Posted by Abbie Porter, Paralegal
Starting my career in law: legal apprenticeships
I was recently featured in the Berks, Bucks & Oxfordshire Law Society’s magazine sharing my experience as a legal apprentice. Here’s what I had to say..
In August 2016, I began my career in the legal environment. I did not take the traditional route into law, starting with a law degree; instead I have started my career as a legal apprentice at Royds Withy King.
After receiving my GCSE results I progressed onto my A-levels and started to consider further education. Like many people, I believed that the only way to qualify in law was to follow the traditional degree route. However, following meetings with the school’s career adviser and talks from various apprenticeship providers and employers, I discovered that an apprenticeship was a new and alternative route into the legal profession.
Whilst at senior school I decided to spend a week’s work experience at a firm of solicitors to see what it was like and to help me decide whether a job in the legal field might be for me. I spent the week at Royds Withy King, observing how different departments operated and gaining an insight into what it really meant to work in a law firm. I thoroughly enjoyed my work experience, and following the completion of further work experience in other firms I decided that a career in law was definitely what I wanted to work towards.
Like most apprenticeships, my legal apprenticeship involves working full time in a law firm at the same time as studying for a Level 3 qualification in Legal Administration. This qualification involves learning about the legal environment and different aspects of the law as well as developing business skills such as typing and proofreading.
Following more research into the legal apprenticeship, I decided to look out for vacancies, but also kept my university offers on hold in case I was unsuccessful.
The application process
When I saw the legal apprenticeship vacancy at Royds Withy King I applied immediately because of my previous experience with the company whilst at school.
The first stage of the application involved submitting my CV online and completing a few online questions about why I was interested in the job and any previous work experience that I had. A few weeks later, I received a telephone call from the Recruitment team to discuss my CV more thoroughly. We discussed my GCSE results, my predicted A-level results, my work experience and why I was interested in the apprenticeship.
After this, I was referred to the training provider for the apprenticeship who conducted an initial Skype interview. On successfully passing this stage I was invited for my first interview at Royds Withy King. During this interview I met with HR and a member of the Personal Injury team. On the same day, I also took part in a group activity with other candidates. This involved completing a short task to prioritise what items, from a given list, we thought would be most important for survival on a desert island and presenting this back to our interviewers.
I successfully passed this stage of the application process and was invited back for a second interview with the partner of the Personal Injury team.
Much to my delight, I was offered the position, shortly after this interview.
Day to day my apprenticeship is much like any other job. I work Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm in the Personal Injury department at Royds Withy King. I attend team meetings, training events and team building sessions, all of which have helped me to integrate into the team. What is different for me, is that I am also studying for my Legal Administration Qualification alongside my day to day tasks at work. It takes one year to achieve the qualification and I will remain in the Personal Injury team for the duration. Once a month I meet with my tutor, who comes into the office, and we discuss what I have been working on, what I need to do next and complete assignments. I have one afternoon a week of time set aside to allow me to complete my coursework in the office. There is absolutely no cost to me, the course is fully funded by my employer, and I receive a salary.
In my first meeting with my tutor, we discussed the different modules that were available on the course and selected the modules that would be most relevant to me working in the Personal Injury department. We selected modules such as: the legal environment, civil litigation and negligence. Alongside modules which focus on the law, I also complete business focused modules such as audio typing, managing files, and business communication.
Getting my qualification
Each module is assessed in a different way. For example, the ‘legal environment’ module was assessed using a multiple choice exam. The ‘civil litigation’ module was assessed during a three hour controlled assignment in which I had to complete various tasks such as; creating information sheets and drafting emails to clients. Other modules have more than one element. For instance, the ‘business communication’ module involves answering written questions about communication in a business environment as well as demonstrating effective business communication in practice. To do this, my tutor will come up to my desk and watch me carry out a task. As I am going along I explain the steps I am taking and why I am taking them. For a few of the modules I have undertaken exams, such as the ‘legal environment’ module, but most of the course involves more practical learning.
Outside of my studies, following the apprenticeship has allowed me to get involved in a number of tasks to aid the firm such as preparing bundles for mediation and court hearings, as well as attending court.
I believe the apprenticeship route has enabled me to gain a different insight into law than I would have gained had I decided to go to university. Not only have I started to understand some of the key legal principles and the application of the law to personal injury cases, but I have also gained practical experience of what is involved in the day to day workings in a law firm. This has given me a greater depth of understanding to help me achieve my qualification.
I would highly recommend following an apprenticeship route to anyone who likes to put their learning into practice. My apprenticeship has given me a solid foundation for progressing my legal career in the coming years.
We are currently recruiting for apprentices across our offices so please visit our careers page for more information- www.roydswithyking.com/careers
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