Apprentice to Assistant: 22 months in the life of a Legal Apprentice

I started my apprenticeship at Morrisons Solicitors as a baby-faced 18 year old fresh out of sixth form. I had never worked full-time before, let alone in an office environment, and I was still coming to terms with the fact that I would never have a 6 week summer holiday again.

My apprenticeship began with an introduction to my CILEx Law School assessor. Needless to say I was nervous about meeting my assessor, imagining a strict, teacher-like individual. My assessor was far from this; she was cheerful, enthusiastic about my course and came armed with all the various ring binders, resources and materials I would need. My queries about distance learning were answered and I was given the contact details of CILEx Law School tutors whom I could contact if I had any questions. I didn’t need to contact the tutors often; but when I did they were friendly, knowledgeable and responded quickly.

There is a ‘family-like’ feel to our office, I was welcomed in by all members of staff and I quickly felt settled. Learning office etiquette is essential – this means that when it is your birthday you must bring in cake! I assist two Senior Associate Solicitors and they are always looking to challenge me. To date I have sat behind Counsel on a number of family law hearings, visited client’s homes in private client matters and handled a completion on a recent sale.

The apprenticeship involves completing two exams, two assignments and showing examples of a number of competency units. The competency units are designed to tie-in nicely with the everyday work of an apprentice. This includes drafting client care letters, archiving files in line with the firm’s policy, communicating with clients and other parties by telephone, email, letters and face-to-face and legal research.

The duration of the apprenticeship is typically 24 months, although I completed mine after 22 months. I have since been promoted to Administration Assistant and I am working towards the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice. Five of the units from my apprenticeship link into this Diploma so, already at the outset, I was half way through. I am taking my final Diploma exams in June and I hope to commence the CILEx Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice in September this year and continue the rest of the CILEx route to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.

And, finally, the part that all potential apprentices are interested in… yes, you do get paid! My first pay cheque was mostly spent on a new wardrobe of work clothes but I am the envy of all my uni-going friends as I have money in the bank. I would recommend the apprenticeship to anyone who is searching for a route into law without wanting to go to university.

by Samantha Hall

This case study was published for National Apprenticeship Week 2017