Cripps — solicitor apprenticeship

The Legal Cheek View

This is the Cripps profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Cripps profile.

Headquartered in the Kent town of Tunbridge Wells, Cripps is no newcomer to the apprenticeship scene. Seeing its first cohort of solicitor apprentices graduate next year, the firm is a veteran in the field, boasting a bounty of expertise when it comes to training young solicitor hopefuls. Recruits at the firm can expect a varied taste of legal work, with the firm speciating in private client, real estate, corporate, dispute resolution, and ESG & sustainability. Although smaller than many of its City headquartered counterparts, this outfit still boasts a headcount of over 500 spread across offices in Tunbridge Wells, where apprentices are based, London and Horsham in West Sussex.

“For me, uni never really appealed,” says one Cripps fifth year apprentice when asked why she decided against the ‘traditional’ route into law. Having discovered the firm’s apprenticeship while researching online, she says she “knew it would be a perfect opportunity” for her, given she was keen to start building her legal career in a more practical way. Another insider tells us how they were sold on the pathway having met another apprentice whole working a part-time supermarket job. “I already knew I wanted to go into law,” she tells Legal Cheek, “but I didn’t really fancy uni, so I applied to the firm. It was great to already have a contact at the firm before I joined!”

But why Cripps? “Locationally, I liked the fact that the apprenticeship is based in Tunbridge Wells, and not in London,” one apprentice explains. “There is very much a ‘City’ feel at Cripps, but you’re integrated into a cohort and into teams which are smaller, meaning that you have much more of an immediate and valued presence when you join.” The culture also seemed to be a big attraction for the recruits we spoke too. “When I walked through the doors here, I already felt at home,” one reveals. “It wasn’t intimidating walking into the assessment centre because everyone was so lovely. There is also a lot of different practice areas here, so it’s a great firm for a young career starter who hasn’t encountered legal practice yet.”

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When it comes to exposure to the firm’s practice areas, apprentices will have plenty of opportunities to explore their interests. Newcomers can expect a whopping eight seat rotations during the six-year programme. Starting on the firm’s paralegal apprenticeship programme for the first two years, newbies will undergo an initial three seat rotations of eight months in the real estate, corporate and private client teams. Experienced third years will then graduate onto the solicitor apprenticeship for the proceeding two years, rotating twice annually. In their final two “training contract” years, the pathway differs slightly from Cripps’ standard TC. Recruits will undertake the usual two six-monthly seats in their fifth year, before undertaking a one-year seat in their final year to ensure they have sufficient time to complete the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

Sitting in private client, one current apprentice describes her day-to-day like this: “I tend to do a lot of drafting of wills, as well as trusts and lasting powers of attorney,” she says. “My work is always very varied, so for example today I’ve had client meetings to take instructions, and I’ve also been getting involved in organising a firm volunteering day.” Another apprentice, currently sitting in the commercial real estate team, offers this overview of her typical day: “I do a lot of drafting of contracts and leases, and I also regularly undertake more client facing work, which is exciting. A lot of the time, we’re the main point of contact for clients, which is really great experience.” In terms of responsibility at Cripps she notes that although paralegal apprentices may “start out a little slower”, “it’s quite unique to get this level of exposure to clients as a third-year apprentice.” At Cripps, she says, “they build up the responsibility over time, as you learn and build relationships within your teams”.

And it’s clear that as the levels of responsibility increase, so does the support. “My supervisors have always been so supportive,” enthuses one third-year apprentice. “They are always happy to look through anything if you’re not too sure about the work, and our line managers are very hands on in terms of pastoral support too.” Another apprentice also flags how the open-plan office creates a space that’s very approachable: “even the partners are there if you need to talk!” she says.

But what is it like doing a law degree part -time alongside the role at the firm? “It’s tricky but doable,” we’re told. “I’ve noticed a massive difference in the level of content on the course, as the apprenticeship progresses. But on the other hand,” she continues, “it’s also really valuable when your studies synchronise with the practice area you’re sitting in because you can see what you’re learning being applied in real time.” On her approach to time management, this apprentice admits to studying on some evenings and weekends. “On the paralegal apprenticeship,” she says, “it’s quite manageable to fit everything into the one study day. But from year three onwards, it’s usual to take time outside of the study day because the workload is heavier.” At the end of the day, she advises, “you’ve got to know what works for you, and how to manage your time accordingly.”

On the social side, it’s not all work and no play for this “social bunch” of Cripps’ apprentices. They can look forward to “plenty of teams socials” including regular lunches and drinks, as well as firm-wide events throughout the year. “We join the trainee socials too,” says one recruit, “and the apprentice cohorts are very close, so we do loads together outside of work too”. One apprentice says they have never felt that they’ve missed out on the uni experience, “because you’re working with people who are the same age and are like minded, so friendship groups form quite naturally”.

In that vein, one of the biggest “pull factors” of the Cripps apprenticeship for one insider is “definitely the people; everyone is so lovely and so approachable.” And, on the training side, “the people I work with are so knowledgeable and are open to giving us a lot of responsibility which I think is going to make all the difference when it comes to qualification”. We’re told other big attractions include the variety of seats and the respect shown to apprentices. “The firm really value us,” explains one interviewee. “We’re very much viewed the same as trainees and this makes a big difference, especially at a firm like Cripps where the smaller cohort size means you can really make a difference.”

On their application tips for aspiring apprentices, one advises: “Research the firm, and tailor your application to where you’re applying.” But most importantly, “be honest. There’s no need to pretend to be someone you’re not. Being genuine will automatically ensure that your application stands out.”

This is the Cripps Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Cripps’ full Legal Cheek profile here.


First year salary £20,000
Second year salary £23,000
Third year salary £26,000
Fourth year salary £27,500
Fifth year salary £30,000
Sixth year salary £32,000

General Info

Solicitor apprenticeships each year 4
Locations where apprenticeships offered 2
Minimum GCSE requirement Five 4s
Minimum A-level requirement CCC

GCSE requirements include English and Maths.

Apprenticeships are offered in Tunbridge Wells and Kent.

The Firm In Its Own Words