I completed my legal studies via distance learning. Had Legal Apprenticeships been widely available back then, I would have found them an attractive option.

Andrew Smailes | Legal Trainer

The Higher Apprenticeship is suitable for apprentices who are in (or are rapidly moving towards) fee-earning roles and who already have some core technical knowledge. The Higher Apprenticeship is set at undergraduate level.

The Higher Apprenticeship enables apprentices to develop their legal practice skills via the CILEx Level 4 Diploma in Providing Legal Services. Apprentices also build their technical knowledge and professional skills through one of the following specialist qualifications:

  1. CILEx Level 4 Diploma in Debt Recovery and Insolvency
  2. CILEx Level 4 Diploma in Commercial Litigation
  3. CILEx Level 4 Diploma in Personal Injury Litigation (an extended PI Diploma is also available)

Knowledge qualifications

Each of the knowledge qualifications is underpinned by two CILEx Level 3 Professional Skills Units: Client Care Skills and Legal Research Skills. Achievement of these two mandatory units will demonstrate that the higher apprentice is able to develop effective working relationships with clients seeking legal advice and is able to research the law reliably and accurately. These units are assessed by CILEx written assignment tasks, delivered and assessed by Damar and moderated by CILEx. They are graded Pass or Fail. The other units within the knowledge qualification are assessed by a 90 minute examination set by CILEx and available twice a year (in January and June). Results are graded Pass, Merit or Distinction. The overall qualifications are not graded.

Competence qualification

The CILEx Level 4 Diploma in Providing Legal Services consists of 27 units in all from which higher apprentices must achieve a number of units totalling a minimum of 54 credits (usually 12 units). Higher apprentices are assessed across a range of business and management skills relevant to a legal services employee working at this level in an organisation. These include personal and interpersonal skills such as managing own workload and communicating effectively with people. They also include the understanding of ethical practice and the main requirements of statutory and regulatory compliance.

Higher apprentices also choose, in consultation with their employer, a number of units which complement the work they are doing and enhance their overall understanding of how the legal organisation works. This can include aspects such as case management, legal research, advising clients but also, depending on their responsibilities, managing teams and monitoring the quality of individual and team working.

The competence qualification is assessed at work through the production of a portfolio of evidence which is assessed by a qualified Damar assessor and verified by a CILEx external verifier.


For higher apprentices wishing to progress further there are a number of options:

  1. CILEx professional qualifications (higher apprentices are exempt from some units) to become a Chartered Legal Executive (a period of qualifying employment is also required).
  2. A qualifying law degree (either part- or full- time).
  3. After (a) or (b), the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
  4. Chartered Legal Executives who have completed the LPC do not have to complete a training contract in order to become a solicitor. Other LPC graduates normally have to complete a two year training contract.

Expected duration of the Higher Apprenticeship: 18 to 30 months.

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