Why did you choose an apprenticeship and why DWF?
After finishing college I was quite certain that I did not want to go to university and would prefer to venture into the world of work straight away. However I knew that to get the career I wanted I needed extra qualifications, which I could only get through university or an apprenticeship. With my apprenticeship I am in the process of getting the qualifications needed to excel in my career as well as getting great experience that I would not have been able to get by going to university.
When I applied for the apprenticeship at DWF I knew it would be a great place to jump-start my career in law. I understood that DWF is a very successful, global and growing business. As the business is extensively expanding I knew that there would be plenty of opportunity for growth throughout and after my apprenticeship. Also as it is such a successful business I knew I would get the opportunity to work with a great team and improve my knowledge tremendously.
Describe a typical day as a DWF Apprentice
I would say that no day is the same at work. As I am part of the criminal sector of MPU (Motor Prosecution Unit), I attend many court hearings with my colleagues and make detailed attendance notes of the process and outcome. I also draft letters and make contact with various people including police, insurers, drivers, experts, CPS and counsel. I undertake legal research to assist our cases as well as reviewing disclosure that we receive and write a file note for my supervisor to read as a summary.
I am in the office four days a week and have one day a week as my "study day" for BPP. On this day I am expected to do the same hours of work that I would usually do on a working day (7.5 hours). Sometimes I am required to go to BPP University in London for a "skills day" where a lecturer teaches us skills which are useful for the workplace and our studies/upcoming exams. I also interact on online lectures for the subjects I am taking and do the required preparation (including reading, listening to a recorded tutorial, multiple choice questions, etc.) for the next weeks online lecture.
What support is available from team members and study support?
I work with an incredible team at DWF and associate with all my colleagues, especially the Criminal team that I am part of,. They have all assured me that if I need assistance with anything that they are happy to help. My supervisor is a great support and reviews a lot of my work, providing guidance on what I have done well, what I am improving on and points to note for next time.
I have an apprenticeship manager at BPP who I can contact for anything to do with my studies at BPP. I have termly/quarterly three-way phone calls with my apprenticeship manager and supervisor where we discuss my progress and if there is anything I want to ask. I know that I can talk to both my supervisor and/or apprenticeship manager with any concerns or questions whenever I need to.
What skills you have gained?
My computer skills have improved, as well as my grammar and the way I interact with others. My legal knowledge is a lot better than what it was when I first started at DWF and I know that this will continue to greatly improve. The biggest difference I have noticed, however, is how much confidence I have gained since starting at DWF. My team have made me feel so comfortable and brought me out of my shell very quickly. I have noticed my confidence in the way I talk and act towards other professionals, and never would have thought that I would become as confident as I am this quickly.
What does the future hold for you after completing your apprenticeship?
I would love to continue my career within DWF and grow within the business. Depending on my progress and achievement throughout my Paralegal Apprenticeship, there is the opportunity to continue onto the Solicitor Apprenticeship and qualify as a solicitor- which I would gladly take! If a solicitor apprentice position is not available at that time, then I hope for the opportunity to take on a paralegal role. I am excited for what the future of my career holds, especially if it is at DWF.
What were your expectations of working as an apprentice for a legal business?
It is difficult to know what to expect before you start your role as an apprentice at a legal business. I was slightly nervous about working as part of a legal business as I was unsure about the atmosphere and whether working with solicitors would be intimidating. However I could not have been more wrong.
Not only has my supervisor taken me under her wing, but so has the rest of the team. They gladly invite me to client interviews, conferences, court hearings, inquests and other appointments which they believe will aid in my learning process. I have learnt so much from everyone within the firm and professionals outside of the firm. I feel like I have gained so much knowledge and confidence already, and know that this will only continue to grow.
I already feel as though I have a lot of responsibility in my role, assisting the solicitors I work with and making sure all the work I complete is to a high standard. It is rewarding knowing that you are helping your clients throughout the process and that you are doing as much as you can to assist the client to make this process easier for them.
It can be challenging to balance work and study, but nothing worth having is ever easy and it is definitely worth all the effort. I feel very lucky to have been given this experience. I would strongly recommend and encourage people who do not feel university is for them but want to have a legal career to look into an apprenticeship. The experience and opportunities available are endless.