This is the Eversheds Sutherland profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Eversheds Sutherland profile.
With 11 offices across the UK and an impressive 74 globally, Eversheds Sutherland is a major player in within the world of commercial law. Headquartered in London, Eversheds Sutherland also boasts a solid American presence following its 2017 transatlantic megamerger with US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. Offering a wide array of practice areas ranging from corporate M&A to competition, commercial litigation, and energy & natural resources, Eversheds Sutherland is a significant draw for ambitious aspiring solicitors. In 2024, it is offering 10 solicitor apprenticeships, and fortunate recruits will have the opportunity to work across five of the firm’s UK offices: Ipswich, Cambridge, London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.
Legal Cheek sat down with one of the firm’s current apprentices to understand their motivation for pursuing this relatively new path to qualification. This ES insider, who had a relatable pandemic university experience, opted to leave their degree in the first year to explore alternative routes into law. “The apprenticeship path truly was the best option for me,” they tell us, “not only because of the advantages that come with working at an international, commercial firm, but also because it allows you to earn a degree, qualify as a solicitor, and, most importantly,” they emphasised, “gain a wealth of practical experience in the legal industry.”
What made the firm particularly stand out among the plethora of commercial firms? “Primarily, I aimed to be in London and pursue a solicitor apprenticeship rather than taking the more common paralegal apprenticeship route,” our source tells us. “After reaching out to several of the firm’s apprentices on LinkedIn, I received a multitude of positive feedback, prompting me to explore the apprenticeship route with ES.” Not only were these insights from the firm’s recruits valuable for this apprentice, but the application process itself significantly influenced their decision. “The firm provided incredible support throughout the application process. I gained a wealth of knowledge through my interactions with the firm, and there was an overall positive vibe during the recruitment phase.”
So, what does the solicitor apprenticeship programme entail? Structurally, successful recruits will spend their first four years acclimatising to the firm and honing expertise in their main practice area. Seat rotations come into play during years five and six of the programme, allowing apprentices to join their graduate counterparts on the training contract. This involves four six-monthly seat rotations, enabling recruits to familiarise themselves with the firm’s key practice areas and sector strengths.
Delving into the work itself, our insider assures us that the firm acknowledges that apprentices will enter with limited experience. “As an apprentice, they understand that you’ve likely never been in an office environment and may have little to no legal technical skills,” explained an apprentice. “Hence, teams at the firm tend to initially involve you in more routine and administrative tasks until you gain expertise.” Although the workload of a new apprentices may initially resemble paralegal duties, “the responsibilities increase notably in years three and four,” we were informed. During these years, seasoned apprentices can expect involvement in drafting, legal research, and company filings, as well as gaining valuable insights into the firm’s “complex transactional work”.
Regarding the educational aspect of the programme, our insider shared insights into studying for a law degree one day a week. They assure us that the study load is “manageable, particularly in the first four years,” highlighting the benefits of regular mock exams throughout the year. “They assist in assessing your academic level and adequately prepare you for the exams.” Apprentices can expect additional study leave during exam season and can benefit from the firm’s flexibility if they require additional study time or support.
Undoubtedly, the intensity of part-time study escalates in the final two years, with seasoned apprentices undertaking the Solicitor’s Qualifying Exams (SQE) during their seat rotations. However, as their apprenticeship nears its conclusion, recruits may find motivation in seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our insider advises to “establish boundaries within your team” during this period, as “they will acknowledge that studying is as crucial as working towards qualification”.
However, work isn’t solely about responsibilities; there’s room for leisure too. Regarding the social scene as an apprentice at ES, we were informed that “trainees and apprentices interact well and are invited to firm-wide as well as trainee-focused social events”. This insider also mentioned ample time for pursuing hobbies outside of work, attributing this to a great work/life balance at the firm. Ambitious would-be apprentices will also be pleased to learn that they can be seconded to client firms before their training contract year, providing them with an advantage over their graduate counterparts. Of course, apprentices are integrated into the trainee cohort in their final years, granting them equal access to the firm’s secondment opportunities at that stage.
Overall, what are the most compelling factors drawing recruits to the ES? Our insider tells us, “Eversheds has a strong track record in the apprenticeship field, making their solicitor apprenticeship programme well-established and reliable – a significant attraction for applicants.” For recruits, this means benefiting from the firm’s experience and receiving “guidance and support from the older cohorts of apprentices”. Furthermore, there appears to be a strong “collegiate culture at the firm” that aids apprentices throughout their journey. Additionally, they revealed, “the opportunity to gain insights into legal tech, an area that Eversheds prides itself on, is undoubtedly a major draw.”
When asked for advice on successfully navigating the application process, this apprentice wisely suggests utilising LinkedIn to connect with apprentices at the firm and the graduate recruitment team. Regarding the application itself, they stress the importance of ensuring that “your writing is of an excellent standard, with each answer specifically tailored to the question.”
This is the Eversheds Sutherland Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Eversheds Sutherland’s full Legal Cheek profile here.