The first National Vocational Qualifications for lawyers and legal staff are to be launched by the Institute of Legal Executives next year.
The move has been hailed as a significant step towards tackling the shortage of training places for graduates trying to enter the legal profession.
The Law Society, which is the lead body responsible for overseeing standards in law NVQs, wants graduates to be able to start their training at paralegal level if they are unable to find a trainee solicitor place with a law firm.
Martin Mears, president of the Law Society, has suggested that the only other solution is to set a much lower limit on the number of places available on professional training courses.
The Institute of Legal Executives, the second largest legal professional body in Britain with more than 22,000 members, has entered into a partnership with the Business and Technology Education Council to become the awarding body for law NVQs.
Announcing the partnership, Raymond Ball, the institute's chief executive, said a pilot scheme would be run for the new qualifications on the existing ILEX Part 1 course, which is a competency-based programme similar to NVQs.
"From this we will learn a great deal about the different assessment methods, how to deliver NVQs and the manner in which we need to manage them," he said.
The new NVQs will be designed for legal administrators through to legal executives, the latter trying for qualifications at NVQ level 4, deemed broadly equivalent to degree level.
The institute already has an established track record in para- legal training, but the new qualifications will help build new "bridges and ladders" between the various routes up through the profession, a spokeswoman said.
"The details are yet to be worked out, but we expect that those gaining law NVQs may be able to gain exemption from some of the stages on the route to legal executive status. It may well be those students would then decide to go on to train as solicitors," she added.