Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week
National Apprenticeship week for 2024 has just begun, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our Apprentices and their supervisors, and the positive impact they have on our Firm.
To celebrate this week, we were keen to shine the spotlight on 2 of our Solicitor Apprentices, giving them the recognition that they deserve for the hard work they put in every day, both at the Firm and in their studies. Isobel Fensome and Alisha Afzal both joined us in 2018, immediately after completing their A-Levels, and have almost reached the end of their apprenticeships, qualifying as Solicitors in September 2024. Their route to qualification may be one that is less researched compared to the typical University route, so we’re excited to share this insight into their career journeys thus far.
Why did you choose the apprenticeship route?
It was during my A Levels at School that I realised university alone was not the best route for me. I was raised by an inspirational single mother, but financing university was not an option for us, and I did not want to get into debt to enter the profession. Further, the traditional route of qualification did not provide as much experience as I desired, and I valued gaining practical skills over academics alone.
I initially thought there was only the one route to becoming a Solicitor, however, by chance, I stumbled upon an online advertisement for a Solicitor Apprentice role. Intrigued, I researched into the apprenticeship model and discovered that it involved working four days a week at a law firm and attending university for one day over six years to gain both practical experience and a legal degree. This sounded like the perfect route to me given I have always learnt best through a combination of practice and theory.
How did you find it? (e.g. what was the process you took to find & apply for apprenticeships, attending interview etc.)
I found out about the Solicitor Apprentice route through my own research into routes into law. At the time, the Apprenticeship was newly released and very few firms were offering positions. In my first year of Sixth Form, I ensured I undertook a wide range of work experience to gain confidence in the workplace and stand out among other candidates. This included legal work experience at a local firm, as well as working with my local MP at Parliament.
My application process involved sending my CV to a variety of firms, many of whom were not offering a Solicitor Apprentice position, in an attempt to find a firm who would consider trying such a modern route. I attended interviews for a range of positions, and I utilised each of these to practice my interviewing technique and gain confidence in a formal setting.
In the spring of 2017, I was invited to an interview for a paralegal apprenticeship at Taylor Walton and, during this interview, I discussed the possibility of a Solicitor Apprentice. Taylor Walton explored this route and, following a subsequent interview, I was offered the position. I believe the key factor to stand out in the application process is to demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the opportunity and where possible to have some work experience.
I attended many school fairs and applied for a range of work placements to help me decide on my career. It was during these experiences, including vocational schemes and talks, that I decided I wanted to pursue a career within the legal field. I decided to apply Taylor Walton as they are a very reputable firm who also placed an emphasis on developing homegrown talent. Being a college student at the time, I recall feeling nervous about the interview process. Despite my initial qualms, I found the entire application process a positive experience. Those who interviewed me were friendly and wanted to get to know me as a person and why I wanted to be a Solicitor. So, if you are currently a student and are nervous about interviewing for apprenticeship roles, do not stress about not knowing everything – we all start from somewhere.
What have been your highlights/best bits? Would you recommend the apprenticeship and why?
My highlight of the Apprenticeship has been gaining experience in a wide range of departments. Taylor Walton encourages apprentices to have seats in a range of their departments and each of these present new skills and work methods. I’m now in my final year of the apprenticeship and feel confident moving towards qualification.
I would recommend the Apprenticeship. The Apprenticeship route integrates you into a firm far earlier than the traditional approach and exposes you to more experiences than your peers by the time of qualification. It requires dedication, but it is extremely rewarding and the skills you gain across the six years are invaluable.
Since joining the firm in September 2018, I have had the opportunity to gain experience in many areas of law through rotating seats in the firm. Some of which include seats in Commercial Property, Commercial Litigation, Family, Employment and more recently, in Private Client. Each seat has provided me with a sufficient amount of time to learn and master the expertise of each department, and I am currently really enjoying my experience in Private Client!
I feel the Solicitor Apprentice is the best route I could have chosen as I get to develop my knowledge working with experienced solicitors whilst obtaining my law degree and getting the university experience – it is the best of both worlds! I recently passed my law degree, achieving a first, and am now in the midst of studying for my SQE exams. Based on this invaluable exposure to both theory and practice, I would definitely recommend the Apprenticeship to anyone interested in pursuing a fulfilling career in law.
What is the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is attending client meetings. Many of these are attended alongside a Partner, which allow me to gain valuable skills by observing experienced colleagues and learn new solutions for complicated matters. I have had several opportunities to lead solo client meetings and have enjoyed utilising these skills to provide reassurance to clients.
The highlight for me, is the opportunity to engage with clients regularly. Being directly involved in matters where clients benefit from the firm’s legal advice and observing the positive outcomes of such advice is consistently the most rewarding part of my role. My subsequent dealings with satisfied clients are often the best part of my day.
We are so pleased to be able to offer various routes into law to suit individual students. This is why we’re so excited to announce that we are opening recruitment for 2 new Solicitor Apprentices to join us in September 2024. If you are coming to the end of your time at school or college, will have completed A Levels or the equivalent, and debating whether an apprenticeship is the right route for you, please take a look at our page for more information, and details on how to apply. If you have any questions, please do contact: Stephanie Simon, People & Talent Partner
Disclaimer: General Information Provided Only
Please note that the contents of this article are intended solely for general information purposes and should not be considered as legal advice. We cannot be held responsible for any loss resulting from actions or inactions taken based on this article.
Request a call back
We’ll arrange a no-obligation call back at a time to suit you.