Apprenticeships are a great alternative to the traditional routes to working in a law firm, allowing you to earn while you learn and gain valuable experience while attaining a recognised qualification. At Gowling WLG, we offer both legal and non-legal apprenticeships across a variety of different departments.
Lucy Jackaman is a second year solicitor apprentice currently working within the Commercial Litigation team in our London office. As part of National Apprenticeship week, we asked Lucy about her experiences during her apprenticeship and time so far at Gowling WLG.
What attracted you to a career in law?
I like the idea of working in an industry that challenges me. Working in a law firm is about hard work, but I thrive on the fast-paced nature of that work (especially working in litigation) and feel that I am being challenged often, which is great for my development.
I was also attracted to a career in law due to the variety of work and the universal application of my studies. There are so many areas that you can get involved in across both civil and criminal law, and I find it really interesting to understand the legal context of day-to-day things you often would not give a second thought. Even within my specific team there is huge variety of work including commercial disputes, financial services matters, fraud cases and insolvency and bankruptcy.
What attracted you to an apprenticeship programme?
I didn’t want to go to university – I have always enjoyed studying, but I didn’t feel as though it was for me, and I knew I wanted to start my career working in the city as soon as I could. An apprenticeship seemed like a no-brainer, as I would be able to gain the experience I wanted working in the real world whilst studying at the same time and getting paid to do so. The fact that I would also be able to gain a degree without any student debt was also a bonus.
From a time perspective, qualifying as a solicitor through an apprenticeship route is also not dissimilar to qualifying through the traditional route into law. Once qualified, I will also hopefully have seven years’ experience working within the firm and the legal industry generally, which will be beneficial to my career.
I was attracted to the Gowling WLG apprenticeship programme because you are able to complete a two-year paralegal apprenticeship first. Although I was fairly certain I wanted to pursue a career in law, the ability to complete a shorter programme and get a feel for the work environment and studies before committing to the seven-year solicitor apprenticeship programme was a big bonus. As it turned out, I loved working at the firm and started my solicitor apprenticeship as soon as I was able to!
Where you are currently in your apprenticeship journey?
I have been at Gowling WLG for over three years, I joined in autumn 2019 after finishing my A-Levels. I successfully completed my paralegal apprenticeship within my first two years at the firm, and moved on to the Solicitor Apprenticeship programme with the University of Law in September 2021. I am now in the second year of my solicitor apprenticeship and currently studying criminal law. I have one full non-working day per week to focus on my degree, and work full-time the remaining four days. I am due to qualify as a solicitor in 2027.
I am currently in the Commercial Litigation team in London, and have been since I joined the firm. Over the past few years, a lot of my work has been within the financial services (contentious) sector, but a benefit of working in litigation means you are able to get involved in a variety of different types of case.
I am due to rotate and complete two six-month seat moves in two years’ time.
What have been your personal highlights at Gowling WLG?
One of my main highlights at Gowling WLG would have to be qualifying as a paralegal and starting my solicitor apprenticeship. Being offered the chance to complete a solicitor apprenticeship and get a degree was always what I had wanted to do, so the fact that I had worked to achieve this opportunity was very rewarding.
Another highlight has been seeing a high-profile case that I had worked on since I started with the firm come to trial in 2022. This was a big matter, and gave me so much experience in the litigation process – from preparing initial bundles, to reviewing draft pleadings, meeting our witnesses and finally preparing for and attending parts of the five-week trial. It was a huge learning experience to see this case through from start to finish, and really helped me develop key skills and knowledge of civil procedure and the litigation process. I felt like a very valued member of the team and found the entire experience challenging but enjoyable – it was exactly what I had imagined working in the legal sector would be like.
Finally, and probably the biggest highlight in terms of my personal development, would be the recent opportunity to work on my own case as the managing fee earner. The fact that I am responsible for managing my own case and making decisions makes me feel valued, and to have been given this level of responsibility is very rewarding.
What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship?
Do it! A legal apprenticeship is definitely not an easy route to qualification, and is a big commitment so does require some thought. You need to be dedicated and work hard, and there will be periods where is it not always easy to juggle work and study.
However, in return, you will gain a wealth of experience before you are even qualified (which will make you a very valued member of any team) whilst earning a competitive wage and avoiding any student debt. You will be surrounded by a team of legal professionals to offer you help and support throughout your training, and who will provide you with great opportunities for development.
I am so happy with my decision to complete a legal apprenticeship, rather than qualifying through the traditional route, and would urge anyone else considering a career in law to do the same.
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.