We’re catching up with Legal Apprentice at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), and GetMyFirstJob Apprentice Ambassador, Jacob.

Read on to find out how he’s finding his start to a career in law, moving away from home for his apprenticeship, and his biggest challenges, highlights, and advice to date. Perfect reading for those thinking about a career in law for themselves.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

I looked at going to university but the idea of being completely study-based was something that, personally, put me off. After being in school for so long, I realised the best way for me to learn was to be hands-on, as well as in a classroom. I knew that being able to combine the two would be better for me, in trying to facilitate the knowledge that I was getting from classroom learning, and then actually being able to put it into practice.

What made you choose a career specifically within the legal sector?

I wasn't sure about which route I was going to go down when I was at school. I always loved studying business, so I looked at careers in this sector. I saw that working in the legal industry, and especially in the firms I was looking at, meant that you’d be able to work with businesses across so many industries and sectors. That was really appealing to me.


What drew you to apply to BCLP?

When I was looking at firms, I did my research and investigated the different opportunities. At the time of applying, apprenticeships were new in the legal sector. But I saw how much BCLP cared about their apprentices on the programme, and I knew I wanted to be at the forefront of bringing apprenticeships into the wider view of students. Also, being one of the two of the first apprentice to start in the Southampton office was really appealing.


How was it to be the first cohort in the Southampton offices?

It's been an interesting experience. It’s been great talking to the lawyers in the office who previously didn't know much about this career route. And for me and the other apprentices, being the first ones in the staff, it's meant that we've been able to inform them on what we do, what we can do, and what kind of things we're really interested to learn about. That's been helpful for them as well, to understand what we're doing.



A Solicitor apprenticeship is a 6-year long programme. How far along into your apprenticeship are you? And how is the programme structured?

I joined BCLP in September, so I'm a first-year apprentice. We do work on a rotational basis which is roughly structured at six months each. For the rotations, you’re paired up with other solicitor apprentices at the firm, so I’m paired with another apprentice in Southampton. But there are other teams in Manchester.

And which rotation are you currently in at the moment?

My first seat was in legal admin, which was a very good introductory seat. As I’ve never worked in a law firm before, it was great to get to grips with the systems, forms, and administrative side, and it’s left me with a good basis going forward. I will be moving teams this week to my next seat. So, we're traveling up to the Manchester office tomorrow to do all our training and meet the new team.


How often are you required to go to the Manchester office?

We travelled up to the Manchester office when we first joined the firm. There are more apprentices in that office, so they wanted to make sure that we were integrated with the team, and able to meet everyone before we joined the team in Southampton. Since then, this is only our second time traveling up. But we've spent some time in the London office as well, so it's been interesting to get to network with more people. And because there isn't an apprentice scheme in the London office, it's been nice to talk to them about what we do and answer their questions as well, because it's a very new concept for them.


It seems like there is a lot of support there for you. And you’ve been able to meet and network with the apprentices that are at the other offices. So, what is the support and relationship building like there?

 I personally think it's really good. Everyone seems to be keen to learn about the apprenticeship. Especially the solicitors that have been in the firm and the industry for a while. They’re keen to talk to us about what we do and what the structure of the programme is like. There is a lot of curiosity, but that then turns into support, as they’re all keen to make sure we get to grips with everything and understand what we’re doing. They know that we’re right at the start of our careers.


What does a normal day look like for you?

Because of working in legal admin, a lot of the things that we do are on a case-by-case basis. We deal with incoming and outgoing posts, making sure that things have been uploaded to the right system, and have been given to the right people. We also send out completed documents and make sure that we're filling out the right forms and sending checks to be completed by another team, such as Business Acceptance.


What has been kind of the biggest highlight so far?

I think for me, it was being involved in a campaign at work called ‘Our Voice’. This was where a few apprentices were asked questions about the work we do, what struggles we’ve had, and what things we’ve learned. Then this was sent around to the whole firm during National Apprenticeship Week. It was a great campaign to showcase the apprentices, get our voices out there, and tell people that we’re here to learn, grow, and contribute.


And have you had any challenges?
I think, for me, it's been the adjustment to being in an office environment but studying at the same time. I also moved away from my family for this apprenticeship. And while, in general, it hasn’t been a massive struggle for me, it's been a big change in my life.

How has it been to move away? Has having the support network at BCLP made it a bit easier for you?

Yeah, I think it was definitely a big change, and a bit daunting, coming into it. But it’s great being in the office every day. Everyone is supportive, and always there if I need to chat. It’s not just people in my own office, either. I have regular catchups with apprentices in the other offices that aren’t even in my cohort! So, it’s nice to have that community of people who are all rooting for you and will always help if needs be.

Have you joined any employee groups at your firm?

We have diversity networks at the firm. I've recently put my name forward to join the social mobility network, because of my background, but there are different networks such as  ethnicity, disability, and family networks. People can connect and talk about things that they're very passionate about through these.

A six-year programme is quite a big commitment. Did you have any concerns about the length of it whilst you were applying?

For me, I wasn’t necessarily concerned. A career in law will take a long time no matter what route you go down, so six years didn’t seem too long. When you compare it to doing a university degree, and then a training contract, and SQE preparations, doing an apprenticeship was a no-brainer, as I would roughly take the same amount of time going down the more traditional route anyway.


Do you have any advice for anyone who's either considering an apprenticeship or is currently in the thick of applying for one?

My key bit of advice for people is to look around. There are so many opportunities out there so read up about what options there are. A lot of schools will focus heavily on university, and I think it's easy to follow what the schools tell you but remember to focus on what is best for you. That is the most important thing.

To learn more about Jacob, as well as the rest of our GetMyFirstJob Apprentice Ambassadors, click here. And to start your own journey into law, see what a career in law could look like for you.

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