updated on 26 August 2020
Chris is in the second 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.
Holly Moore is a fifth-year solicitor apprentice, currently in the ITV Network Legal and Business Affairs team at ITV. She will move around the business, with three one-year seats (a seat is a period of training in a particular department), four six-month seats, and two six-month seats at law firms.
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 careers website, CILEx and LawCareers.Net for information. I first read about paralegal apprenticeships, but then discovered the solicitor apprenticeship. It was the ideal combination of going to university to gain the correct qualifications, with the added benefit of six years’ work experience and no university debt!
What about the route appealed?
I get to apply the modules I’m studying at university in a very immediate way. For example, I studied contract law in my first year and every day at work I draft and negotiate a variety of contracts. I’m using my knowledge as I learn it, rather than having to wait for five years to apply it! Plus, working at ITV has been perfect for me – it offers everything I was looking for, including both in-house and private practice experience.
What do you do day to day?
I’m currently with the ITV Network team, which is the broadcasting arm of ITV. I work mainly on development and commissioning agreements with both internal and external producers across all genres, such as entertainment, factual and drama. I draft and negotiate these contracts, with the support of senior lawyers when necessary. Much of what I do is the same level of work as the trainees, which feels great and really rewarding.
What do you most enjoy – and find the most challenging – about your apprenticeship?
The most enjoyable part is working in a friendly and creative environment – it is fast-paced and challenging, and there is so much variety in the people I work with and the work I do; every day is different. There’s always a new show, contract or discussion and I’m involved with all of that, and learning what goes into creating a show, from start to finish. I also love studying all areas of law at uni!
The challenge is taking on a lot of responsibility at a young age; I came straight into this role after taking my A levels. It encouraged me to gain a level of maturity; 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 in terms 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.