Beth and Ben – 1st year Solicitor Apprentices:-
1. Why did you choose an apprenticeship rather than going to university?
Beth: I already knew that I wanted to go into Law, but I was originally planning to go to University to do a course other than law, but I realised that this would just prolong the process. I also realised that I didn’t really want to move away from home, and that I was ‘bored’ of the traditional education system: I felt ready to experience work. I also knew that at the end of the apprenticeship, I would have much more experience than if I had gone through University.
Ben: If I wasn’t at Blacks now, I would be studying law at university anyway with the intention to someday qualify as a solicitor. Nevertheless, I believe that law, for the purposes of pursuing a career in the legal sector, is more of a vocational subject which is better suited to the apprenticeship route. Whilst the academia is extremely important, the workplace requires an additional set of skills which are not currently taught in our education system. After 6 years, I will have the same qualifications as somebody who has followed the ‘traditional route’, yet will benefit from an extra 4 years of work experience without £50,000+ of student debt.
2. How long is the apprenticeship? Do you work in just 1 department for the 6 years?
Beth: The apprenticeship is six years long, but we will get to move around each department within those years. For example, I have been in Blacks Direct (conveyancing) for five months, and I am moving to Wills and Probate next month
3. Do I get paid?
Beth: I get paid for the work that I am doing at Blacks, and I get paid monthly.
4. How is your life/study/work life balance?
Beth: Both Blacks and BPP (the University) ensure that we balance our time between study, work and general life. We do still have time to do the ordinary things that University students get to do.
5. Do you have a good support network?
Beth: The support network at Blacks and BPP is excellent; there is always someone to talk to. We have mentors in each department at Blacks, as well as our general supervisor, and they always make time if we need to speak to them. At BPP, we have a student manager who we can contact if we need them, as well as an Academic tutor who we can contact if we need extra guidance.
Ben: The support network is incredible. There are numerous people who I can talk to in work – my supervisor, my line manager and a couple of other colleagues, and at BPP – my personal tutor and my student manager.
6. Why would you recommend an apprenticeship?
Beth: I would recommend an apprenticeship because there is there is an opportunity to develop the general work-related skills that they can’t properly teach you at university. You do still get the academic side, if that is what you like, but it is broken up with the practical, hands-on experience.
Ben: If you aspire to be a solicitor, the apprenticeship makes perfect sense because: after 6 years you will be qualified with no student debt, the same degree and an invaluable set of skills that most graduates do not have.
7. What kind of work have you been doing since you have been with Blacks?
Ben: My supervisor and his team have been great. Over the 6 months that I have spent in my first ‘seat’, the work has been extremely varied. I have completed a number of tasks including:
-reviewing and answering legal enquiries raised in respect of a property;
- exchanging contracts to make a transaction legally binding;
- liaising with various parties including banks, solicitors and clients over the phone, in writing and in person;
- sat in on a review of a file with our Compliance Officer; and
- other general tasks.
8. What is Blacks like to work for?
Ben: Blacks is a great firm to work for. I was extremely nervous at first, having never before worked full time in an office, however, everybody friendly and easy to get on with. A number of people went out of their way to say hello and have a chat about the scheme and Blacks. I even get a significant amount of contact with the managing partner, which I am told is quite rare in law firms. Furthermore, there are always opportunities to get to know colleagues and new people outside of work. In my first six months at Blacks, I have played football for the firm and attended the Christmas party. I have also been asked to play football again in March and attend another event. Further to the social aspect of the firm, I have enjoyed the work and feel comfortable in what I am doing.
For further information about our apprenticeship scheme, please contact:
Ruth Thompson, HR Manager