The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, which traditionally champions a vocational route into the legal profession, has insisted that it does not feel threatened by government plans to introduce apprenticeships as an alternative to law degrees.

Diane Burleigh (pictured), the institute’s chief executive, was responding to an announcement by skills minister Matthew Hancock that apprenticeships equivalent to bachelors and masters degrees will be available from this year.

He said that aspiring lawyers could begin working towards qualification by ‘starting on-the-job training in an apprenticeship from day one’.

Burleigh said: ‘We are supportive of national apprenticeships and do not see them as replacing us, but simply being a different structure.

‘However, it is as yet unclear how the apprenticeships are going to produce fully rounded solicitors ready to take their place in the profession, rather than merely producing paralegals who are highly skilled in a particular area of the law.’

Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: ‘The Society supports the development and recognition of alternative routes, which can achieve the same standard for qualification.’