Why did you choose your apprenticeship over other options into law?
I chose an apprenticeship rather than going straight to university because I wanted to start a career; I wanted to start from scratch, learning new things every day in a practical sense rather than through a textbook. I also couldn't afford to go to university due to the ever-mounting costs that are associated with it. I was capable of going to university to study my degree, but it just wasn't an option. Instead, I decided that I wanted to develop myself, and my knowledge, all in one – and that is exactly what my apprenticeship allowed me to do.
Why did you choose Gowling in particular?
Gowling WLG (known as Wragge Lawrence Graham when I first started!) came across as a supportive, well-respected and impressive law firm from the outset – my perception through conducting research online was completely correct. When I started, I realised that the people that work at Gowling WLG enjoy what they do; and if people enjoy their job, it certainly allows you to enjoy yours too. The support that Gowling WLG can offer is outstanding and I am extremely grateful to be working in such an encouraging workforce. Furthermore, the vacancy fit my interests perfectly!
What are your daily tasks?
Each day is different - I think that is what keeps me so motivated because each day is interesting. I have my own files and have been well trained in many areas of my team's expertise, meaning that I can be flexible and help other team members when they need me. The most important thing to note about my daily tasks is that it does not involve largely administrative jobs – which is often the perception of an apprentice. Instead, I have become a fully integrated member of the team and am confident in carrying out the same work as my peers.
Tell us about the study side of the apprenticeship?
The study side of the apprenticeship is challenging, but not impossible. It may seem daunting to look at the course as largely independent study, but it really isn't difficult to manage – myself and three other apprentices at the firm have all managed with the exams and study, so we are proof that it isn't too difficult! It shouldn't be taken lightly by any means, but if you are a motivated and dedicated individual that is really passionate about doing well, you'll be fine.
The apprenticeship is a brilliant chance to gain experience and skills that other routes into law would not be able to provide you with. Furthermore, an apprenticeship allows you to get your 'foot in the door', opening up many new opportunities for you as you progress. I am currently in the process of completing my two-year apprenticeship and as a result, have been offered a place on the six-year Solicitor Apprenticeship with Gowling WLG as of September 2017 – an opportunity I could never have imagined would arise.
How do you balance work & study?
Balancing work and study can again seem challenging, but the most important thing is to set up a routine. I take my study time period at a set time of the week each week, divert my phone and put my out of office on. I can then disconnect from the busy workday and focus entirely on my study. Being organised is also essential – my calendar is colour co-ordinated for all sorts of different deadlines, and I have notepads everywhere full of lists! But it keeps me focussed on what I need to get done.
Do you think the apprenticeship is giving you an advantage over people who went down other routes into law?
I would say that the apprenticeship is a brilliant chance to gain experience and skills that other routes into law would not be able to provide you with. Furthermore, an apprenticeship allows you to get your 'foot in the door', opening up many new opportunities for you as you progress. I am currently in the process of completing my two-year apprenticeship and as a result, have been offered a place on the six-year Solicitor Apprenticeship with Gowling WLG as of September 2017 – an opportunity I could never have imagined would arise.
This means that from starting as an apprentice, I now have the skills behind me that a company recognises as being worth putting through a degree. This acknowledgement from the business is incredible and just goes to show that you aren't 'just an apprentice' for two years – you are a growing member of the workforce. And with that comes opportunities for your success.
Do you have any advice to young people wanting to get into law who might be considering an apprenticeship?
If you are considering an apprenticeship, my advice to you is to make sure you are committed. Entering into an apprenticeship is a commitment from both yourself and the company, so it is really important that you enter into it willing to learn and willing to progress. When applying, don't panic about interviews or assessment days – they really aren't that scary! Dress smartly and be yourself; the people that are there to assess you are only there to make sure that you are right for the company and that the role is right for you.
The great thing about apprenticeships is that employers understand that you haven't come straight from university with a degree in your hand – they understand that you are new to the industry and want to learn. So don't panic, take it in your stride and let the employer know that you want to work for and with them – a smile and a handshake is a great way to start! But most importantly, whichever choice you make – make sure you make it for you.
Be yourself throughout any applications, interviews or conversations that you may have as a result of your decision, and ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY – whichever path it is you decide to take.