This is the Fieldfisher profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Fieldfisher profile.
City player Fieldfisher is headquartered at smart looking offices on the banks of the Thames in London. Whilst enjoying the view over the river, its lawyers tackle a broad spectrum of legal work. This includes technology, financial services, and energy and natural resources, as well as more niche work in personal injury, clinical negligence, private client, and media and TV. So, there’s plenty on offer for aspiring apprentices!
Boasting high-profile clientele including LVMH Louis Vuitton, Goldman Sachs and Google, lucky recruits will never be far from the action. Based in either Fieldfisher’s London, Manchester or Birmingham offices, one apprentice tells us they often find themselves working on “important cases”.
“In terms of why I chose the apprenticeship route, I think it’s more apt to ask, ‘why wouldn’t I want to choose it’!” one Fieldfisher apprentice, Amba, told us. “There are so many benefits of doing the apprenticeship route, but the biggest for me must be the practical experience – the experience you get working in a law firm doesn’t really compare to going to uni in terms of practical application.” And, she adds, “to make an obvious point, you earn a salary at the same time whilst incurring no student debt.”
Having applied to five firms, Fieldfisher was the standout firm for this recruit. “Not only was I keen to work in London at an international firm, but it was important to me that I could be myself around the people that I work with,” Amba told us. “At Fieldfisher’s assessment centre, there was a friendly atmosphere and I felt so comfortable — I already felt like I could be myself.” And, she adds, “having been here as an apprentice for a year, I know now that there’s no hierarchy within the firm. I can go up to any partner and have a chat with them about their weekend if I want to!”
During the apprenticeship, rookies will spend their first four years building their skillset and experience within the same team, before moving on to the training contract rotation. “So, applicants should do their research into the apprentice position that they’re applying for, as firms can take very different approaches,” Amba advises. The final two years as an apprentice involve four different seat rotations every six months, so seasoned apprentices have plenty of opportunity to explore the firm’s many practice areas.
Amba, who is currently in her second year in the medical negligence team, tells us: “You very much hit the ground running. Within the first month, I was drafting a witness statement with my supervisor, and now, in my second year, I’m taking a witness statement for a medical negligence claim myself.” Day-to-day tasks for her include attending client interviews, drafting orders and communicating with the firm’s many clients. Despite working towards the paralegal apprenticeship in the first two years, “essentially, there is no difference between what I’m doing as a second-year apprentice and the responsibilities of a trainee,” she explains. Not bad for someone less than two years out of school!
Even though she felt “a little out of [her] comfort zone to begin with,” she says that “my team are so supportive — I was always talked through initial tasks, and I felt I always had someone to go to if I had questions”. Furthermore, we’re told the hours do increase year-on-year but are still very much on the reasonable side. “Although the hours have increased slightly since my first year, I’d say on average I finish around six,” she reports. “I’ve never worked later than seven in the evening.”
On the educational side, newbies spend the first two year working towards the paralegal apprenticeship qualification with The University of Law (ULaw), before moving onto the LLB. Between years four and five, seasoned apprentices will begin the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). As many apprentices will agree, “there’s a lot of work to it” and “you need to make sure you manage your time.” On whether the study-day is manageable, our insider tells us, “there are times where it isn’t enough to get everything done, and it has spilled over into my weekend.” So, “being time efficient is really important.” But there is a high praise for the structure of ULaw’s programme, as well as the support from its staff. “At ULaw, we focus on one module at a time, which makes the content a lot more manageable. I have always felt able to contact my tutor if I don’t understand something. Even though we are online, we don’t feel forgotten about.”
And the social scene for Fieldfisher’s apprentices leaves no room for uni FOMO. “The apprentices in the London office have lunch and go for drinks together all the time,” Fieldfisher’s apprentice spy reveals. Outside of the twice-yearly trainee and apprentice parties, “where we can all have fun outside the gaze of the associates and partners,” rookies can look forward to “thirsty Thursdays” each week on the top-floor balcony of the firm’s London office overlooking the Thames. And if that wasn’t enough, last year’s firm Christmas party was held at the Museum of London. In fact, we are told, ““there’s so many opportunities to go out and do things at the firm, that sometimes it can be hard to say no!”
Other exciting opportunities are never far out of reach. “I recently went to a trial with my supervisor, and I got to speak with the barristers on the case,” Amba says. “So, as well as being such an interesting experience to have as an apprentice, I was able to broaden my professional network at the same time.” For adventurous hopefuls, the firm also offers secondment opportunities in the final two years of the programme. International secondees could find themselves in the firm’s Silicon Valley, Berlin or Vienna office, whilst other apprentices may choose a national secondment at one of the firm’s high-profile clients.
Overall, Amba sums up the mood on the Fieldfisher apprenticeship like this: “The solicitor apprenticeship is more than just a pathway to qualification; my journey has been a whirlwind of experiences, learning and growth where I have had the opportunity to learn from the firm’s lawyers and acquire skills that extend beyond the limitations of traditional university education.” When applying, they advise would-be apprentices to “be authentic, committed and passionate, and you can’t go wrong.”
This is Fieldfisher’s Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Fieldfisher’s full Legal Cheek profile here.