Why did you decide to do a legal apprenticeship?
I started a German and Spanish degree at university with the intention of becoming an interpreter. I dropped out at the end of the first semester because I did not like the university learning experience and realised that I only went to university because all my friends were going.
A friend recommended a receptionist job at my previous firm, which is how I started working in the legal sector. In my interview we briefly discussed the possibility of me doing an apprenticeship. However, I wanted to settle in first because I was coming from a retail job and was not sure if this would be a good fit for me.
My managers suggested that I should do a legal apprenticeship as they needed a Legal Assistant in the Family Department. As a result, within three months of starting I found myself enrolled onto the Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services, following the Family Practice pathway*. I was assisting the Family Department and was no longer a receptionist.
As an apprentice, I have much more responsibility than when I first started and really enjoy my job. The learning that I have been doing alongside my work has really benefited me and grown my confidence to be competent in what I do.
Since completing my Legal Services Apprenticeship, I have moved to a niche family law firm called Selby Lowndes Family Solicitors Ltd and I am now enrolled onto the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others, based on your experience?
I would recommend for others to do an apprenticeship because from the very first day you earn money while you learn. The hands-on experience of the sector in which you work is so useful when it comes to applying your learning to the job and really develops a better understanding of the law.
I did not want to stay at university because that is not the environment for me and the prospect of such a high level of student debt was very scary as well. My apprenticeship is paid for by my employers and therefore I have no debts from my studies. My salary, even as a trainee, is higher than the salaries of my friends who went to university and have graduate-level jobs.
How have you found studying with CILEx Law School?
I really enjoy the way that the distance-learning courses for the CILEx qualifications within the apprenticeship are provided; the webinars are so useful and interactive, and they definitely suit my style of learning better than the traditional classroom environment. I also really enjoy the study days and being able to meet my tutors and other apprentices.
The textbooks are so comprehensive and set out the law clearly and concisely. My colleagues and I often refer to the Family Law textbooks within our day-to-day work.
I find my off-the-job time so valuable and really helpful because it means I can focus solely on my work for four days of the week, knowing I can devote a whole day of the working week to my studies, and still have time to have a life outside of work hours and at weekends.
What are your career ambitions?
Before I started working in the legal sector, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. However, now that I am studying with CILEx Law School (CLS) and have the work experience of life in a Family Law firm, I intend to continue my studies with CLS and become a Chartered Legal Executive working in Family Law.
I like the idea of becoming a judge one day, which is open to Fellows of CILEx, and so will always keep this in mind as well. Once I am qualified, I will also think about working 3-4 days per week so that I could possibly volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
*Note: this apprenticeship has been withdrawn by the government and replaced by the Paralegal Apprenticeship, which offers a similar opportunity and incorporates the same CILEx Level 3 qualifications as the Advanced Apprenticeship.