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National Apprenticeship Week 2024

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It’s National Apprenticeship Week this week (w/c 5 February 2024). The week is to 'celebrate the value, benefit and opportunity' that apprenticeships bring - both to businesses and individuals. 

Hear from Cat and James in our team in their own words about what taking the apprenticeship career path means for them.

Catherine Thompson said “I joined CW as an assistant in the Residential Conveyancing team back in February 2022 with no prior experience in an admin role.  From this I was given the honour of becoming the first ever Graduate Legal Apprentice at the firm and I started this route in September 2023.  The apprenticeship consists of one study day during the working week and lasts for 30 months. I spend the remaining four days gaining the work experience required to qualify as a solicitor. At the end of the course, I will sit the SQE1 and SQE2 exams and I hope to qualify by March 2026.

The apprenticeship has allowed me to gain an understanding across a variety of legal sectors and this level of understanding becomes deeper by being able to apply it to the matters that I am handling in my role as a paralegal. It goes beyond the theoretical application that is seen within the other routes to qualification. I feel that this has enhanced my confidence and research skills, meaning that I am always happy to take on something new. The balance between study and work has also led to me managing my time better and I ensure to focus solely on the learning material provided by BPP on my study day and keep up to date with my tasks list the remaining days of the working week. I believe that the knowledge gained through the apprenticeship and the understanding I continue to develop will result in me becoming a successful solicitor by the end of the course.

I would absolutely recommend the apprenticeship route to anyone considering the profession. The route allows you earn whilst you learn and there is the added benefit of not incurring any student debt. This route does require dedication to your learning and can be challenging when you have multiple tasks to keep on top of. This includes going over the modules not covered, such as Trust Law, outside of the one study day a week. The firms support and especially the support of my team also means that I can apply the knowledge gained in my role to my study. The decision to allow me on this route means that I will qualify much faster than I anticipated. The firm clearly demonstrates its commitment to staff development by introducing this new route and running it alongside the traditional training contract, allowing those who have not been able to complete the LPC/SQE for various reasons to then go on and qualify with the support of the firm and the course."

James Cornforth said "I joined CW as a Paralegal in the Commercial Property team back in September 2023 with no experience in an office having worked exclusively on a farm. In the preceding year and a half, I have learnt so much and was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to learn even more by becoming a Graduate Legal Apprentice at the firm and doubling the number at the firm in January 2024.  The apprenticeship consists of one study day during the working week and lasts for 30 months. I spend the remaining four days working as a paralegal as before and building up my portfolio of work which demonstrates I have the required competencies to be a Solicitor. At the end of the course, I will sit the SQE1 and SQE2 exams and I hope to qualify by 2027.

The Apprenticeship will provide me the opportunity to learn about a greater variety of legal sectors and simultaneous apply my knowledge at work to better serve clients and aid my colleagues. I am excited by the process of developing into an independent legal professional who can bring more and more to my team. I feel there is an excellent balance between study and workdays. With only 1 study day I can still engage with the management of matters and files and, therefore, it is not impeding the development of my practical experience. However, be warned there is a lot to do within the single study day you are given, and I have had to work in my free time when I have missed a workshop due to holiday. 

I haven’t been a legal apprentice long and have much more to experience, but I would still recommend the apprenticeship route to anyone considering entering the profession as it has allowed me to take further towards qualification without taking on additional student debt."

Duncan Morter, Managing Director said “Our firm has always offered opportunities for career progression, and never more so than now.  We are committed to supporting and nurturing our existing team members, as well as recruiting new staff  via a number of routes.  Traditionally, our annual recruitment of trainee solicitors would have seen us offering training contracts to the successful applicants, but last year we saw our first Graduate Legal Apprentice join our cohort of future solicitors, which is an exciting development although one which simply demonstrates our drive for inclusion and accessibility.   Catherine Thompson is almost 6 months into the first year of her GLA, and we’ve recently welcomed James Cornforth, a paralegal within our Commercial team, onboard as a second Graduate Legal Apprentice.   Both Catherine and James are making tangible contributions to the firm, looking after clients whilst learning new skills under the mentorship and supervision of our senior lawyers.  We support their university work, and their supervisors are closely involved to ensure both of our apprentices are receiving well-rounded and in-depth on the job training alongside their studies.  Our clients, our team and the entire firm all benefit from the positive outcomes of team members who feel rewarded and supported in their work and career progression.”