And the trend could be about to take off, with law firm Mayer Brown hiring more than its original quota.
Mayer Brown announced today that Rosie Ahmadi, 20 and David Elikwu, 21 will be the first participants in its "articled apprenticeship" programme. This encompasses a four-year earn-as-you-learn law degree, followed by two years as part of its trainee group.
The law firm had intended to take on one apprentice, but the quality of applicants was so high, it hired two.
"The calibre of applicants who put themselves forward for this apprenticeship was extremely high, therefore we decided to offer a legal apprenticeship to two people," Annette Sheridan, global chief human resources officer at Mayer Brown, said.
The programme offers a more direct, and cheaper, route to becoming a high-flying City lawyer. Typically aspiring solicitors must complete an undergraduate degree, followed by a law conversion and/or vocational qualification before beginning a two-year training contract at a law firm. University fees are currently around £9,000 a year, while law school costs around £10,000.
The pair achieved excellent grades at sixth form, but decided a three-year stint at university wasn't for them.
Ahmadi completed a string of professional qualifications after joining the law firm's business services apprenticeship in December 2013. Elikwu completed the first year of a law degree at City University in 2012, before leaving to gain more practical work experience, and went on to intern in the law department of global titan Google through its Top Black Talent programme.
"I am delighted to welcome our inaugural apprentices — Rosie and David — to the firm and I look forward to watching their progress as they develop their future careers."
"The Articled Apprenticeship gives talented people like them, who have decided against full-time study, a credible alternative to qualification as a solicitor."
The application process for the next legal apprenticeship intake opens in January 2016.