This is the Bird & Bird profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Bird & Bird profile.
Law firm Bird & Bird added its name to the list of City players embracing solicitor apprenticeships in 2023. With an undeniably techy offering, hopefuls can expect a taste of complex legal work across ten core sectors, which include aviation & aerospace, defence & security, life sciences & healthcare, and media, entertainment & sport. A global outfit, Bird & Bird – affectionately known as 2Birds — houses over 1400 lawyers across 30 offices worldwide, giving apprentices exposure to plenty of international work too. The firm recruits up to four apprentices each year within its London office.
Certain she wanted to pursue a career in law, one of Bird & Bird’s first-year apprentices explains why the pathways was so attractive. “I really valued the idea of getting practical work experience and on-the-job training alongside a university degree,” she reveals. “I personally learn best by applying theory to real-life situations, so the apprenticeship path was ideal.” On why the firm was the clear choice for her, she admits that it wasn’t just the techy that attracted her. “The firm is renowned for their IP practice, which was definitely a draw for me,” she admits, “but through meeting the firm during the application stages, it was also noticeable how friendly and approachable the people were.”
“It can sometimes be a cliché or typical answer [to laud the firm’s culture],” she tells Legal Cheek, “but in the case of Bird & Bird, it truly does apply. The people are super friendly; they’re always making conversation in the lifts or by the coffee bar, and these little things helped me feel welcome when I first joined as well as helping to integrate myself into the firm.”
Bird & Bird apprentices can expect to experience a whopping eight seat rotations over the course of the six-year programme. This gives recruits an insight into each of the firm’s practice areas, offering them a holistic view ahead of qualification. A traditional apprenticeship structure, the Bird & Bird scheme sees apprentices undertake four yearly rotations while they complete their part-time law degree, before moving onto a training contract for the final two years. The training contract portion comprises four six-monthly seats across the firm’s key practice areas.
Having spent her first five months in the firm’s employment department, one insider gives us an insight into a typical day. “My daily tasks tend to include attending client meetings, doing legal research, getting involved with internal projects, and assisting with tribunal claims,” she tells us. “So, it’s very varied, and no two days look quite the same.” Speaking about her highlights so far, she reveals, “I had the chance to visit an Employment Tribunal which was so interesting to see first-hand.” Not too shabby for an apprentice less than a year out of school!
When it comes to studying a law degree one day per week, this spy admits that it has been “a bit of a learning curve,” given that teaching styles at university tend to be very different to college. Nevertheless, she says, “I quickly learnt to manage my own time, which is a hugely valuable skill on the apprenticeship.” Giving her tips to hopefuls, she says, “my advice to new apprentices is to not be alarmed if studying is taking you longer than expected or if you are feeling overwhelmed. It takes time and practice at the start, and you will find your feet with things after a short while so don’t put too much pressure on yourself!”
But it’s not all work and no play here, with an inclusive and varied social scene at the firm. Our apprentice co-chairs the Muslim Faith Group, just one of the faith groups at the firm. “Being a part of this community at work has allowed me to meet new people and get that sense of inclusion – of being able to bring my whole self to work,” she reveals. “There are also a variety of networks that anyone can be a part of,” she explains, including the Embrace network, which is dedicated to racial and ethnic diversity, StandOut which is the LGBTQ+ network, NeuroNetwork which is dedicated to anyone who has a neurodiverse condition or is impacted by it, and Beyond Backgrounds which is the social mobility network. Having these inclusion networks is clearly a big draw factor for this apprentice.
Sporty hopefuls can also get involved in the firm’s netball and football teams which hold weekly matches (if they’re not having lunches or dinners with their team!) “The opportunity to go to socials, like the firm-wide monthly events on the 11th floor, have been really great opportunities to get to know everyone at Bird & Bird, even those who are outside of your team,” an insider reveals. With apprentices at the firm being close-knit, “having lunch together all the time,” there is no space for uni FOMO – especially with apprentices getting involved in all the trainee socials and networking events. “Obviously, being an apprentice looks a lot different from being a uni student, but I’ve never felt that fear of missing out here, because everyone is so lovely, and the culture is so supportive,” our spy reveals.
Apprentices have multiple supervisors/support contacts, including two partner supervisors in different teams, two supervisors in-team, a trainee buddy, and an early careers mentor. “This has made me feel so comfortable in adjusting to such a new role,” an apprentice tells us. “This is because I never feel as though I cannot talk about anything and if I have a concern or a question then I know who I can speak to.”
“Secondly, I think that the work at the firm is a huge draw,” she continues. “The work that Bird & Bird do is super interesting and often in the news, involving clients that are household names. It results in some very pinch-me moments that definitely help with my development as a solicitor apprentice!” On her advice to prospective applicants, she encourages them to “have confidence and believe in yourself! It can be a very daunting process to apply to apprenticeships given how competitive they can be – but don’t let this get in your head. Instead, focus on what makes you stand out as a candidate. Reflect on what your strengths are and the experiences you have (both legal and non-legal) that are transferable to a career in law.”
This is Bird & Bird’s Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Bird & Bird’s full Legal Cheek profile here.