What is your education and career background?
I studied Law, Business Studies and English at A level. I thoroughly enjoyed the study of law throughout my two year course and I did consider moving on to more advanced study at a University.
I hadn’t heard a lot about apprenticeships during my time studying my A-Levels however when I came across legal apprenticeships I knew this would be the right route for me. I know a lot of people who took the more traditional route of going to University to study law full time, but I feel like that I am gaining so much more knowledge and experience on the apprenticeship route with DWF. I think it's really great that we get to study while gaining practical experience.
I joined DWF as a Paralegal Apprentice in September 2019. The apprenticeship is two years long, I work in the office/remotely on Thursday and Friday and I have a study day at home on Monday. I study with BPP University and have sat exams for modules including Contract Law, Commercial Law, Tort Law, ELS whilst also completing a portfolio.
What is your biggest professional achievement so far?
Some of my biggest achievements have been gaining experience on high profile cases. During my first few months at DWF I assisted on a case that I often saw on the news, this was great experience for me as It helped me to understand how the business works and the different types of work we carry out. My team take instructions from various teams from across the business and I have carried out varied work for the Employment team, Finance Litigation, Real Estate, Asset Management, Commercial, Insurance and more! I personally believe the past 18 months have been full of achievements. I am really proud of the knowledge and skills I have gained over the course of my apprenticeship.
How do you think an apprenticeship has helped you to build the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career at DWF?
I think the educational side of the apprenticeship with BPP is great, the allocated study day gives me time to focus away from work and more on my studies. I think the main benefit of the apprenticeship is that I do not only gain a legal education but I have the practical experience of working closely with qualified legal professionals. I find that the work I complete day-to-day goes hand in hand with my studies at BPP, this is something you perhaps wouldn’t get taking the traditional University route. For example, last term I studied Commercial law, and the study of this really benefited my drafting skills in my role at DWF.
I have also really enjoyed taking part in the Manchester Cares event, it was great for meeting new people and understanding the work that DWF does with different charities.
Have you faced any challenges with your work or apprenticeship during the pandemic? If so, how have you adapted and how has the business supported you?
During the pandemic I have both worked in the office and remotely. When I first started to work from home I did find it difficult and quite intimidating at times. I had not completed my first year of the apprenticeship and I felt like I had been thrown into the deep end. However, my team were really great, I have made a lot of friends at DWF so I always had someone to call if I needed help! In a way I do think remote working actually benefitted me, as I feel you become more independent and rely less on more experienced colleagues.
When working remotely we have various daily team calls to make sure everyone is good and up to speed on everything. We have also had a couple of socials over teams which is good.
Upon completing your apprenticeship, what are your next steps?
I have really enjoyed my time so far at DWF. My goal is to move on to the Solicitor Apprenticeship and continue to learn and develop my knowledge, skills and career. I enjoy the work because it is always so varied and has given me an insight into many different areas of law and I am keen to explore these further! I would like to learn more and develop skills in employment law and gain more depth in commercial.
When I first started my apprenticeship at DWF I would never have thought I would have gained as much confidence as I have. I think a lot of people assume that apprentices do a lot of admin work but this is not always the case; there is admin involved in all roles but on a daily basis I complete the same tasks as the qualified paralegals on my team. I never feel as though I am less capable because I am an apprentice.
I have gained so much experience in various work streams, I work with a team that helps me to develop my skills and understanding and there is a lot of opportunities.
I am very happy with my choice of a legal apprenticeship over the traditional university route, I have been able to kick start my career while learning at the same time. I think the experience I have gained and am continuing to gain is invaluable.