This article is based on research on a foundation degree programme in paralegal education in England. The content explores the pedagogical benefits of this academic programme with its work-related focus. The research has been completed with academic tutors and students who are associated with a foundation degree programme in paralegal education in the north of England. The researchers have adopted an ethnographic paradigm in their exploration of learning and teaching within this academic programme. The research is ‘field based’ as it is situated in a particular context and it has occurred over four years of investigation. The article advocates the development of a transformative learning ethos that is based on a sound philosophy of teaching and learning in order to support the development of understandings of ethics within a vocational foundation degree context. The originality of the article rests in the observation that paralegal education is ideally situated within a foundation degree structure due to its vocational emphasis and its philosophy of pedagogy. The combination of practical work experience on the foundation degree and a clear vision of pedagogy has led to the emergence of a vibrant curriculum within a post-compulsory educational context.