New pathway to qualification gains popularity as SQE roll-out nears
The number of solicitor apprenticeships on offer jumped by 40% in a single year, new figures released this week by the regulator have shown.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s annual report on education and training shows there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of solicitor apprenticeships available.
There were 242 solicitor apprenticeships available last year, 41% more than in 2019, when there were 170 available, according to the SRA data. There were 107 solicitor apprenticeships in 2017 and just 30 in 2016.
Qualifying through a solicitor apprenticeship offers an opportunity to earn-as-you-learn on the job, while removing the expense of training and the cost of taking exams.
Solicitor apprentices will qualify through the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), a new two-part national assessment due to come into force from September 2021. The SQE is intended to offer greater flexibility to future solicitors in that they have the option to earn as they learn.
“With the SQE offering greater flexibility of training, it is good to see more apprenticeships,” an SRA spokesperson told Legal Cheek. “They are potentially a good option for firms who want to attract new talent. And they offer an alternative for aspiring solicitors who cannot afford or don’t want to go down the traditional university route. Both the firms and apprentices benefit by having training costs covered and that can help to improve the diversity of the profession.”
A number of law firms have established solicitor apprenticeships that incorporate SQE training. Allen & Overy last month became the first of the magic circle to embrace solicitor apprenticeships in London. The firm is recruiting six apprentices to start in September 2022. Other firms to have launched solicitor apprenticeships in recent weeks include Norton Rose Fulbright and DLA Piper.
You can find out more about the various routes into the legal profession, including solicitor apprenticeships, using our interactive ‘Paths to becoming a lawyer‘ guide.