Apprenticeships are a great way for aspiring solicitors to gain practical experience while also working towards a qualification. At Gowling WLG, we offer apprenticeships across a variety of departments with roles in legal and business services teams.
Katy Love is a solicitor apprentice currently in the final stages of her apprenticeship and taking her SQE exams. As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we speak to Katy about her career at Gowling WLG so far.
What attracted you to a career in law?
A career in law is not something I had fully considered when I first started looking for an apprenticeship – but with hindsight, it was a career I was destined to pursue! I like rules, I like structure and I wanted a career that would give me a pathway to follow, whilst being challenging enough to keep me engaged – my career in law has been exactly that.
What attracted you to an apprenticeship programme?
In my final year of sixth form, I knew I didn’t want to go to university – I was coming from a single income household and could not decide what career was for me. Whilst university was something I was capable of, it just didn’t seem viable.
I decided to look for apprenticeships – I had so much uncertainty about what I wanted to study, but I knew that I wanted to develop my general skillset, as I figured it would be the best approach when feeling so uncertain about what I wanted to do.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that professional apprenticeships were starting to become more available – at the time, apprenticeships weren’t really spoken about and my school had always been very “university driven”.
I found the paralegal apprenticeship with Gowling WLG and I was adamant it was what I wanted to do – I had studied law at A Level and found it interesting and I was thrilled at the thought that I could start a legal career at 18! The role was also based within the Real Estate team – this suited me perfectly, as I already had an interest in property following my studies in geography and my mom’s own career as a building surveyor.
What particularly drew me to Gowling WLG (at the time, Wragge Lawrence & Graham) was the culture of the firm – it was apparent from my research online that Gowling WLG was a firm passionate about the work it delivered for clients and the environment it created for its people. Starting off in your career, you want to know that you will be fully supported by a firm that is passionate about you – and that’s exactly what I found at Gowling WLG.
Can you tell us a little more about where you are currently at in your apprenticeship journey?
I started the paralegal apprenticeship with Gowling WLG in 2015 following the completion of my A Levels – I was one of four apprentices and we were the very first that the firm had employed! I was based in the Housing Development and Regeneration team, working on the delivery of social housing. At the time, the solicitor apprenticeship did not exist but there were rumours that something was being created…
In 2017, the solicitor apprenticeship was in its early stages, with only a small number of apprentices starting the route in 2016. I was offered the opportunity to start the apprenticeship, alongside two other apprentices from my original cohort – as of 2023, I am in my final year of that scheme!
I am still based in the same team but now have a much wider responsibility and skillset, working with my own files and supervising juniors in the team – I work with solicitors of all levels and am confident in the work I can deliver. I am hoping to qualify into the team this year as a solicitor following completion of the SQE exams. During my time in the role, I have also undertaken seat rotations in both the Birmingham Corporate team and the Property Litigation team.
The skills I have learnt throughout my apprenticeship are invaluable – I have obviously developed an array of technical knowledge based on my role, but I have also developed my communication skills, my confidence and am particularly organised with time management (something that every apprentice develops by managing their studies alongside full time employment!). The skills I have developed were particularly evident in my seat rotations as I adapted quickly to new types of law and felt comfortable working within a new team.
I am so proud to be an apprentice and am thrilled that this route gave me an opportunity that I would never have envisioned would be mine when I first starting looking for apprenticeships.
What have been your personal highlights at Gowling WLG?
A big highlight for me was that I shortlisted for “Apprentice of the Year” at the Birmingham Law Society Awards in 2022 – this was a huge achievement and it was incredibly out of my comfort zone, but so much fun. It was wonderful to be a shortlisted nominee as I was proud to have reached that point in my career where my journey was being recognised as worthy of an award! I felt particularly proud given that legal apprenticeships were so new when I started that the award didn’t even exist back then… to have reached a point where there are hundreds of apprentices studying alongside me is an incredible feeling.
What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are not easy but they are worthwhile – my biggest advice is to trust the process and know that the work you put into an apprenticeship will always pay off.
I worked very hard in my first two years at Gowling WLG, which unknowingly lead me to the opportunity of a lifetime to start my journey towards qualifying as a solicitor. My solicitor apprenticeship has led me to work with amazing people across the firm and with a number of wonderful clients. I find it exceptionally rewarding to know that I have had an impact on someone’s life by being part of the process that built a home.
If you are considering an apprenticeship, go for something that you are interested in and don’t worry if it is out of your comfort zone – that is exactly where I started and it is exactly where you need to be to start something amazing. The decision to start an apprenticeship was the best decision I have ever made.
Find out more about our apprenticeships
Interested in exploring an apprenticeship in a law firm? Visit our careers website to find out more about the programmes we offer.
About the author(s)
Katy is a Birmingham-based Solicitor Apprentice within the Social Housing team. Katy started the Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship in September 2017 after successfully completing the Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services (Paralegal Apprenticeship). Katy will graduate in 2022 with qualification by the SQE exams later that same year.