A day in the life of an apprentice – Holly O’Farrell, Clyde & Co

A conventional path didn’t work for me

I was a good student at school and, as per teacher recommendations; I went to university to study History and English Literature with a view to then taking the GDL. I found out quickly that it wasn’t for me. I worked in retail for a few years unsure about my next steps before discovering the apprenticeship route. I realised the practicalities of being able to earn whilst learn was ideal for someone who was living alone and couldn’t afford to undertake something like an unpaid internship in order to get their foot in the door of the industry in which they were interested.

My apprenticeship has given me direction

My apprenticeship has completely changed the trajectory of my life. I had 5 good A Levels but was working in a shop stacking shelves, trying to live on a minimum wage salary with low contract hours and, most importantly, feeling completely without direction. I now have a job where I don’t dread coming into work every day. I feel challenged and motivated. I am learning new skills every day, earning a respected qualification (paid for by my employers), making friends and gaining experience that I had never realised was open to someone without a degree.

I feel empowered and respected

I feel empowered and respected in a way I haven’t experienced before in any paid work I have undertaken and, essentially, have been able to support myself independently due to earning a good wage throughout this period of change. I currently work in the Catastrophic Injury and Large Loss team and spend my days assisting on cases worth millions of pounds. I’m involved in everything from reviewing the file at its inception, drafting client reports, assessing liability, researching case law, reviewing medical records or other disclosure, attending conferences, Joint Settlement Meeting’s and Hearings and drafting legal documents like instructions to counsel etc.

My career looks set to grow from strength to strength

I am hoping to continue in my employment at Clyde & Co once my apprenticeship contract ends and continue with the CILEx qualification. I haven’t yet decided which area of law I would like to ultimately specialise in but I understand that Clyde’s will continue to support me with that decision.

The enormous benefits of an apprenticeship

The apprenticeship has been of enormous benefit to me. I was unlikely to ever have been able to quit retail work and retrain without the safety of the apprenticeship scheme. It has allowed me to earn a living wage whilst being supported through a work-based learning programme. This has helped me thrive -being able to apply, day-to-day, the theoretical knowledge taught to me by CILEx Law School in a practical environment under the supervision of, and as part of, an incredibly supportive team of qualified lawyers has been invaluable.

Therefore I would not hesitate to recommend an apprenticeship to anyone. Going on to higher education can be a wonderful experience for many but for those, like me, who were or are unsure university can be an expensive mistake to make. If it doesn’t work out as intended it can leave you in debt and without direction.

Apprenticeships are not just for students with low grades

Apprenticeships are not at all the remit only of those who are unable to attain highly at school and it is important for any aspiring young person, whether law is your interest or not, to make informed choices about your future. I am keen to prove that an academically able student is not a failure for not attending university and that apprenticeships are a viable and respectable alternative for any student who is ambitious and willing to learn, no matter what their circumstances.

This article was published for National Apprenticeship Week 2017