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Law Apprenticeships Guide

Meet the Apprentice

updated on 24 August 2023

Cyril Lekgetho is a first-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown

Esther Farley is a third-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown International LLP

Cyril Lekgetho is a first-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown. He’s currently studying in the employment (global legal projects) department.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

The prospect of having six years of sector-specific experience prior to qualifying as a solicitor was a big draw for me. It presented an opportunity to make industry connections and grow a professional network, work alongside the brightest minds in the profession on complex matters and earn a wage from an early age.

What is a typical day at work like?

In my current seat, there’s a lot of communication between international offices and clients and, on many occasions, I’ve been tasked with contacting overseas offices to:

  • request information
  • share documents; and
  • make business proposals.

Drafting is also a large aspect of my day-to-day work; I’ve helped draft client guides, articles, letters of advice, emails and even scripts, to name a few. Of course, all the above must be proofread, which is also a necessary task. 

Both internal and external meetings and training sessions take place regularly to aid professional development and expose apprentices to distinct aspects of practice (eg, pro bono sessions).

How have you found juggling work with your study days?

Effective time management is an important skill when it comes to juggling work with studying; however, I’ve found that the allocated time for studying, and the study leave that’s granted in advance of an exam, has been sufficient and allowed me to apply myself fully to both work and study. That said, personal effective time management is incredibly important.

Will you be qualifying via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam?

Yes, I’ll commence the SQE in my final year of the apprenticeship.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

As previously mentioned, working alongside talented minds in the profession and learning from them directly and via osmosis has been very fulfilling. I’ve also enjoyed being exposed to different sides of the business that a trainee solicitor wouldn’t typically get to see, like the business services departments where apprentices spend the first year of the scheme.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

The solicitor apprenticeship is a six-year commitment, as such I’d advise in favour of researching the legal profession fully to determine whether it’s the right path for you – this can be done virtually and in person by attending insight days and seminars/webinars, completing internships, and simply reaching out to existing apprentices to hear their experiences.

Esther Farley is a third-year solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown International LLPShe’s currently in the litigation construction department.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

By the time I finished sixth form, I was unsure if I wanted to continue with full-time education and I didn’t like the idea of accumulating student debt at university. So I took a year out to consider my options and got a job in a local estate agent, where I really enjoyed working in an office and earning a wage. I then applied to various legal apprenticeships around the country and was eventually offered my place with Mayer Brown.

What is a typical day at work like?

When I’m in the office, I arrive at work at around 9:15am and start working on my tasks for the day. This can be anything from drafting documents, legal research, reviewing legislation, to client correspondence and meetings, or observing hearings or mediations. I will often meet with trainee solicitors at lunch or go for a walk before returning for the afternoon.

The kind of work I do varies widely depending on the department I’m sitting in and the matters they’re working on at the time. As apprentices move around the firm every six months, it’s very interesting to see so many different practice areas and experience new fields of law. There are also lots of opportunities to get involved with pro bono work, which allows me to take on more responsibility than my normal client work, and other diversity and inclusion initiatives within the firm.

How have you found juggling work with your study days?

As apprentices, we have one day a week to study and attend university. This day typically involves preparation work, followed by an online lecture, and then some consolidation work to solidify the material we’ve covered. We also have termly coursework to demonstrate the work we do each day and what we’re learning at the firm. The lead up to exams or coursework deadlines can be challenging as we might have to use more of our own time to revise and prepare. Generally, though, it’s manageable to balance work with study and Mayer Brown put apprentices in business services departments for their first year to give them time to find this balance.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

For me, the most enjoyable part of my apprenticeship is learning practically how to be a lawyer from some of the best individuals in their fields. When my peers left university with their law degrees, they often didn’t have much legal work experience and struggled to get jobs in law as a result. I, on the other hand, work full time in a global law firm with direct client contact, increasing responsibilities and the opportunity to observe colleagues daily who are professional role models.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

My advice would be to spend some time researching firms that offer apprenticeships and visiting them to find offices where you feel the working environment and culture will allow you to be successful. There are many firms with different cultures, values and sizes, but they won’t all suit everybody, so it’s invaluable that you do your research. Similarly, work experience is useful to discover which kinds of legal work you find interesting and areas that you might not have thought about getting involved in, as well as building your CV and transferable skills ahead of applying for apprenticeships.

Find out more about Mayer Brown’s articled route to qualification programme.