Legal apprenticeships: ‘I fully intend to progress to partner’

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By Legal Cheek on

Legal Cheek‘s Alex Aldridge meets three lawyers who embarked on the legal apprenticeship route before it became fashionable.


Legal apprenticeships have been the big legal education news story of 2014. But the non-graduate route into law has been running quietly for several decades now.

Katie Winslow, Sophie-Jennifer Pyle and Amey Welch (pictured above) all began legal apprenticeships straight from school and, six years later, have qualified as chartered legal executive lawyers at, respectively, Irwin Mitchell, Burges Salmon and the alternative business structure Quindell Legal Services.

They chose the route largely because they didn’t want to get into debt at a time when the route was little-known, and now — to their delight and mild amusement — find themselves in receipt of a qualification that is distinctly fashionable. This was reflected by the fact that big-name politicians from both the Conservative and Labour parties attended this year’s Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) graduation ceremony.

At the event, justice minister Shailesh Vara feted the potential of legal apprenticeships to create a “more diverse legal profession and judiciary that reflects the society in which we live and better reflects the make-up of modern Britain.”

Meanwhile, shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter predicted there would be “many more chartered legal executives as advocates, judges, partners, and heads of law firms over the next few years.”

Winslow, Pyle and Welch hope to progress to these senior positions. “I fully intend to progress to partner,” says Pyle, adding that her firm, Burges Salmon, is keen on the apprenticeship route and is “growing little nests” of chartered legal executives across its departments. Welch, meanwhile, aspires to one day become a judge, while Winslow is reluctant to be drawn on the specifics of her future other than a commitment to rise through Irwin Mitchell’s ranks.

All want to become solicitors — which would require them to do the Legal Practice Course (LPC) but not a training contract. It is a typical career trajectory among ambitious chartered legal execs. What will be interesting to monitor is whether a rule change this summer granting CILEx lawyers independent practice rights will change this pattern.

Listen to Alex Aldridge chat with Pyle, Winslow and Welch in the podcast below.

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