Apprenticeships – what work will I do?

Six months into their apprenticeships, five apprentices from Clyde & Co report on the work they do. The apprenticeship also includes formal training in law, legal practice and workplace skills through CILEx Law School.

My seat is in Marine and International Trade, which was a completely new aspect of the law for me. I feel that I am very lucky to be able to work in such an interesting department, which is also very complex and challenging. I help my colleagues with a lot of their workloads; I have recently been drafting claims letters, and calling third parties from across the globe, as well as producing arbitration bundles for Tribunal. I also help with billing and checking invoices to be sent to our clients. I feel very privileged to be able to have such an involved role, after only being with the team for six months.

In my job, I enjoy learning, as it is a constant learning process throughout my apprenticeship. It is brilliant to know that I am trusted by my colleagues to carry out tasks for them, and I always like to receive their feedback, knowing how and where I can improve. However, I do find the long days hard, as my hours at school and college were not as long. Nevertheless, it is all part of working, and there are always tasks to be done, therefore my days do go quickly.

The recruitment process

After applying to university, I was curious as to what other routes into a legal career were available, and that is when I found Vision apprenticeships on the internet, listing a whole range of on apprenticeships. I firstly applied to another firm and was in the final three for that position, however in the meantime an apprenticeship scheme was advertised for Clyde & Co, so I applied, and was amazed by the size and reputation of the firm on the open day.

The recruitment process was a long one, however it was well worth it and gave me an insight as to what to expect. Once I had submitted my CV and some initial assessment answers, I had to complete a telephone interview; after passing that I was asked to complete online exams in maths, English and IT. I had to pass the assessments at a certain level, in order for my application to continue. I was then contacted again, and told I would be contacted by Clyde & Co if they wanted to interview me. They did. The final selection of us were asked into one of two assessment days, and during these days we had an interview, a written task based on breach of contract, and a pitch to some of the Manchester office partners. I found this experience fantastic, as it enabled me to show my abilities and knowledge of the law I had already developed. Also, it allowed us to gain a better awareness of what would be involved in our apprenticeship – if we got the position. All the way through the application process I didn’t once feel scared, as all the recruitment team and the other employees I met were really helpful, and wanted to see us succeed. I was then contacted by one of the firm’s equity partners and was told I had the job – I was so happy! Before we had signed our contracts we were invited to the Manchester office’s summer BBQ. It was here that I was able to speak to some of the trainees and remove any fear I had of entering the world of work. Also, I was able to get to know my fellow apprentices, which was only the start of some great friendships I have made in just six months. European Union Social Fund

The first three works of working at Clyde & Co were spent in ‘suit camp’. This was an excellent way for me to get to know the variety of departments at the firm, as well as getting to know people who weren’t in my team, so that now there are a lot of helpful familiar faces. Suit camp involved working with different departments in order to gain an understanding of what they did within the firm, and what their roles entailed. For me, it has helped when I have had queries in my day to day job, as I know the correct people to go to with any problems that may arise. Also, we visited the London office in order to see the actual size and reputation of the firm we were to be working for, which was really worthwhile.

I work in one of the Catastrophic Injury teams. These are generally very large loss cases. On these cases I help my team by completing tasks for them such as researching case law, phoning all other parties such as the claimant solicitors, counsel and the clients. I also have been to Court-mandated conferences and joint settlement meetings writing notes. These are just some of the jobs that I complete for my team. While I am completing these tasks it is helping me gain a real knowledge of how the cases are run and the process they go through.

I enjoy completing the research tasks mainly because I have a genuine interest in the law and old case precedents fascinate me. I also enjoy phoning counsel as I feel like it is quite an important task. I also enjoy going out to things such as joint settlement meetings as I get to see the other side of the law where the arguments are brought to life rather than on paper.

I have found it difficult to cope with the large amount of workload. However this is a positive because even though it was tough at the start, I have now gained more knowledge and confidence from the amount of work I have received.

At my current seat, I work for Admiral Insurance. If someone insured by Admiral is liable for a collision, the file will come to our team to sort out the damages which should be awarded. In some of the cases both liability and quantum is in dispute. I’m fortunate enough to have some of my own files which all involved minors who have been injured in accidents.

I really enjoy working within my team; I find the work very interesting on a daily basis. At the beginning I really struggled as people weren’t sure what I was capable of doing and what was too difficult but after a couple of weeks I was busy with lots of different types of work and felt completely settled.

I was placed in the Industrial Disease Team which deals with a range of diseases from stress at work and repetitive strain injury to deafness and asbestos related illnesses. Due to the complexity of the work in my team, I first started off by assisting the fee earners in research and drafting letter and documents however I have now my own caseload where I am the file handler. Although this sounds quite a lot of responsibility considering how junior I am, I never feel alone, my supervisor and the rest of my team are always available for support and to answer any questions I may have.

Sometimes it can be difficult to balance my workload and my studies, but we have Friday afternoons as ‘Study Leave’ where all the apprentices go to a meeting room in the office to study for our exams/ complete work for our competency units, which I find a good time to ensure I am up-to-date with my CILEx work. My team is very understanding about this and know that this is protected time where I should only be studying, not working and we manage to adjust my workload accordingly.

Overall, I am very happy with the way this apprenticeship is developing and I feel I have achieved a lot in my first six months at Clyde & Co. I am thoroughly enjoying my time here and looking forward to it continuing!