New, flexible legal services apprenticeships have arrived in Wales, thanks to a new partnership between the Welsh Government, CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and the Law Society.
The new apprenticeship pathway is the result of a collaborative approach across government and the legal services sector in Wales, aimed at improving access to justice by opening up opportunities to the growing number of individuals looking for a vocational route into a career in law.
The new Level 3 and Level 5 apprenticeships are open to students aged 16 or over who have a high standard of numeracy and literacy and are sponsored by their employer. Any organisation that is able to provide the necessary legal work experience is eligible to sign up, with an estimated 700 organisations in Wales potentially suitable to sponsor a legal apprentice.
Employers in Wales can begin recruiting for legal services apprentices or sponsoring existing employees from June 2022 when training providers will be open for enrolments. Apprentices will be able to study remotely or in-person.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General for Wales and Minister for the Constitution, said:
“The introduction of the new CILEX qualifications is a significant development for the Welsh legal sector. It builds on the recommendations of both the Commission on Justice in Wales and the rapid review of the legal sector in Wales by Jomati Consultants.
“The launch of the new apprenticeship pathway should help meet the aim of creating a more diverse and socially mobile legal sector with a workforce that is representative of Welsh society.”
Mark Davies, Chair of the Wales Committee of The Law Society, added:
“I am delighted that the Law Society Wales Office have been working so closely with CILEX and the Welsh Government to bring about this innovative legal apprenticeship programme.
“We very much welcome this apprenticeship programme that will provide quality regulated legal education to the staff employed by our members throughout Wales.”
Apprentices undertaking the new qualifications will complete the Foundation stage (Level 3) and Advanced stage (Level 5) of the new CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), giving them a clear progression route to further legal qualification, including becoming a CILEX Lawyer, practising as specialists in their chosen area of practice alongside solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals.
Each level will take between 18 months and two years to complete, meaning an apprentice who progresses further with their legal training could qualify as a CILEX Lawyer, and aligned to their qualifying experience, in five to six years.
Linda Ford, CEO of CILEX, said:
“As a pioneer of legal education, we’re delighted to be able to offer an alternative, vocational route into a legal career to aspiring lawyers in Wales.
“Adopting the CPQ as the framework for the new legal services apprenticeships means employers will be training employees who are on their way to becoming specialist lawyers with not only the right legal knowledge but also the practical, commercial and interpersonal skills to make an impact from day one.”
Apprentices with undergraduate or postgraduate legal qualifications who are sponsored by an employer will not need to undertake the Level 3 apprenticeship and can begin at Level 5.
Employers or training providers who want to know more about the Welsh apprenticeships should visit: businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/skills-and-training-programmes/apprenticeships