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Law Apprenticeships Guide

Meet the Apprentice

updated on 14 September 2021

Chris Howes is a solicitor apprentice at Mayer Brown International LLP

Ami Chillcott is a first-year solicitor 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.


Ami Chillcott is a first-year solicitor apprentice at RPC, having first undertaken a two-year paralegal apprenticeship with the firm. She works in the matter support team and is currently on placement in the E-Discovery team. RPC’s solicitor apprenticeship lasts for six and a half years and comprises of around six placements.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship? 

As the working world becomes increasingly competitive, I wanted to put myself a step ahead on the career ladder, which is why I ventured into apprenticeships. The combination of practical experience and academic learning makes for an invaluable beginning to any career. Throughout the apprenticeship scheme, I apply my studies to my day-to-day work to solidify my understanding of the law. In addition, working for a prominent firm at the start of your career enables you to understand the soft skills that can be hard to learn at university.

What is a typical day at work like?

I currently work in the matter support team which is essentially a pool of paralegals who are available to all departments, at any office, for whatever work is needed. The team also offer placements and I am currently in our E-Discovery team helping associates complete litigation tasks using online platforms. RPC’s apprenticeship system means I am always delving into different disputes and my tasks are always changing, giving me broad experience.

How have you found juggling work with your study days?

As an apprentice I have one day off a week to complete university work. This consists of readings, watching videos, consolidating my knowledge and practical experience, and occasionally completing submitted unit tests which are marked, with feedback provided. I have found balancing my work and studies manageable and have rarely had to venture outside of my allotted study hours, unless I want to do some extra reading. Having already undertaken a paralegal apprenticeship, I learnt how to manage my study days and complete work in the most effective way. RPC is extremely accommodating of my university work – I am always given time to study, even if that requires moving other tasks around.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice?

The most enjoyable aspect of being an apprentice is developing through the opportunities and responsibility you are given. When commencing my apprenticeship scheme, I never expected to be as trusted and supported as I was. I am now given extremely important tasks, and regularly offered chances to learn and push myself. This keeps me engaged and excited about my job, despite the challenges and commitment it also requires.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

My biggest piece of advice is to research the various apprenticeships available. Apprenticeship opportunities are expanding each year so explore your options to identify the apprenticeship that will suit your career objectives. Second, get to know the firms that you’re considering applying to; understand the types of matters they deal with, and the areas of law they cover. This is important as, if you want to work in a particular part of law, one firm may be more appropriate to you than another. Similarly, look at how a firm’s apprenticeship programme runs. In joining RPC, I had to complete a two-year paralegal apprenticeship before moving to the solicitor one. I chose to do this instead of moving directly into the solicitor apprenticeship scheme so I could gain confidence and find out whether I really wanted to commit myself to the course. Above all, give the apprenticeship route a chance. It has been the best decision I ever made.