Official Solicitor Apprenticeship Thread Watch

fcmcmurray
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Hi all

sophie_chu and I have seen a million and one odd threads about solicitor apprenticeships at specific firms or random questions being asked but never answered, so we thought we might as well start a central thread and get everyone thinking of applying for solicitor apprenticeships talking together rather than in splintered threads.

We're both first year apprentices at Withers LLP and students of the LLB in Legal Practice at BPP Holborn. Joining us are EGowlettSSaber, half of our second year intake, who are equally keen to start sharing their experiences.

Please do not hesitate to ask any questions you have about the application process, the pros and cons of apprenticeships and working life, etc.

Keep checking our twitter page for daily updates on our day to day experiences: https://twitter.com/withers_apprent

Thanks!
Last edited by fcmcmurray; 4 months ago
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quirky editor
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How does th apprentice root differ from the degree root to becoming qualified?
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fcmcmurray
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(Original post by quirky editor)
How does th apprentice root differ from the degree root to becoming qualified?
That's a question we get a lot but also one with quite a complex answer.

The truth is, the academic routes don't differ much. We all study a degree of some kind, but our route is an LLB in Legal Practice rather than straight law or a subject of our choice (and then a conversion), but we still have to take the SQE at the end of it all.

Something people seem to be very unsure of is the time scale this route takes, but when comparing the traditional route to our route both still take six years minimum to complete.

The traditional route is:
- 3 year degree
- 1 year LPC
- 2 year training contract
(A total of 6 years at the very least, with another year or two added for industry years, legal conversions, paralegal years, etc.)

Our route is:
- 4 year degree (it's distance learning so a little longer compared to a normal degree full time)
- 2 year training contract/'portfolio' work. We work towards meeting the SRA standards for apprentices and pass the same SQE that every trainee needs to pass.
(A total of 6 years from day one on your degree to qualifying as a solicitor)

Some things people tend to get confused are that:
- We are less qualified than normal trainees/solicitors.
- We don't get degrees.
- We are tied to our training firms as no one else will recognise our qualifications.

All three are pretty wrong as we are unofficially on the same level as trainees from day one (that is to say, we do largely similar work), we work for our degrees throughout our training and they're just as rigorous as any degree and finally, we'll be qualified solicitors the same as any other NQ.

As I said, the question you asked is pretty broad and there are loads of ways our paths to qualification will differ. Something I've not covered is the fact we obviously don't accrue debt because all our fees are paid for us, or that we don't have quite so much of the opportunity for 'student life' as regular uni/law school students have, one or both of which might drastically change the route to qualification you had imagined for yourself.
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quirky editor
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(Original post by fcmcmurray)
That's a question we get a lot but also one with quite a complex answer.

The truth is, the academic routes don't differ much. We all study a degree of some kind, but our route is an LLB in Legal Practice rather than straight law or a subject of our choice (and then a conversion), but we still have to take the SQE at the end of it all.

Something people seem to be very unsure of is the time scale this route takes, but when comparing the traditional route to our route both still take six years minimum to complete.

The traditional route is:
- 3 year degree
- 1 year LPC
- 2 year training contract
(A total of 6 years at the very least, with another year or two added for industry years, legal conversions, paralegal years, etc.)

Our route is:
- 4 year degree (it's distance learning so a little longer compared to a normal degree full time)
- 2 year training contract/'portfolio' work. We work towards meeting the SRA standards for apprentices and pass the same SQE that every trainee needs to pass.
(A total of 6 years from day one on your degree to qualifying as a solicitor)

Some things people tend to get confused are that:
- We are less qualified than normal trainees/solicitors.
- We don't get degrees.
- We are tied to our training firms as no one else will recognise our qualifications.

All three are pretty wrong as we are unofficially on the same level as trainees from day one (that is to say, we do largely similar work), we work for our degrees throughout our training and they're just as rigorous as any degree and finally, we'll be qualified solicitors the same as any other NQ.

As I said, the question you asked is pretty broad and there are loads of ways our paths to qualification will differ. Something I've not covered is the fact we obviously don't accrue debt because all our fees are paid for us, or that we don't have quite so much of the opportunity for 'student life' as regular uni/law school students have, one or both of which might drastically change the route to qualification you had imagined for yourself.
Who arranges/pays for the degree?
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s0phiec
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(Original post by quirky editor)
Who arranges/pays for the degree?
The firm does.
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quirky editor
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Is there a minimum A Level grade requirement? Where can I get for info about these schemes?
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fcmcmurray
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The university you're with, usually one of BPP, ULaw and City Law School depending on the firm, will 'arrange' the degree content and plan your lectures and exams. The firms tend to be quite hands off with the studying part of your course, its your responsibility to keep up with it.
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s0phiec
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(Original post by quirky editor)
Is there a minimum A Level grade requirement? Where can I get for info about these schemes?
You can find info on the careers page of the firm offering the apprenticeship. They will have their own requirements but I personally find it's usually ABB or equivalent.
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DarkChaoz95
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What do you feel is the cons of this route. Im currently doing the LPC but keen to hear about this route more. Since I heard of this but never gave it much thought or researched into it to be honest before uni.
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fcmcmurray
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(Original post by DarkChaoz95)
What do you feel is the cons of this route. Im currently doing the LPC but keen to hear about this route more. Since I heard of this but never gave it much thought or researched into it to be honest before uni.
Personally, the loss of a university 'experience' is probably my biggest con of the process. I guess you could call this the 'growing up' factor as well; you're suddenly accountable for your actions and you're producing work having skipped the 3 or 4 years other people have to be without responsibility.
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s0phiec
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(Original post by DarkChaoz95)
What do you feel is the cons of this route. Im currently doing the LPC but keen to hear about this route more. Since I heard of this but never gave it much thought or researched into it to be honest before uni.
Me deliberately passing up not having a typical uni experience in the sense of physically going (or not...) to lectures, joining societies and having access to loads of new people my age eg my friends from school who are at uni go clubbing in the evenings whilst I go home to do housework and sleep...
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s0phiec
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(Original post by DarkChaoz95)
What do you feel is the cons of this route. Im currently doing the LPC but keen to hear about this route more. Since I heard of this but never gave it much thought or researched into it to be honest before uni.
Another is that my first four degree years on the apprenticeship in the office are less structured than the grad trainees so I rely on my (brilliant) supervisor's advice and guidance on getting (substantive) work, building bridges with associates etc.
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Haider_A
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Can I still become a District/Circuit Judge, if I become a solicitor rather than a barrister?

If so, will I be able to do so through such apprenticeship programmes?

Thanks
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fcmcmurray
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(Original post by Haider_A)
Can I still become a District/Circuit Judge, if I become a solicitor rather than a barrister?

If so, will I be able to do so through such apprenticeship programmes?

Thanks
Yes! In fact, this is what I'm planning to do. Choose this route and perhaps you might sacrifice the advocacy experience that a barrister gets day to day, but plenty of solicitors still go to the lesser courts and are heard before a judge.

You'll get a LLB degree and 4 extra years of experience. The rules say you must have between 5 and 7 years NQ under your belt before you apply to professional legal roles in the judiciary, like DDJ/DJ and beyond. When you apply with 5 years NQ, you can also point out that your apprenticeship route gave you another 4 on top. Also, there's nothing to stop you going for higher rights once qualified and pursuing advocacy competitions and mediator/arbitrator experience - all of which nicely round off an application to the judicial appointments committee.
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Haider_A
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(Original post by fcmcmurray)
Yes! In fact, this is what I'm planning to do. Choose this route and perhaps you might sacrifice the advocacy experience that a barrister gets day to day, but plenty of solicitors still go to the lesser courts and are heard before a judge.

You'll get a LLB degree and 4 extra years of experience. The rules say you must have between 5 and 7 years NQ under your belt before you apply to professional legal roles in the judiciary, like DDJ/DJ and beyond. When you apply with 5 years NQ, you can also point out that your apprenticeship route gave you another 4 on top. Also, there's nothing to stop you going for higher rights once qualified and pursuing advocacy competitions and mediator/arbitrator experience - all of which nicely round off an application to the judicial appointments committee.
Thanks!

How do you recommend that I prepare for the assessment days and really stand out, if I get to that stage?
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sahraazizzz
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I was wondering if you guys applied to other firms aswell or only withers and how long it takes for firms to get back to you? Also what exercises did your assessment day consist of? Thanks
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fcmcmurray
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(Original post by Haider_A)
Thanks!

How do you recommend that I prepare for the assessment days and really stand out, if I get to that stage?
I think it's different for everyone. I think that interviewers like to see that you're not just telling them what you think they want to hear, just be honest with them. Also, they like to know that their 'gamble' of paying all your uni and training fees will pay off - having some experience of office work/examples of how dedicated and resilient you are will help you seem mature and well prepared to enter quite an alien environment.
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fcmcmurray
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(Original post by sahraazizzz)
I was wondering if you guys applied to other firms aswell or only withers and how long it takes for firms to get back to you? Also what exercises did your assessment day consist of? Thanks
I applied to 5 firms in total, I think. Dentons, Mayer Brown, Charles Russell Speechlys, Eversheds Sutherland and Withers. I think I can say that every firm apart from Withers were late in getting back to me after the initial application stage and it was clear people were starting to panic and emailing HR because we all got sent an email telling us to be patient.

Withers were pretty great with their timings but I reckon that's because I applied the same day they posted their advert. I got a call the next day and we arranged a time for a phone interview with grad recruitment. They invited me to the next stage during that phone interview and I had to complete some online verbal and non verbal reasoning tests before going to the group day.

The group day was your garden variety selection of one to one interviews (a member of HR, a partner and you), spelling and grammar tests and a group exercise. For the group we got given a scenario and had to work out what the firm would do to manage it, legally speaking.

About a week later grad recruitment called and said they wanted me. Eversheds interview day was much the same, although I had to do a virtual recorded interview in between the online tests and face to face day.
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sahraazizzz
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Did you get your others offers and what made you choose withers? Also how do you suggest I can improve on the verbal reasoning other than practice ? Thanks
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sahraazizzz
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Did you get your others offers and what made you choose withers? Also how do you suggest I can improve on the verbal reasoning other than practice ? Thanks
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