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LCN Says

My dos and don’ts for legal apprenticeships

updated on 08 February 2022

Reading time: five minutes

I enrolled on a Level 7 solicitor apprenticeship at Marks and Spencer (M&S) in 2018. Three and a half years later, it’s safe to say my knowledge has grown exponentially.

Without a doubt, choosing to pursue an apprenticeship was the best decision for me; I entered the professional workplace at the age of 18 and was immediately immersed into an environment full of knowledge, creativity and inspiration, which has allowed me to grow and thrive. I am due to graduate with my law degree this year, before starting the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) in September. I will ultimately qualify as a solicitor in 2024, all with no university debt and six years of experience under my belt.

Read LCN’s Law Apprenticeships Guide 2022 to find out more about law apprenticeships and identify whether this is the right route for you!

My favourite parts of my apprenticeship are the experiences I have gained and the professionals I have worked with so early in my career. I love seeing the work I complete take shape in the real world when I visit M&S stores and knowing that my advice has been used to help make decisions within the business. Also, working alongside a multitude of different professionals at such an early stage has given me lots of inspiration to shape my own future.

For the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of legal apprenticeship opportunities across the UK, check LCN’s list of current vacancies.

In light of National Apprenticeship Week 2022, I have reflected on my experiences as a solicitor apprentice and created a list of ‘dos and don’ts’, which I hope can help to prepare those wishing to embark on a legal apprenticeship in the future.  


Be prepared to learn a lot

It’s true that every day is a school day. I always take note of things I have learned, big or small, so I can refer back to them later if similar circumstances arise again.

Remember that your colleagues are there to help you so leaning on them and asking questions is always okay. You won’t just develop professionally, but personally too; I have gained immense confidence, maturity and self-awareness since starting my role, and am still learning and adapting every day.

Be prepared to make mistakes but, more importantly, learn from them

It’s okay if you don’t become  an expert overnight! This was difficult for me to accept at first, and probably still is to some extent. Making mistakes made me feel like a liability but they really are the best way to learn. As long as you act appropriately to fix the error and change your approach next time, all will be fine.  

Stay organised

I often get asked how I balance my work, study and life, and the answer is always organisation. I rely on to-do lists and weekly planners to manage and schedule my time. The study workload is challenging at times, and falling behind makes it even more difficult, so ensure you stay up to date by following a structured approach – this way you will still have time for ‘life’ too.

To find out more on how to maintain a work/life balance, read this LCN Blog: ‘Simple ways to improve your work/life balance.’

Use your annual leave to unwind

To me, time off is essential. It’s easy to get into a routine of continuous working and studying especially with an increasing workload as you get more experienced. However, having time to relax, reflect and recover is vital. It means you can return to the workplace refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges. I always take time off after a set of exams to release the stress before diving straight back into work.  


Don’t underestimate the importance of networking

Networking is a key feature of working life. Whether that be with colleagues, clients or external professionals. You will be introduced to many different groups of people throughout your apprenticeship, take this in your stride and use the opportunity to spark interesting conversations. I always make time to catch up with my colleagues and I’ve found that small pieces of information picked up in quick chats can turn into great collaborations and projects. As such, networking is something I will always prioritise.

To find out more about networking, read this LCN Feature: ‘LawCareers.Net’s guide to networking.’

Don’t undervalue your ideas

Just because you are junior, or a new starter doesn’t mean your ideas are inferior. Having fresh eyes often allows you to bring a different perspective to the table, and no one should ever disregard your thoughts.

Apprenticeships give you the freedom to get involved in new and exciting projects and sitting quietly and not immersing yourself will only serve you with injustice. So, have the confidence to get involved and say your piece.

Don’t be afraid to say “no”

When you’re a junior member of the team, it’s easy to become a ‘yes’ person and let your workload pile up. This is okay if your workload is manageable, but you will soon learn that taking on too much work can lead to you producing less favourable results.

If your workload is too much and someone asks you to take on more, it’s always better to either say you are busy at the moment or give an extended deadline than to just say “yes”. Communication is key in these circumstances.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Although it can feel daunting, asking for help is always okay and nobody will expect you to know the answers without asking questions. Remember, the whole point of an apprenticeship is to ‘learn on the job’ and you can’t do that without asking questions and learning from others.

Time to reflect

The above is only some of the lessons I have learned over the past four years, and I continue to learn more every day. Apprenticeships are an exciting and refreshing addition to any workplace, and being an apprentice is an incredible opportunity which I will always be grateful for. If you have any apprenticeship questions, please feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn or Instagram.

Tia Treble (she/her) is a Level 7 solicitor apprentice training in Marks & Spencer’s in-house legal team.