‘I got my A-Level results, now do I go to uni or do a solicitor apprenticeship?’

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By Legal Cheek on


Advice needed

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one school-leaver is questioning their route into law.

“I just got my A-levels back last week and got the grades I wanted to go to my firm choice uni. I worked super hard to get the results I needed but now I’m starting to question whether or not going to uni is for me. I definitely want to become a lawyer and now that more law firms are offering solicitor apprenticeships I’m wondering whether it would be best to do that instead? Are there any disadvantages to doing this instead of getting a law degree at uni and starting my career that way? Please help!”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.



Are you going to a university that typically requires AAA or more for its law course? I.e. Oxbridge, London Unis, Durham, Bristol, Nottingham, etc. If so, go to university.

If you aren’t planning to go to one of the above universities, perhaps consider the apprenticeship route.

It’s not impossible to get a half-decent TC after going to a ‘lower ranking’ university, but it is far, far more difficult.


I would agree with the comment above. If you have been accepted to a really top university (and I would even narrow that list further to the top 5-6 law schools in the Country) then 100% go to university. The degree (if you do well) will give you excellent academic credentials which still counts for a lot. This approach is doubly important if you are planning on practising in commercial/chancery as they are hellbent on top degrees.

If you have not been accepted to a top university then I would get my foot in the door early and work at gaining experience as your selling point.


What about Bristol? I’ve not heard anything negative about it, and particularly, has good representation for the Bar

MC Trainee

Second this. Although I didn’t attend Bristol myself, I’m a Trainee at a Magic Circle Firm and a significant chunk of my Trainee cohort are Bristol graduates. Clearly a strong university for Law.


Shearman did on campus interviews for Oxford applicants this year – their preferences are so obvious. Unless you are going to the very best unis (i.e. not just RG) the solicitor apprenticeship route might be better.


would you say University of Birmingham, with grades AAB or an apprenticeship?


The principle of solicitor apprenticeships are great but so many people get messed around. If you do accept an apprenticeship, make sure it’s at a top firm and it’s not a paralegal apprenticeship with later consideration of being put on the solicitor apprenticeship.

Personally, if I had good A Levels, I would go to Uni. There is still a stigma around apprenticeships and your career prospects are much better at a good Uni.

If your A Levels aren’t as good, I can see why an apprenticeship would be a good idea as its a promise to qualification without the debt.


A lot of red flags here. If you had to work “super hard” for A levels that and you think uni is not for you then those are two markers that might mean the legal profession is not where you should be heading.

Get some perspective

Spoken like an overprivileged, spoonfed, private-schooled chump. (Am I right in those assumptions?)

Someone from an underprivileged background may consider uni to be an unfamiliar and daunting prospect. Not all of us had our educational “successes” gifted to us on a plate.


No, no and no. So no. (I suppose I was spooned while an infant, but I think I can say “no”).

As someone from a working class background I find self-pitying sentiments like those expressed by the poster above pathetic and embarrassing. The UK education system offers no challenges to those with academic ability and getting into a decent uni from an allegedly disadvantaged background is easy these days, the unis are falling over themselves to meet ever increasing quotas. If someone is such a wallflower the find uni “daunting” then they can grow up and get on with it.

Get some perspective

“Allegedly disadvantaged”? What are you on about? Do you truly think it’s a level playing field out there?

Spoken like a middle-class person masquerading as working-class person with no real understanding (or sympathy) for what it’s like to grow up with no mentors/role models, no information and a terrible schooling. I note your bitterness at unis’ contextual approach (I wonder why?) – privileged people don’t realise all the subtle pushes and helps that they’ve had along the way, which necessitate a contextual approach.

(I don’t believe for a second that you’re working class. It’s a hilarious inversion of the class system nowadays that people try to claim a class lower than their own for some sort of social cachet.)


You sound like an AI bot asked to impersonate a vacuous liberal social worker. I suppose the words “vacuous” and “liberal” are redundant there. You basic point, that poor cowering working class kids are scared of uni, is just bollocks of the highest order. That’s the sort of crap vomited out by middle class Labour voters.

Rational observer

Leave social workers alone please they have nothing to do with this and they do genuinely life-saving jobs on the daily

Get some perspective

Randomly taking aim at social workers now!? Bizarre. Are you some nuts arch-conservative?

(I love a good flame war, thank you.)

Rational observer

You “loved” this? Then maybe don’t complain about the output of our political system as it is kindof your fault.

Archibald O'Pomposity

STOP IT or I’ll bang both your heads together. You’re both overprivileged, the pair of you.

Rational observer

1) you can’t start a class war over everything 2) the middle class definitely also get scrwd over in the admissions process. Please and thank you.

Kirkland Lambo

I think it’s grade / uni offer dependant.

If you have excellent grades and an offer from a Russell group uni then I would go down the university route.

If you have mediocre grades then it’s a good foot in the door although 6 years of graft is a long slog.

My years at university were some of the best years of my life so far. I also gained a lot from my degree which my I don’t think my firm could give me; I think university develops independent thought and an ability to think critically which applies in life outside of the law.

What I think solicitor apprenticeships will do well is prepare people for the real life demand of legal work owing to the commercial setting.


Get your degree. Apprentices will always be second tier to graduates and everybody will know when it comes to partnership.

Fresher Alert

Spoken like a true 2:2 student from a mediocre university clutching onto that dream of a US training contract that daddy told him he would get.

Rational observer

Everyone hates Anthony saying this, but Anthony is probably right that apprentices are still second tier. Degrees do teach something that hands-on does not, sadly.

Be Truthful to Yourself

Cannot see the Solicitor Apprenticeship scheme getting many over the line. It is a gimmick that we all know is to pander to an ideology that is not workable in the real world.

#career paralegal at most

#choose a different career


I disagree with a lot of the comments here as I think the apprenticeship scene is changing. I think that the places from top firms are of equal value if not more valuable than a university place. This is evident by the apprentices who are turning down Oxbridge/ RG unis for the apprenticeship. However, this is more applicable if the apprenticeship is from a Magic/Silver circle firm as the training from this employer will carry weight.

Rational observer

Absolutely no one is turning down Oxbridge for an apprenticeship


Yes, they are. On UCAS, there is a story of someone who turned down Oxford for an Eversheds Sutherland apprenticeship. Why not take the apprenticeship if it’s from somewhere like Allen & Overy?? Don’t be so narrow minded.


1) Do not become a lawyer. It isn’t fun.
2) For the above reason, please go to university so you become more employable when you eventually realise point 1 and start looking for an alternative career.
3) That said, if you did not get into a top 10 UK university then do not waste your money on a UK law degree. Go to a great but less internationally competitive university somewhere abroad, e.g. to the top 3 unis in the Netherlands. Studying abroad is the most fun thing to do at university anyways and you will become more employable internationally.
4) If you do not believe 1-3 but also did not get into a top 10 UK university then do an apprenticeship until you realise that point 1 above is true. Then start over.


Try looking at the fine print of the apprenticeship/degree apprenticeship do they require you to work in the company for how many years after, are there pay/progression restrictions, do they give you training and studying time or are you just working for them at reduced pay with no chance to further yourself? Have you checked what former apprentices say of the company?Also looking at your uni does it do all the modules you want? Does it have strong links to company’s for graduates? Make a pro and con list and choose from there.


The link don’t work…


Over 40 City firms are now committed to taking on Solicitor Apprentices from next year, with that number increasing in 2025 Have a look at https://citycentury.co.uk/

Because of this initiative, it is a great time to consider doing an apprenticeship, and from year 5 of 6 of your apprenticeship, you’ll be a trainee and on that firm’s trainee salary.

Apprenticeships are hard though. You will be working long hours and juggling a the same law degree as someone at uni, plus your SQE1 and 2 prep over 6 years. If you are trying to avoid academia, then an apprenticeship will not give you this. If anything you will be studying harder and with less time each week/month.

It will save you tens of thousands of pounds in student debt though and be earning from day one. Evidence so far suggests you will have more chance of passing the SQE exams compared to your straight out of uni counterparts too.


Go to university. It is fun and a valuable life experience.


I’d say University. We’re already going to be working until we’re 80+ at this rate & university gives you 3 years to live relatively ‘responsibility free’. Before the bandwagon jump on, I went to a Russell Group University and so many of my friends aren’t even in the law now, having decided after their degree it wasn’t for them or after a few months/years working as a solicitor. If that ends up being OP at least they have their degree which is still looked upon favourably by employers due to the range of skills it can show. Postpone working for as long as possible in my view and enjoy yourself first!


A Solicitor Apprenticeship is certainly not the “softer option” by any means. As another poster put – a lot of very respectable firms are pivoting to the Solicitor Apprentice route. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that apprentices will be well ahead of their peers going the traditional uni route.
https://www.tiktok.com/@citycenturycareers explores the benefits and worth a follow.


I disagree, planning to become a barrister or a judge, graduation will be essential


A solicitor apprentice will also get a graduation. The qualification they are studying for is an LLB.

A year 4 solicitor apprentice

As someone who is quite a way through the solicitor apprenticeship scheme, I’d say go to university. If I could turn back the time and go back I would. It’s nice to have the experience and I’d be a liar if I said that what I’ve learnt as an apprentice has been anything but invaluable – but your mental health will be in the ground. Attending university relentlessly for 5-6 years with no scheduled breaks (apart from 2 weeks at Christmas) and working a job takes it’s toll after a while. Once established enough, you’re treated as if on the same level as a trainee and will be working long hours and be still be expected to submit essays for uni every week. Most others in my intake are also feeling incredibly burnt out and the looming SQE is making us all anxious. Go to uni and enjoy your life – being paid a half decent apprentice salary and some office experience isn’t worth it.

Don't be a fool.

Apprenticeship. 100%.


If you more bright, dedicated, talented and want to get a head start on others, 100% take a solicitor apprenticeship with a decent firm, many of whom participate in CityCentury.Co.uk. #loanfreelawyer

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