Meet the Apprentice

Holly Moore is a solicitor apprentice at ITV
Laura Birks is a legal apprentice at Kennedys

Holly Moore is a solicitor apprentice, currently in the commercial and marketing legal affairs team at ITV. She will move around the business, involving three one-year seats (ie, a seat is a period of training in a particular department), four six-month seats, and two six-month seats at law firms Arnold Porter Kaye Scholar (litigation) and Slaughter and May (property).

How did you find out about/research the legal apprenticeship route?

I always knew that I wanted to be a lawyer, but I didn’t want to go to university full time and I did want to gain some practical work experience. I searched everywhere for alternative routes –I relied heavily on the government website, CILEx and LawCareers.Net for info. I first read about paralegal apprenticeships, but then discovered the solicitor apprenticeship. It was the ideal combination of going to uni to gain a qualification and six years of work experience.

What about the route appealed?

I get to transfer what I’m studying at uni in a very immediate way. For example, I’m learning contract law at the moment, and every day at work I’m involved with writing contracts. I’m using my knowledge as I learn it, rather than having to wait for five years to apply it! Plus, being at ITV has been perfect for me – it offers everything at once, including both in-house and private practice experience.

What do you do day to day?

I’m in the commercial marketing and legal team, working mainly on airtime and sponsorship contracts, confidentiality agreements and with the rights renewal team.I help to draw up contracts, supporting the more senior lawyers. Much of what I do is the same level of work as the trainees, which feels great. I’m also involved with the Legal Social Mobility Programme (LSMP), helping to organise events and getting information together.

What do you most enjoy – and find the most challenging – about your apprenticeship?

The best bit is working in this environment – everyone is so friendly, it is fast-paced and challenging, and there is so much variety; every day is different. There’s always a new contract or new discussion, and I’m involved with all of that. I also really love studying at uni!

The challenge is taking on a lot of responsibility at a young age; I’m only 19 and having left college last summer, I went straight into this, my first full-time job. It has made me mature; you have to manage your own workload and study, and ensure that you balance that with your life outside work. It doesn’t undermine how much I love it though – I would choose the exact same route if given the choice again. I am very lucky to have a supportive team around me.

What is your best piece of advice for those considering applying for a legal apprenticeship?

Do lots of research into the different routes. There are new apprenticeships becoming available all the time, so you need to seek that information out. And if you think that it might be right for you, then you have to engage fully; you can’t go into it in a half-hearted way. It requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice of time – it’s very different to full-time uni! It can be tough, because of the amount that you’re juggling, but it’s worth it and also has the advantage of being paid! Talk to careers advisers, email firms, talk to your teachers; the more research you do, the more you’ll be certain that it’s something you want to pursue.

Laura Birks is a legal apprentice at law firm Kennedys. She is currently completing the solicitor apprenticeship.

How did you find out about the legal apprenticeship route?

I never really intended to go to university, partly due to the costs involved. When I left school I joined a law firm which happened to be opposite Kennedys. I was considering doing some kind of apprenticeship, but always thought how great it would be if I could do an apprenticeship in law, as I was really enjoying working in the profession. I was in luck, as Kennedys was an early adopter of legal apprenticeships and I duly applied. I joined the firm as an apprentice in 2014 and have since progressed onto the solicitor apprenticeship along with my fellow apprentices.

What appealed to you about doing a law apprenticeship?

The chance to learn ‘on the job’. As an apprentice, I often learn about something one day and then actually apply it in the office the next, in contrast to university students who must study for a number of years before they can apply their skills. I’ve been working since I was 15 and an apprenticeship appealed to me more than going to university – I didn’t like the thought of not having money and getting into debt.

Six years is a big commitment, but no more so than the university route. A three-year degree, then a postgraduate course, then a two-year training contract also adds up to six years, the same as an apprenticeship – and that is if everything falls straight into place straightaway. I was a little concerned that I would miss out on the social aspect of  university, but the social side of the firm is great.

What do you do day to day?

The work I do is highly varied. I spend one day a week at university studying and four days a week working in the office. I started off doing admin, but I have progressed on to the equivalent of what a trainee or junior solicitor does – handling files, participating in conference calls, drafting documents and so on, all in collaboration with a partner.

What do you most enjoy – and find the most challenging – about your apprenticeship?

I’m happy that my career is already underway and that I get to apply what I learn in practice soon after I learn it, which I think is a great way of learning and developing skills. Plus I’ll be a qualified solicitor within a few years.

The most challenging aspect is fitting in all the study time. We get one day a week to attend university and study, but it is not enough to get everything done, so I often find myself leaving the office at 5:00pm and going home to study. It’s hard work!

What is your best piece of advice for people considering applying for a legal apprenticeship?

It’s important to appreciate that you will be doing a university degree while working at the same time. This means that you have to be committed and hard-working, but the rewards make the work well worthwhile.

For more detail, see Kennedys’s LawCareers.Net profile.