Ace your A-Levels, become an apprentice: legal influencers help you get in the law door

Sian Wharf is an aspiring legal apprentice, in this blog post she explains what a solicitor apprenticeship is and how they’re taking the legal profession by storm as an alternative route to qualify as a solicitor. Sian shares insights into why she follows legal influencers and how you can make the most of this generous community of lawfluencers to secure a solicitor apprenticeship for yourself.

What are solicitor apprenticeships?

Trailblazing solicitor apprenticeships were introduced in 2016 following the announcement of the Government Apprenticeship Levy, as an additional route to qualifying as a solicitor with one of the main aims being to make the legal profession more diverse and inclusive.

Solicitor apprenticeships generally last for six years, during which the apprentice will work within a law firm or in-house legal team four days a week, whilst studying towards their law degree (usually an LLB in Law and Legal Practice) and then in the later part of the apprenticeship the SQE, the practical and theoretical part of the apprenticeship will conclude in the apprentice being admitted as a solicitor (subject to passing all the elements).

During the apprenticeship, you will be paid a salary by an employer with all of your tuition costs being funded, meaning apprentices qualify with much more practical experience than their ‘traditional route’ counterparts and have the same qualifications without any university debt!

If you worry about the parity of esteem between the solicitor apprenticeship and the ‘traditional route’ please don’t - over the past few years solicitor apprenticeships have gained popularity with many notable law firms now offering this route to qualification. And for anyone still in doubt, during National Apprenticeship Week 2024, the President of the Law Society of England and Wales said in a speech “The message from the largest law firms is clear, there’s not a better or preferred route into the profession, you should simply choose the one that suits you best.”

Lawfluencers every aspiring legal apprentice should follow:

I could go on to write about solicitor apprenticeships all day long, but in this instance I can’t, that’s why I have developed a list of ‘lawfluencers’ I suggest you follow in order to gain further information about this route to qualification.

Maia Crockford (Instagram Handle @mylegalcareer)

Maia is currently in the final year of her solicitor apprenticeship with DAC Beachcroft studying for her SQE in order to be admitted as a solicitor and has shared the journey of her apprenticeship for numerous years on her Instagram page. Maia is a key advocate for this route to qualification and has spoken on Robert Hanna’s “Legally Speaking Podcast” all about her route into the profession. Maia has developed @yourlegalcareer to help other aspiring lawyers with their own journey and has authored the e-book “Securing a Legal Apprenticeship - Your Legal Career 1st Edition” which I believe is a must-read for any aspiring legal apprentice.

Holly Moore (@thatlawblog)

A true legal apprentice trailblazer, Holly is the first solicitor to be trained in-house through the solicitor apprentice route to qualification. As a first-generation university student who dismissed the traditional route due to the financial barriers it posed, Holly is a bright reminder to us all, that no matter where you come from, if you work hard enough, there is nothing you can’t achieve. Holly continually helps aspiring legal apprentices, one way in which she does this is through sharing free resources such as CV templates and practice competency questions, to make sure candidates are fully equipped to secure their dream roles.

Hamza Islam (LinkedIn account)

Part of the first cohort of Norton Role Fulbright Solicitor Degree Apprentices is a true champion of this route to qualification. Hamza has appeared on the popular apprenticeship podcast Apprentago and is the Co-Founder of ACE Insights (Apprentices Creating Excellence). ACE puts talent back on the radar, challenging information gaps through championing the apprenticeship route. ACE is a very valuable resource to aspiring apprentices offering insight days and advertising some of the upcoming apprenticeship opportunities (but please note these are not all necessarily legal apprenticeship opportunities). 

Jordan Lewis (@littlelawlife)

Jordan is currently in the fifth year of her solicitor apprenticeship and shares her day-to-day life as an apprentice as well as an array of lifestyle content. Jordan gives real insight into her job such as different seat rotations, how she approaches her university study and educates the next cohort of aspiring apprentices for example hosting a panel for BBC Bitesize on their careers roadshow! I particularly think Jordan’s journey is really inspiring to those, who like her, live in rural areas of the country and not in the ‘big cities’ as initially she commuted two hours a day in order to pursue a legal career - what dedication!

Alika Lee (@apprenticeish)

Alika is a true champion of the apprenticeship route and has offered much insight to aspiring legal apprentices within her Instagram but more importantly her YouTube channel. Through videos such as “Finances as a degree apprentice” and ”The truth about doing a degree apprenticeship”, Alika has completely demystified the world of a legal apprentice in such an authentic way sharing the highs and lows of her experience meaning as an aspiring apprentice you can get a real view into what apprenticeship life is actually like. 

Amia Tahir (TikTok @at797)

A Solicitor Apprentice at Dentons and the Co-Founder of mylaunchpad, Amia is very active on TikTok and offers her audience a genuine and down-to-earth insight of life as a solicitor apprentice and gives advice to aspiring apprentices on a range of topics including what to consider before applying to apprenticeships and how you find legal work experience. Mylaunchpad offers a free and voluntary mentoring service, providing guidance and assistance throughout the solicitor apprenticeship application process assisting students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Sami Paul (LinkedIn account)

Just as trainee solicitors can help aspiring legal apprentices, so can apprentices in other industries such as Sami Paul (an Audit Apprentice at KMPG). Sami is such a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and his contents helps to inform school-leavers fully about their post sixth-form options. In a straight-to-the-point manner, Sami has tackled topics such as how 18-year-olds can add value to employers and tackling apprenticeship misconceptions. Sami has already sparked conversations surrounding apprenticeships in such a short space of time and I look forward to following his content and seeing how he grows.

Lauren Moore (@mooreonlaw)

While, Laurens’s advice is based on the more traditional route of gaining a degree, Lauren’s journey is far from the most conventional as she was a chemistry graduate who now is a trainee solicitor at a multinational law firm. Lauren provides many insights into her life as a trainee solicitor such as the tasks she gets involved in within each seat and how she deals with imposter syndrome. Most advice for trainee applications can be used by aspiring solicitor apprentices (if in doubt about how to apply trainee application advice to solicitor apprenticeship application advice - I have an upcoming post all about this on my LinkedIn). 

Jodie Hill (@iamjodiehill)

A very popular name in the legal profession, Jodie Hill’s advocacy and championing of all things diversity, equity and inclusion are crucial and even at an aspiring legal apprentice level, her content can help to inform the choices you make about your career. I believe her ultra-transparency regarding her own journey with ADHD and PTSD will empower aspiring lawyers to be able to speak up about any challenges they face and embrace being their true authentic self.

Joanna Hughes (LinkedIn account)

The Founder and Director at Joanna Hughes Solicitor Apprenticeships, Joanna was previously a solicitor in a large international law firm for 25 years, but now works tirelessly to connect outstanding aspiring solicitors with law firm opportunities through her own work, and work with City Century. Joanna shares useful resources and events to her networks, but most notably was her dedication to National Apprenticeship Week and her round-ups of activities every day. Joanna is also a Member of the UCAS Apprenticeship Stakeholder Group and a Member of The Sutton Trust Apprenticeships Steering Group.

Patrick McCann (LinkedIn account)

Strategic visionary Patrick McCann is, amongst other things, the Chair of the City of London Law Society’s Training Committee and the CEO of City Century, the solicitor apprenticeship career-creating collaboration of over 50 City law firms. Patrick is a vocal advocate for this route into law and widening up access into legal profession as a whole (as he’s also the Co-Founder of SWSQF). If you’re an aspiring legal apprentice, I’d highly recommend giving Patrick and City Century a follow.

A reminder of some useful NAW 2024 content in case you missed it:

National Apprenticeship Week 2024, recently took place and some really great content was shared, here are some key moments in case you missed them: 

 

CityCenturyXTheLawSociety Event:

 

Difference between Graduate and Apprentice Salaries:

Free Legal Apprenticeship Masterclass:

Shoosmiths Solicitor Apprenticeships:

Shoosmiths offers an opportunity to qualify as a solicitor through their six-year apprenticeship program. This is a perfect alternative for those who prefer hands-on learning and earning while you study. You'll spend 80% of your time gaining practical experience alongside expert professionals, tackling real legal challenges. The remaining 20% will be dedicated to academic studies, leading to an LLB (Hons) in Law and Legal Practice. Throughout the program, you'll receive dedicated support from a Personal Tutor and your team at Shoosmiths, ensuring your success. This new program, launching in Birmingham in 2024 opens doors to a rewarding legal career without the traditional university route, equipping you with the technical knowledge, practical skills, and professional ethics needed to thrive in the legal world.

Applications for the solicitor apprenticeship will close on 10 March. There are four places and the apprenticeships will be based from Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office starting in September 2024. Birmingham has been chosen to host the pilot, given the depth and diversity of the talent pool and the range of departments available for apprenticeship seats, with a view to increase the programme to more locations in future years.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

Would you like to learn more before you submit your application form? Register to attend the Shoosmiths virtual insight event on 27 February at 4:30pm.

This online event is specifically designed for anyone interested in becoming a Solicitor Apprentice at Shoosmiths. It starts with two personal journeys from a Lawyer and a Trainee Solicitor, offering firsthand insights into the legal profession. BPP then provides an overview of the degree and SQE learning programme, followed by Shoosmiths' Emerging Talent team delving into their specific programme details and how to submit a strong application. The event concludes with guidance on navigating the online assessment and what to expect at the assessment centre, ensuring attendees are fully prepared for the application process.

Register for your place at the virtual insight event, here: zoom webinar link

About the author:

Sian Wharf is an aspiring legal apprentice based in Yorkshire, after finding out about the apprenticeship route to qualification in Year 9 of secondary school, Sian has emerged as a true champion of the apprenticeship route to qualification. Sian shares weekly content on her LinkedIn including her own journey to securing an apprenticeship and useful resources/insights and is currently building up her professional Instagram (@legallysw). Aside, from her personal advocating of this route, Sian is one of eleven Solicitor Apprenticeship Ambassadors with City Century (a career-creating collaboration created by the City of London Law Society to increase the amount of solicitor apprenticeships being offered in the City of London).

Shoosmiths’ Emerging Talent Team thanks Sian for authoring this article for the Shoosmiths careers blog.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at our other recent posts, or if you have any questions specifically about training contracts, you might find your answer on our FAQ page.

You can get in touch with us about career-related queries at [email protected].

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.

Insights

Read the latest articles and commentary from Shoosmiths or you can explore our full insights library.