A day in the life of an apprentice – Katy Brown, HMRC

Inspiration from a school presentation

When I was in year 10 at school, a lady from a well-established law firm gave a talk to my class about a new career path into law; the apprenticeship route. I thought it was a good idea but still had in mind that I would go to University as I assumed this would be best.

I secured places at all of my chosen Universities which included some that are in the top 10 on the league table for studying Law. However, I only applied to University as a “back up” plan in case I was unsuccessful in getting myself an apprenticeship. In the end, I didn’t want to go to University for numerous reasons: I didn’t want to be away from home, I didn’t want to incur debt and I didn’t want to wait any longer to start real work and earn a real wage.

I sought advice before I made my decision

I contacted so many people for advice on the apprenticeship route because I wanted to know everything about it. The staff at CILEx Law School were very helpful and answered the 1000 questions I had. I also contacted CILEx students who were already undertaking the apprenticeship route and they were all very happy to talk to me and give advice. After finding out that with studying CILEx I can become a qualified Chartered Legal Executive and then go on to further qualify as a Solicitor, I knew this route was the one that I wanted to take.

The apprenticeship is giving me confidence

The apprenticeship is not what I expected at all, it is so much more. I thought that because I was joining the organisation straight from college and was only 18 years old, I would be given small tasks that didn’t carry a lot of responsibility. This has not been the case at all. Within my first month of my apprenticeship, I was drafting legal documents for my own cases. I had also taken my own hearings at the County Court at Central London before District Judges and the High Court of Justice before Registrars. I found these tasks very daunting at first but I have now gained so much confidence that I actually look forward to representing my organisation in court.

The work is rewarding and challenging

I find the work that I am involved in very interesting. No two days are the same and there is always something for me to do. I have not found the work simple or easy which is great because I enjoy challenging myself. I have also had a lot of learning to do in regards to tax and how it works as I will admit I knew very little about it prior to starting my role! My organisation are very supportive and there are always different learning seminar’s taking place for people to continuously improve. You also get to meet people from all walks of life who have different jobs and aspirations. I have spoken to various Lawyers, Barristers and Senior Civil Servants who all were happy to share their experiences and give me advice.

An invaluable experience

The experience I have gained already in 6 months is unbelievable. I have learned how to draft documents such as witness statements, applications, consent orders, draft orders and petitions. I have learned how to conduct myself in court and also how to communicate with the opposition outside of the court rooms. I have also gained experience on how to manage my own files, deal with court deadlines and communicate effectively with my clients. Working in a professional legal environment is valuable experience that I will have with me for life now.

An apprenticeship means no university debt

I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship route to anyone who doesn’t want to go to University and incur a heavy debt. I have spoken to various lawyers in my organisation and have asked for their opinion on the new route. All of them have said that they think this is a fantastic idea and will enable people to gain valuable skills in professional legal environments. A few of the younger lawyers have even expressed how they wish they had taken the CILEx route to a career in law as they would not still be paying off their University debt.

The benefits of being mentored

Working in a legal environment is a great way to build connections with people who have already achieved what you want to when you are older. It is great to be able to ask for advice from people who were once in your position and they can guide you in the right direction.

An opportunity to fulfill my childhood ambition

My plan is to continue studying CILEx after my apprenticeship and qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive, then I would like to further go on to qualify as a Solicitor.

This article was published for National Apprenticeship Week 2017