Current apprentice Jessica Lee debunks some common misconceptions
I am an 18-year-old solicitor apprentice at CMS. Coming straight from sixth form into a global law firm has been an incredible experience thus far. With apprenticeships becoming an increasingly popular option for school leavers, it is important to explore the benefits of this up-and-coming route into qualification.
So, from a current solicitor apprentice, what are five reasons that school leavers should consider a solicitor apprenticeship?
1. You get to learn through real-world experiences
I am completing my first seat in the real estate transactions department. Despite only having been in the team for a month, I have already been involved in some incredible projects and tasks. Within a short space of time, I have learnt how deeds, leasing and client relationship building operates within a global firm. These experiences are so unique that you are instantly more engaged when it comes to learning and applying situations to the work set within your degree. This type of experience is not the type you can typically get by attending university; therefore, this is a strong reason to consider a solicitor apprenticeship.
2. University fees are fully funded by your employer
With university tuition fees being a gobsmacking total of £9,250 a year, it is no surprise that this degree funding is one of the most attractive benefits of a solicitor apprenticeship. The cost of your degree is covered entirely by your firm when you train as a solicitor apprentice. The worries concerning student debt, resource expenses and living costs can be put to rest if you select an apprenticeship route into law. All of this means that by the time you qualify you will be debt-free and can focus on other financial commitments.
3. You are able to earn whilst you learn
There is often a misconception surrounding the earnings of a solicitor apprentice. The minimum apprentice wage in the UK is £4.30 an hour. However, as a solicitor apprentice you are put on a yearly salary which can vary depending on the city you are located in. The typical salary in London, for a solicitor apprentice, begins at £20,000 a year. This will include a sustained salary increase throughout the six-year programme. For a newly qualified solicitor, a salary in London can be around £80,000 to £100,000 a year.
4. There’s no better environment to seek help within
Think about it, you are studying for a law degree, whilst in a law firm surrounded by lawyers. There is no better opportunity to seek help, which can benefit your education and understanding of law. No matter what seat you are in, you will be surrounded by some impressive people. With everyone in your close proximity being fully qualified, experienced and intelligent, you will have the best people around to assist with any queries you may have.
5. There are lots of opportunities to socialise
Another common misconception about solicitor apprenticeships is that you will not have a social life, as you will be ‘missing out on the university experience’. This again is not true at all but deters a number of people from applying for an apprenticeship.
Law firms place a large emphasis on the importance of socialising and networking, and so there are always several things you can get involved with. So far, I have attended several social events held my firm. I have been to drinks, lunches and pizza events so far, even attending networking events outside of my own department. As well as this, I have had responsibility planning events such as my department’s Christmas party this year. Every social opportunity you get is one that will benefit your career as you build connections across departments and teams. You are also given several opportunities to bond with your apprentice cohort, meaning you can build a solid network of friends within the firm.
The solicitor apprenticeship route into law is one which offers a variety of benefits. I would strongly encourage researching the apprenticeship route into law, as there are now so many firms offering positions. With hard work, determination and resilience, a solicitor apprenticeship can be accessible to all.
Jessica Lee is a solicitor apprentice at CMS. You can follow her journey on Instagram, @livinglifelegally.
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