This is the Ashurst profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Ashurst profile.
Historic, international, and with a ‘silver-circle feel’, Ashurst is an established name in the world of City law. Perfect for hopeful apprentices attracted to commercial law and finance, most of the outfit’s revenue is generated within five key areas: banks and private capital, real estate, technology, infrastructure, and energy and resources. Although an international City law firm, Ashurst is said to have a more ‘relaxed’ and less managerial culture than some of its corporate counterparts. Lucky Ashurst apprentices are based at the firm’s swanky offices in the London Fruit and Wool Exchange, boasting views over Spitalfields Church, and equipped with a gym and wellbeing suite.
Speaking on why she chose the solicitor apprenticeship route, one fifth-year Ashurst apprentice says: “I knew I’d be able to develop my legal knowledge and skills four years sooner than on the ‘traditional university route’.” With newly qualified apprentices coming out with six years of working legal experience under their belts, it’s a no-brainer for those attracted to a more “practical route to qualification”, she adds. And it comes with the added benefit of working and studying in sync. “I was keen to work in practice alongside studying for the law degree because they feed into each other”, she tells us. “While I was working in corporate transactions, I could put my contract and business law modules into practice in real-time.”
Drilling into the details of the Ashurst solicitor apprenticeship, recruits are assigned to one department for the first four years of the programme, before beginning six-monthly rotations around the firm’s practice areas for the final two. We asked one seasoned apprentice how they made the big decision to join the corporate transactions team as a school leaver. “I did so much research on what was involved in each practice area, and I chose corporate because it’s so broad,” they tell us. “Corporate is also where the big, juicy transactions occur.”
“It’s been absolutely incredible at my age to do the kinds of work that I’ve done over the course of the apprenticeship”, she enthuses. And for this lucky recruit, there were no regrets over working in the corporate department for four years. “I love corporate; the department and the people. Corporate is like my home,” she says. Ashurst apprentices can expect to be close to the action. “My favourite matters to work on were the Morrisons take-over, and the Thomas Cook restructuring. It’s so exciting to work for these massive names. I felt like I’d made it!” Not too shabby for a 21-year-old apprentice!
In terms of the level of responsibility that apprentices at Ashurst can expect, “there was a real mix”, one insider explains. “You have to start off with the basics, which means building up from more admin, paralegal-style tasks.” So, the first couple of years at Ashurst as an apprentice can involve its fair share of admin work – but we’ve all got to start somewhere, right? However, the beauty of working in the same team for four years is that recruits are quickly trusted to handle more responsibility, we are told. “Over time, and as you build experience within the team, you can throw yourself into tasks which would be given to trainees who are two years your senior”.
Apprentices can also expect to be guided with a gentle hand. “Luckily as an apprentice I find that when I’m given trainee-level tasks, I get any additional support that I need because my team know that I’m still apprenticing,” they explain. “I’m still learning.”
There’s also clearly no shortage of secondment opportunities for would-be solicitors at Ashurst. “I’m flying off to Madrid next week for six months!”, one excited year five apprentice reveals. These international office secondments, as well as UK client secondments with some of firm’s big-name clientele, are offered to lucky recruits even as soon as the second year of the apprenticeship. So, adventurous apprentices can look forward to jetting off to one of the firm’s 30 international locations.
And the social life at the firm isn’t too shabby either. “I thought I’d have no social life and that I’d be sacrificing the ‘uni experience’ – but that is sooo not the case,” our informant explains. “We have regular socials and we do an annual ski trip. In previous years we’ve gone to France and Austria.” And on top of that, “there are loads of away days.” In less jargon-y words: there are loads of days where you can get out of the office and ‘team-bond’. “The global loans team just went to Spain on their away day,” they add. “Separately, I spend loads of time with friends I’ve made from work outside of the office too”, she says. Apprentices at Ashurst form strong bonds within their training cohort, we are told. “I’m such good friends with all of the apprentices, and we even go on holidays together!”
On the studying side of things, an interviewee assures us that doing a law degree one day per week is “not challenging as such” in terms of the content. The real challenge tends to come from a time perspective. “I have always enjoyed studying”, she says, “but the main difficulty is trying to find the time – you must plan your time very well as an apprentice. And to get the most out of it, you must be equally committed to your studying as you are to your work.”
She says that the weekly submissions for each module – a requirement of the LLB with The University of Law (ULaw) – tend to keep you on track, though. “You can’t drop the ball with your submissions, so you learn very quickly how to effectively manage your time.” She has found that her studying has tended to spill over her allocated study day, particularly going into her sixth year of the apprenticeship. Nevertheless, she emphasises, “this is one of the trade-offs of doing a degree for free while earning a salary”.
When asked about what makes the Ashurst apprenticeship special, the supportive culture of the firm is apparently at the forefront. “Being one of the first firms to take on apprentices, the scheme is very well organised, thought out and supportive,” our spy tells us. “It’s a very collaborative environment – you’re never alone.” The “work hard, play hard” culture at Ashurst is evident, the apprentice tells us, but with an “amazing” support system to boot.
This is Ashurst’s Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Ashurst’s full Legal Cheek profile here.