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Do employers prefer a university degree or an apprenticeship for law watch

    • Thread Starter

    I am stuck on whether to do a-levels then go to university ( hopefully oxford) or do an apprenticeship (I plan to go into a law career). Does anyone have any advice on which degree employers in law prefer?
    • Community Assistant

    Community Assistant
    When you say "employers in law" - do you mean you wish to become a solicitor? A barrister?

    For working as a solicitor, there are the "new" 7 year (I think) solicitor apprenticeships wherein you will work in a law firm, incidentally get an LLB via BPP or the University of Law or similar usually, and then pending a final exam, be admitted to the Roll of Solicitors. Typically the firm that is offering the apprenticeship will plan to keep on the newly qualified solicitor (probably in the same section they've been working for the bulk of the apprenticeship) so the apprenticeship is more of a route to a job, than a qualification which may get a job somewhere else. The transferability of this background may vary somewhat (technically speaking it should be acceptable to any law firm but others may well turn up their noses at it). Additionally you may find it harder to move into other areas outside of the legal profession, depending on what they're looking for. I'd note, these apprenticeships seem to be geared towards school leavers who have done A-levels or a similar academic programme.

    You can of course go the "usual" route of getting a first degree in Law (or potentially something else - various changes to Solicitor qualification are coming but a Law degree is still probably "best" route) then doing the LPC and getting a training contract (the former element likely being phased out over the next 20 years or so as I understand). Of course this entails several stages of "attrition" - getting the relevant exam results to even be realistically able to progress, being able to fund an LPC or get a TC with funded LPC, and if not the latter, then applying to the LPC. There are more law graduates each year than TCs (and possibly LPC "places" although I'm not so sure on that) so inevitably some will take a few years to start progressing (or may not be able to). However a Law degree is perfectly suitable for applying to other roles that just require a degree such as most grad schemes.

    To become a Barrister, I believe a Law degree is required no matter what - then continuing in a similar fashion as above through the BPTC and Pupillage, although it's even more fiercely competitive and thus most have degrees from Oxbridge (and possibly LLMs/similar) from what I hear.

    If you intend to become a solicitor, and can get a spot on a solicitor apprenticeship, then I'd suggest pursuing that in the first instance, as worst case scenario you can decide to leave - having earned not an insignificant amount of money while working there, and still being able to apply to a degree with full funding (in Law or anything else). However these schemes are, as I understand, very competitive currently, so it would make sense to also apply to degrees as appropriate. Having done something less directly related, such as a paralegal apprenticeship, before getting a degree (in Law or otherwise) may still be useful when applying for TCs, especially if it was fee earner work - as you have first hand experience of similar work as a trainee solicitor and the general sector, and this could be useful to draw from in an interview. However, this may vary, and may have less lucrative pay in the process so...

    However doing a 16-18 apprenticeship in whatever (underwater basket weaving, business administration, whatever) is going to be a worse option in all of these cases.

    It matters what type of apprenticeship you do.

    There are solicitor apprenticeships out there but there are a very limited amount of them. Look for trailblazer apprenticeships which if completed would get you to the same level as a NQ lawyer who took a degree LPC. They take a good 6-7 years to complete though (but so would the degree route).

    What you could do is apply to uni and these type of apprenticeships, see how you get on in both admissions/recruitment processes and then make a decision.

    Unfortunately there are not any similar apprenticeship standards for barristers. Although that could change as I know it is something the Bar are at least discussing.

    Apprenticeships in law have been practically non existent between the early 90s up to a couple of years ago. So they are considered a “new” route by most professionals, and with that comes some scepticism. But in time they will become more popular and standardised, especially once the new SQE qualification standard comes in. That is supposed to level the playing field for all routes into the Solicitors profession anyway.
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