Skills for Justice joins profession to set up paralegal apprenticeship framework

Skills for Justice has teamed up with members of the legal profession to build a formal paralegal apprenticeship framework in a bid to boost opportunities across the legal profession.

The charitable organisation, which helps the profession with workforce needs, is working with 14 law firms, including DWF and Eversheds, as well as the Legal Services Board, the legal regulators, central government and the national apprenticeship scheme (NAS) to help create national standards that will sit at the heart of a structured apprenticeship programme for the legal services sector.

By setting these National Occupational Standards, the apprenticeships will attract government funding to cover the necessary training. Skills for Justice hopes this will encourage law firms to employ a greater number of paralegal apprentices.

Skills for Justice key account manager Charles Welsh said: “Currently there is no statutory apprenticeship framework for the legal services sector. The framework will create more opportunities to have apprenticeship pathways within law firms.

“By standardising paralegal apprenticeships we can ensure the same opportunities are open for everyone. It will mean the outcome of quality and performance will be equal across the legal market.”

The news arrives following the introduction of the Legal Services Act, which is expected to bring about the biggest shake-up of the profession for decades, and force law firms to revaluate how they choose to deliver legal services in the future.

Welsh added that the new framework should be formalised by April 2012, with a whole range of paralegal apprenticeship opportunities available by 2013.