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Law Apprenticeships Guide

Meet the Apprentice

updated on 20 May 2022

Chris Howes is a solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown International LLP

Millie Aish is a paralegal apprentice at RPC

Chris is in the third year of the solicitor apprenticeship programme at Mayer Brown International LLP.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

I had previously considered a career in law and this apprenticeship was a good compromise between work and education. At the time that I began applying, I had been out of education for a year and didn’t feel that I wanted to go back into an environment that was entirely focused on academia, or that a traditional university experience was the right option for me. An apprenticeship seemed like a good opportunity to get a degree, work and make a positive and tangible difference.

What is a typical day at work like?

One of the big positives of undertaking the solicitor apprenticeship at Mayer Brown is that we change seats every six months. As a result, the work is very varied and it’s difficult to describe a typical day. I currently work in the pensions team and undertake a wide variety of different tasks. I conduct a lot of legal research, looking through legislation and documents to try and find the answers to questions and/or problems posed by clients. A lot of my work also involves drafting emails and other correspondence, as well as producing articles and updates that are distributed to clients and other interested parties. I also try to take an active role within the life of the firm; I am currently sitting on the firm’s Charity Partners and NextGen committees, and getting involved with pro bono and corporate social responsibility work.

How have you found juggling work with your study days?

As apprentices, we have one day a week out of the office, on which we attend online lectures. We also have preparation and consolidation work that must be completed around those lectures. I’m managing well with the studying aspect of the programme so far and have not yet had to study outside of that day a great deal, except when I’ve had upcoming exams or coursework deadlines. I am conscious that as the demands of work and the course increase, it might become more difficult to balance the two – although I am pleasantly surprised with how it’s turned out so far.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

It’s been very enjoyable studying areas at university that I have already come across at work. I learn best through doing things and my job brings classroom topics, such as the theory of contract, to life in a practical way. The fact that we rotate around the firm also gives us the chance to build really strong relationships with people in different practice areas, which is great on both a professional and a personal level.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

It’s a big commitment. It’s important to keep motivated and focused on the end goal, while making the most of what you’re doing throughout the six years of the apprenticeship.

In addition, make sure that you fully research each firm’s individual apprenticeship programme before applying – they’re not all the same! One of the major advantages of an apprenticeship at Mayer Brown is that we rotate every six months and are exposed to a wide variety of skills and areas of law. However, at other firms you might stay in the same area for four years. You should think about what you want in a job and what you want to spend the next six years doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to gain a greater understanding of what the programme entails. Above all though, a solicitor apprenticeship is a great opportunity – embrace and make the most of it!

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

Paralegal apprentice Millie shares insights into her day-to-day work at RPC and offers advice to those in the throes of choosing their next steps.  

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

I didn’t realise apprenticeships existed in the legal sector until I attended my A-level options evening. It was there that I spoke to an ex-student who had completed an apprenticeship.

After lots of work experience in several sectors, I found that practical hands-on learning suited me – a style of learning that the apprenticeship route offers. It also provides a rounded and beneficial insight into the sector because you’re embedded in the industry and are at the forefront of cases, unlike the university route, which is quite theoretical. Candidates develop soft skills and learn from top role models who will likely become part of their professional network.

What is a typical day at work like?

There’s no such thing as a typical day. I work in a team of paralegals and apprentices who support the rest of the teams across the firm’s Bristol and London offices. We get lots of different types of work coming in – for example, one day you could be working on an employment tribunal bundle and the next day you could be dealing with a professional negligence claim.

The apprenticeship route offers so much exposure to various areas of the law, so you’re constantly learning.

How have you found juggling work with your study days?

I have a good balance between work and studying. The firm gives us one day a week to complete our studying and because of the route the firm picked for my cohort, we don’t have any exams until the end of our apprenticeship. I find that I rarely have to study outside of the study day, apart from occasionally having to finish some of the reading. The firm always encourages us to not use our work laptop and not check work emails so we can dedicate this period to studying.

The previous apprentices are also always available to discuss the studying side of the apprenticeship, which is invaluable.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

There are so many amazing aspects to being an apprentice. The variety of work is definitely one of those. Plus, our colleagues are so supportive – the partners and senior associates pay a lot of interest into this route and our careers. As a result, we’re given opportunities to develop and learn, and are supported in doing this, even if it is a task that is maybe at the top end of our ability. We are also encouraged to develop our soft skills through client events and social events. There are lots of educational talks too – you can get involved in as many as you want.

The overarching aspect that I enjoy the most is the firm’s supportive, friendly and collaborative ethos.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

The golden rule with applications is research. Find out what a law apprenticeship is, which firms offer them and make sure it’s the right route for you. After this, conduct research into your shortlisted firms and the areas of law in which they work. Look into the firm’s values and hold these in mind when completing your application – show how your values are in line with the firm’s. You’ve got to ascertain whether the firm is the right fit for you too and conducting this research will help.

Candidates should also illustrate the skills that the firm is looking for in its future apprentices. Use the job description and provide evidence of the skills you possess, whether that’s via your involvement in sports teams or part-time work. And, finally, remember to get someone to read your application before you send it.