This is the Kennedys profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Kennedys profile.
With 14 sizable offices in the UK and an additional 31 spread across the world, Kennedys is a rapidly expanding global player. While the outfit specialises in insurance and shipping, with many of its outposts in key coastal cities, the firm offers a full-service range. Available for aspiring apprentices are opportunities in the healthcare and professional liability departments at the firm’s Birmingham and Cambridge offices.
“I always knew that I wanted to pursue law,” one rookie at the firm tells us when discussing why she chose the apprenticeship route, “but I was also very aware that university just wasn’t for me, and that I wasn’t keen on continuing full-time study. I’ve found that a more hands-on approach to learning works far better for me,” she continues. Additionally, it’s a “good bonus” to be paid while working and not accumulating any student debt on the path to qualification.
Having discovered the apprenticeship route during the pandemic, one recruit entered the Birmingham legal world fresh from school. “I chose the location because at the time I didn’t want to move away from home,” they confide. “Regarding Kennedys, the big attraction for me came during the interview and assessment days when I got a very different vibe compared to other firms. It felt like they were far more interested in me as a person, rather than purely focusing on my credentials to make decisions.”
Another positive aspect, they continue, is that “the firm was trying to impress me just as much as I was trying to impress them, so it felt like a genuine two-way street and a great place to grow, develop, and learn”. Additionally, the global reach of the firm was an added attraction, we’re told, as was the firm’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Unlike many other solicitor apprenticeships, Kennedys directly recruit apprentices directly into two of its key practice areas: healthcare and professional liability. This means that apprentices do not rotate beyond these groups, instead becoming specialists in their field. The program consists of two years as a paralegal apprenticeship, followed by an additional five years as a solicitor apprentice.
During these initial two years, our insider tells us that a good deal of time is spent finding your feet, getting to know those within your teams, and grasping the technical aspects of the firm’s systems and core legal skills. Tasks during this time tend to be on the lower end of responsibility, offering a gentler introduction to the firm, we’re told. Afterward, rookies continue to refine their skills and take on more responsibility until they handle their own caseloads, with supervision, in the latter years of their training.
To build up to this level, recruits have access to a wide range of resources, one newcomer says. “We have a junior lawyers programme, which is an online scheme that all apprentices, trainees, and assistants are part of, teaching different drafting, research, and administrative tasks. This allows us,” our informant continues, “to learn as we go along and receive direct assistance with each task assigned to us. This gives me the confidence and knowledge to complete tasks before actually doing them.”
“To complement this, we have an allocation system for new starters, where tasks are placed into the system, akin to a cab rank, with different task complexities being assigned different grades, allowing you to choose work at the appropriate level and streamlining tasks,” they tell us. However, this work is only available to rookies when they’re not on one of the firm’s many client secondments.
In addition to legal work and on-the-job training, rookies also complete paralegal qualifications, an LLB, and the SQE over their seven-year tenure. “BPP is an excellent training provider,” one recruit says. “We have a firm advisor we can directly approach with any issues, although all the resources are great and available online, making life far easier than having to attend an in-person course.”
Regarding managing this work-study balance, we hear that “it can be difficult to get used to” initially, as the shift from school to solicitor life is a “big change to begin with”. However, one high-flying rookie reassures us that everything can be resolved with good organisation. “It all boils down to prioritising your workdays and study days to make the most efficient use of your time and set clear boundaries with your team and yourself,” they advise. Although the route is certainly not easier than the traditional path, a new apprentice warns, the firm always has your back. “Kennedys is very flexible,” according to one insider, and ensures apprentices always have the time available to fit their studies in and avoid conflicts with work commitments. “They genuinely appreciate the demands of working while studying and are always supportive and excellent at communicating with us,” the insider adds.
When Kennedys rookies aren’t in the office or hitting the books, it seems they’re enjoying a packed social calendar. “We have a robust apprenticeship community in Birmingham as an increasing number of firms take on new apprentices each year. This is in addition to the large junior network within the firm comprising paralegals, trainees, and apprentices. “It doesn’t feel “like you have no social life or a limited one,” our spy enthuses. “While it’s different from being at university full-time, another benefit is that you have the financial means to go out and enjoy your free time. Honestly, for me, it was a no-brainer in the end, although I can appreciate the balance between the two,” the add.
For those aiming to excel in apprenticeship applications, our interviewee offers a few words of advice. “Take your time to understand the application processes for each firm, as they can be very complicated, and you need to understand exactly what’s being asked of you and why. It’s also worth spending time properly preparing for interviews, and if possible, gaining some interview experience.” However, the most significant piece of advice is to “simply be yourself.” This, we’re told, is crucial in written applications as well as interviews or assessment days.
This is Kennedys’ Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Kennedys’ full Legal Cheek profile here.