An apprenticeship which offers more than you’d expect
“You could go to one of the best universities and still not get a training contract at a firm as big as this, so to be here at 19 is just incredible.”
Abbi started her apprenticeship at Gowling WLG last September. A year on, we caught up with her to see what inspired her to join the scheme and whether it’s met her expectations so far...
If university’s not for you, an apprenticeship is an excellent option
University never really appealed to me – I wasn’t attracted to the student lifestyle and I wanted to avoid the debt. Getting a head start in the world of work, earning a salary and using the three years I would have spent at university to get my foot in the door at a prestigious law firm seemed like a much better idea to me.
The standard of apprenticeships are getting higher and higher. I knew that at Gowling WLG I wouldn’t just end up in an admin role, I’d be getting hands-on with clients and going to networking events, all whilst earning good money. It would’ve been much easier to approach small, high street firms but I wanted to push myself and go for the high standard that Gowling WLG provides. You could go to one of the best universities and still not get a training contract at a firm as big as this, so to be here at 19 is just incredible.
Plenty of client contact and excellent support
I started my apprenticeship at Gowling WLG last September, so I’m half way through my scheme. Gowling WLG have given me the opportunity to get involved in firm life, work alongside some of the UK’s biggest companies and learn from some of the best lawyers in their field. As well as having files that I manage independently, I also have the opportunity to assist my supervisor on bigger, more complicated matters which is a fantastic learning curve. As most of the clients we deal with are companies rather than individuals, I've also learnt so much about the commercial aspects of my daily work; building relationships with clients and advising them on the best commercial decisions. It's not just law – it's a lot of business too.
Gowling WLG has given me so much support and I am so happy with my decision – the opportunity to work for and train at such a well-respected and prestigious firm is amazing. The firm is really interested in my progress which highlights the quality of the scheme and makes me feel really valued. My supervisor and I have a really great relationship; we have monthly meetings to check how things are going and I also have regular catch-ups with HR and CILEx to discuss my progress.
Work hard and play hard, too
The independence that you gain from doing something like this is fantastic. I've met so many new people and made a lot of new friends. Don't let anyone tell you that if you jump into the world of work you'll never go out or socialise again – these lawyers work hard but they know how to play hard too. I don't think I gave much thought as to what else would come with a job at a law firm, in terms of life outside of the office, but I absolutely love every aspect of it. It's not a case of finishing at 5.30pm and going home – there's a real community here and there is always something happening, whether that be going for Friday night drinks or playing a netball match as part of the firm's team.
Did I make the right decision? Absolutely.
My first year here has exceeded every expectation I had. I have so much responsibility at the firm and a huge amount of client contact which I never expected. The day-to-day work is so interesting and you have so much more motivation to study when you can see it coming alive around you. Once I finish my apprenticeship I hope to complete the remaining modules for the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice before I go on to study the CILEx Level 6 Diploma in Law and Practice. After I have completed these and have one further year of qualifying employment under my belt, I will be qualified as a Fellow of CILEx and be recognised as a Chartered Legal Executive.