyond the apprentices themselves, presenting a compelling case for businesses to consider this model. Cost considerations are paramount, with apprentices typically commanding lower wages compared to recent graduates. This is particularly pertinent for small businesses grappling with rising operational costs.

In addition to the financial aspect, apprenticeships enable businesses to mould their workforce according to their specific needs. Employers benefit from a talent pool that is not only well trained, but also familiar with the organisation’s culture and standards. This synergy enhances productivity and efficiency, setting the stage for a harmonious work environment.

Government support and positive business outcomes

Government statistics underline the positive impact of apprenticeships on businesses, with 86 per cent of employers reporting that apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation, 78 per cent saying apprenticeships improved productivity, and 74 per cent finding apprenticeships helped improve their overall service. Employing apprentices has also been shown to improve the image of an organisation.

Financial incentives and funding opportunities

From a financial perspective, businesses should note that engaging in legal apprenticeships provides access to government funding. How much funding can be dependent on the apprenticeship standard itself and the size of the business. Larger organisations with salary bills of more than £3m will be paying an apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per cent of their annual salary expenditure. Otherwise, employers pay 5 per cent towards the cost of training and assessing their apprentices. Each apprenticeship is allocated a funding band maximum which is paid directly to the training provider. The training provider will then pay the End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) for the assessment element of the apprenticeship, but the employer can have a say in which EPAO is used, as well as choosing their training provider, providing both are on the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR). Of course, some larger employers are also training providers on the APAR and so train their own staff, meaning they only need the services of an EPAO.


Legal apprenticeships represent a paradigm shift in the way individuals enter the legal profession, offering an inclusive and dynamic alternative to traditional university routes. The benefits extend far beyond apprentices themselves, permeating through diverse businesses eager to capitalise on a skilled and adaptable workforce. As the legal sector continues to evolve, embracing apprenticeships emerges as a strategic move, fostering growth, diversity and excellence in the ever-changing landscape of the legal profession.

Jane Robson is CEO of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit membership body