Claims that legal apprenticeships ‘de-skill’ the profession are ‘completely inaccurate’, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has said.
Speaking at the launch of the CILEx Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services, which is designed to train young people as paralegals as an alternative to studying law at university, CILEx chief executive Diane Burleigh (pictured) said: ‘This is not the beginning of de-skilling, this is the beginning of skilling.’
She said the apprenticeships teach young people a wide range of business skills and help individuals from less privileged backgrounds to enter the profession.
‘This is a way of diversifying the legal profession,’ she said. ‘The number of men coming in from the [lowest level] has declined substantially.’ Just 26% of lawyers qualified through the CILEx route are men.
Alan Woods, chief executive of government-licensed sector skills council Skills for Justice, said there will still be a need for university graduates providing commercial legal services. But he said the introduction of alternative business structures has led to a growing demand for individuals providing commodity services.
‘This is not an “either/or” choice between academic and vocational,’ he added. ‘It’s not just about going to university and doing law, there are lots of other ways.’
Ed Glasgow, lawyer and apprentice supervisor at international firm Kennedys, said: ‘There’s every reason to think that one day, with the right time, our apprentices could make partnership.’