Darren Smith, Legal Apprentice in our Dispute Resolution team, shares his experience of the legal apprenticeship scheme and his advice for college and school leavers.
What attracted you to a legal apprenticeship?
One of the main things that attracted me to a legal apprenticeship was the fantastic opportunity for employment. Workplace experience is becoming more and more important when applying for jobs and seeking promotions, so an apprenticeship is perhaps the most effective way for someone to gain valuable experience and get their foot in the door of an organisation or industry.
The reason I decided to apply for an apprenticeship in the legal sector specifically, is because it provides a varied and challenging environment where no one day is the same. My experience as a legal apprentice has helped me to push myself to perform at my best and has provided me with extremely encouraging results throughout the process.
The opportunity to gain educational qualifications whilst working was another notable attraction of a legal apprenticeship from my point of view. The balance of working and studying has allowed me to reinforce my understanding of both the theory and practice of legal work and has definitely helped to justify my choice to apply for a legal apprenticeship.
How do you spend a typical day?
As I said earlier, no one day is the same and so there isn’t really a “typical day”. That’s what makes this apprenticeship so interesting and enjoyable. I most commonly spend my days working in the office but I am also often required to travel to court for hearings, meet with clients at external venues and attend business development events. My day-to-day tasks, although varied, include writing letters and emails, making telephone calls, attending meetings with colleagues and clients, and conducting legal research. Also, throughout the day I am regularly corresponding with colleagues, clients, other firms of solicitors, the court and third parties.
How would you like your career to develop in the future?
I would like to continue working in the legal sector and, if possible, further my career development through the apprenticeship route. I am now nearing the end of my current apprenticeship, which is a CILEx Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services. Once I complete the apprenticeship and obtain this qualification I hope to enrol on the CILEx Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship, on finishing this I will become a fully-qualified solicitor. Throughout this period and the years that follow, I aim to enhance my legal and professional skills and enjoy a successful and rewarding career.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering an apprenticeship?
Although apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular, they are still not the route chosen by the majority of college and school leavers. This was certainly an issue which I considered during my time as a sixth-form student when I saw most of my friends applying for university. I must be honest and say that I considered applying for an apprenticeship to be a risk, but looking back now I am confident in saying that it was a risk well worth taking. Therefore, one of my best pieces of advice would be to not be afraid of being in the minority, pursue what you think is right for your career and quite often this will help you to stand out from the crowd.
The traditional university route is not for everyone and this shouldn’t mean that those of us who don’t select it have no prospects of success. My apprenticeship has given me the great benefit of work and life experience, which I know would not have been possible if I had not chosen this career path. I am a vastly improved professional and person as a result. It is a process that I would recommend to anyone.
For more information on the apprenticeship schemes available at SAS Daniels, please visit our Legal Apprenticeships page.