This is the Gowling WLG profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Gowling WLG profile.
With offices spread worldwide, including a substantial eight in Canada post a 2016 mega-merger, Gowling WLG became one of the first major legal players to embrace solicitor apprenticeships way back in 2015. The firm is seeking to recruit individuals for its offices in Birmingham and London, offering the opportunity to specialise in one of the firm’s core practice areas. In the UK, these encompass real estate, projects, corporate, employment and pensions, banking, litigation and IP.
One recent newly qualified solicitor, recounting her reasons for choosing the apprenticeship path, says: “For me, it was the logical and most sensible choice among all available options. The prospect of obtaining a degree while working in a large law firm, gaining invaluable experience, and not having to self-fund my degree without any guarantee of a training contract afterward sold it to me. I honestly can’t see any downsides.” She continues, “breaking down the timeline, pursuing an undergraduate degree, SQE, and then a training contract would take roughly the same amount of time as the apprenticeship route, but without the uncertainty at each stage.”
“Regarding Gowling, location played a significant role for me,” expresses a recruit based in Birmingham. “Staying local offered a sense of stability, especially while stepping into something relatively unknown at the time.” Additionally, she notes, “being at a firm with a nationally and internationally recognised name is advantageous; our firm’s reputation is built on high-calibre work and prestigious clients.” She adds, “the atmosphere here is very friendly. Everyone is welcoming, and the culture is inclusive and relaxed. Whilst remaining local was important to this apprentice, apprentices based across Birmingham and London are afforded equal opportunities in terms of work quality and development opportunities.
Furthermore, with the firm’s extensive experience in apprenticeships (currently over 30 apprentices on programme) and the first cohort now qualified, “Gowling is highly experienced in supporting individuals on this route to qualification” according to the Early Talent Manager.
Upon joining the programme, recruits will undertake a two-year paralegal apprenticeship while remaining in the same practice seat. In the third and fourth years, apprentices will rotate through two different practice areas before returning to their initial base for the final three years. Alongside rotations, access to wider opportunities via sector work, networks, and pro bono, allow them to develop wider commercial awareness and acumen, whilst nurturing legal skills and knowledge within a specific practice area.
Commenting on the studying aspect, “It takes some getting used to. Transitioning from school or college to working almost full-time and studying one day a week is quite different. It’s certainly manageable, but it’ll take time to adjust to the new routine.” Another recruit admits, “there are days when you end up working on weekends, particularly nearing exams.” Despite the firm offering additional exam leave and recognizing the demands of studying alongside work, those aiming to excel must invest extra hours. However, maintaining a healthy balance is crucial, both internally and personally.
“We’re a social firm,” confirms an insider, stressing that they don’t feel they’ve missed out on the perks of traditional university life. “We have various social groups, including a choir, netball, and other sports teams, as well as regular team socials within each group. Engaging in these activities is encouraged by the firm,” we’re told. Additionally, there are frequent team, group, and practice away days, along with regular gatherings for all trainees and apprentices, not to mention the annual ball.
Moreover, with the increasing number of apprentices in the legal industry and elsewhere, “there have been more networking opportunities for apprentices, both legal and non-legal.”
Having been at the firm for nearly seven years, a recently qualified solicitor shares that, “the firm’s extensive experience brings an understanding of looking after 18–25-year-olds, which is crucial. The dedication of the early talent team and dedicated apprenticeships staff stands out. Everyone genuinely wants to assist you on your journey through the programme to qualification. It’s a very personal experience tailored to support you as an individual.”
In addition, they highlight the benefits of a salary ladder with incremental progression, excellent office facilities, national connections as well as the firm’s international reach.
This is Gowling WLG’s Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Gowling WLG’s full Legal Cheek profile here.