From Books to Briefs: My Spirited Journey as a Solicitor Apprentice at Browne Jacobson!
Publish Date: 2023-10-03
Hi there, my name is Laura and I am a Trainee Solicitor (Apprenticeship Route) here at Browne Jacobson in the Public Law Team. I did Law, History and Business BTEC at A Level, and during my spare time I enjoy socialising with my friends and colleagues. I hope that my blog helps you visualise what it is like working for Browne Jacobson, and gives you some key advice on how to become an apprentice here. Hope you enjoy!
How did you find out about Browne Jacobson LLP?
I was in my final year at Bilborough College, Nottingham. They had arranged for students to attend a Young Professionals event at Pride Park stadium, Derby. The focus of the event was apprenticeships, and at the time, I had no idea that an apprenticeship in law was possible. However, Browne Jacobson were there and I was able to learn more about them as a firm and also the apprenticeship route.
In year 13, was an apprenticeship always what you wanted to do? Or were you thinking about university?
For me, I hadn’t ruled out University but in my final year of college, I knew that I wouldn’t be going to University straight away. I had studied History, Law and Business BTEC. I enjoyed all my subjects, but felt if I were to go to University I would have most likely gone to study History. That said, I was conscious that I did not know what that would mean for my future and likely job roles. An apprenticeship was always something I thought may be appealing, however, I had assumed (naively) that these were mainly in jobs such as engineering, accountancy and so on.
It wasn’t until the YP event that I knew an apprenticeship in law was possible, and as soon as I knew it was, I was sure it was what I wanted to do.
How did you find the application process? Were there any assessment centres you had to go to?
At the beginning of the application process, candidates apply via an easily accessible online application form for the vacancy, with sections to explain their reasons for applying in detail. A select number of candidates move on to the telephone interview stage. This is approximately a 15 minute phone call with one of our recruiters, which allows the firm to get a better insight of the candidate's suitability for the solicitor apprenticeship.
The final stage of the selection process is an assessment centre. This currently takes place in 2 parts, first part is done remotely and requires candidates to undertake two written exercises based on hypothetical yet relevant scenarios, under timed conditions. The second part is in-person where candidates spend a fully sponsored day at one of the offices, following an agenda that is outlined prior to the day. Each candidate is allocated time with an assessor, with whom they have a one-on-one interview. Then a Solicitor Apprentice from the previous cohort voluntarily gives the group a tour of the office followed by a Q/A from a student's perspective.
The assessment day also involves a team exercise where you are required to problem solve, which is a highly important skill to possess as a solicitor. The candidates are split into small groups with an allocated task and a time limit to make a decision as a collective rather than as an individual. Concurrently, they are observed and assessed by the assessors.
Importantly, candidates receive a session delivered by the University of Law (the study provider for the apprenticeship), to provide greater clarity on the educational aspect of the apprenticeship.
Did you start your apprenticeship immediately after year 13? Or did you take a gap year etc.
I joined Browne Jacobson immediately after year 13, starting in the first week of September 2018.
How have you found the programme so far? Have you enjoyed it?
I initially joined as a junior legal assistant working in the technical claims team. I was instantly involved in running my own cases through to court hearings specifically dealing with road traffic accident claims. Within the team, I was able to progress many skills required as a lawyer but also my knowledge of the Civil Litigation process. After around 2.5 years, I moved to the Public Law team, which can be best described as dealing with a little bit of everything!
The beauty of the apprenticeship is that you learn whilst you work and therefore, being able to move around and practice different areas of law at the same time is an added benefit. Alongside the work within the fabulous teams I have been involved with, I have been able to take part in many events for students, including the Young Professionals days, which is a full circle for me.
I thoroughly enjoy my job, the people I work with and my study. I am so grateful for the experience I have gained at Browne Jacobson and looking back, I cannot believe where the last 5 years have gone, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What has been the best parts about the apprenticeship?
Something I genuinely enjoy is being able to advocate for the apprenticeship route. Whether I am speaking to students, employees or clients, explaining my route to qualification – it is so rewarding to see how people are genuinely interested in the newer routes breaking down the barriers of the traditional route as this just doesn’t work for everyone.
Of course one great aspect of the role is that I get to have plenty of practice working day to day, which means when I am coming to the end of my studies heading towards qualification I will have a lot of experience ready to be a ‘Day 1 Solicitor’.
Do you feel like you are "missing out on the university experience"?
It can be easy to think that by not following the ‘traditional’ route I have missed out on the university experience. But when you sit back and think what have I actually missed, its Freshers and meeting other students. Otherwise, everything else is provided for but in a slightly different environment. I am still studying my degree, I continue to meet new people on a day to day basis, and there are plenty of socials too. So really, I haven’t missed out on much.
The only notable point is that many of my friends from college chose the more traditional route, and going into a workplace at 18 you do have to be mature or mature more quickly than you may at University. It is no bad thing, but going straight into an office/working environment may not be for everyone at such a young age.
Have you made any new friends at Browne Jacobson LLP?
I have made friends for life at Browne Jacobson and I am so lucky to have been able to meet so many great people from many different backgrounds. I always enjoy going into the office, speaking to my team members because as much as it is work. They are genuinely all a super lovely bunch and a real pleasure to spend the days with.
What does a day in the life of a Browne Jacobson LLP apprentice look like?
My days can vary significantly depending on the work I am completing. In the public law team, no day is the same – but I really enjoy that!
I have recently posted another article on the ‘day in the life’ and it can be accessed here: A day in the life of our Solicitor Apprentice | Careers in law | Browne Jacobson
Is the apprenticeship what you thought it would be?
I would mostly say it is what I thought it would be however, it is in reality harder than I had originally anticipated. It is no small task to work 4 days a week and also spend 1 day a week (and some weekends) dedicated to studying a degree. As the years have gone on, the study has become more complex as I work through the degree and I am also able to work on more challenging matters within Browne Jacobson.
It does test your resilience, time management skills and so on, however, I really do love the apprenticeship. It is so great to be able to access the apprenticeship as an alternative route to qualification, I am definitely a more hands on person and the apprenticeship definitely works for me for this reason.
Would you recommend this programme to current students?
Yes, yes and yes!!
I cannot recommend the route enough, it is such a rewarding way to qualify but I will say they are definitely becoming more popular than when I first started!
What are the three most important skills needed to be an apprentice?
I have already drawn on some of these but I would say:
- Time management – there are lots of deadlines and this is essential
- Open mindedness – you will be thrown into the deep end, you will try different areas of law and therefore, you need to remain open minded about what is around the corner to give it your best shot.
- Resilience – it wouldn’t be fair to say that the apprenticeship route is really easy. It is hard work and being resilient really helps you tackle this head on.
Thank you for reading my blog and I hope that you are now fully equiped to take on the challenging application process!
If you have any questions that you would like to ask me, or if you would just like to connect with me on LinkedIn, I have provided the link to my LinkedIn profile below, so feel free to connect!
My LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-morland-9a3467175/
We hope to see you apply for some of our roles, so here at Browne Jacobson, we all wish you the best of luck throughout the process! Good luck!