Apprentice in a UK top 20 law firm – Katie Wallett, Irwin Mitchell

I have been working as a Paralegal Apprentice for Irwin Mitchell for six months. I first thought of apprenticeships when I didn’t feel completely comfortable at the idea of going to university and was introduced to them by career advisors. I felt my sixth form really pushed students to go down the university route, so I was proactive and worked on my CV before attending careers and apprenticeship events in my local area.

I had already completed my application for university but the idea of an apprenticeship really appealed due to the added independence and ability to apply what I would be learning in the course directly to my work. I knew that this type of learning would suit me well, as my understanding of the theory taught in the course would be cemented by practical experience.

I submitted many applications to different law firms using the CILEx Law School website to find vacancies and booked careers advice appointments to help me with my interview and CV writing skills. When Irwin Mitchell rang me to tell me I was successful in securing an apprenticeship, I was overwhelmed and cried with happiness and relief! I proudly rejected my university offers, and have never looked back.

So far I have achieved many things during my apprenticeship; I have gained a sense of responsibility, confidence and independence. I have also experienced things I hadn’t expected, such as travelling to Birmingham, London, Sheffield and Manchester to work in Irwin Mitchell’s national offices, CILEx training days and conferences. I feel lucky that I am such a useful resource to my team and that the other fee earners regard me as an asset.

I am placed in the Commercial Real Estate department and get the opportunity to handle the original deeds and documents for the properties we are selling or purchasing on behalf of clients. As I am still new to my apprenticeship, and came with no background knowledge, I am relishing the opportunity to learn the processes required to carry out a transaction from start to finish. To start with I have been dealing with post-completion matters such as Stamp Duty Land Tax forms, along with registering documents on the Land Registry and drafting Completion Statements. Soon I will be taught the processes required at the very start of the transaction, and how important documents such as leases are drafted. I also get the opportunity to meet and liaise with clients by attending meetings and telephone conferences with my supervisor. I am also trusted with keeping them up to date with key developments via email and phone. The work I do, although it is at a basic level due to my recent start, carries with it a great deal of responsibility and I feel proud to be able to represent Irwin Mitchell.

Previously, I had never considered working in real estate, but when I was told that this is where the placement of the apprenticeship would be, I kept an open mind. I am so glad that I was placed in property as there is a wide variety of tasks available in the varying stages of the transaction. Furthermore, you are helping real people with an important part of their lives in the acquisition of properties, and seeing a successful end result for the client is very rewarding.

As I am now earning a wage, I can enjoy all the benefits that that brings, along with the satisfaction of making a real difference. I enjoy the course that CILEx Law School provides and feel lucky that there are such a wide variety of study resources available. I am grateful for the responsibility and trust the firm has in me at work, and I am so glad I don’t have any university debt!

I would most definitely recommend an apprenticeship. Often colleges and sixth forms push you to attend a university, but this is not the only way to qualify in law. An apprenticeship is a great way to start your career and show that you are determined and have high aspirations.

The Paralegal Apprenticeship also offers some CILEx Level 3 units. Once I have finished my current course, I hope to complete my CILEx Level 3 Diploma, and then move on to the Level 6 and qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.

This case study was published for National Apprenticeship Week 2017