20 September 2012
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DWF apprentice Sloane Mills talks about why she took the legal apprenticeship instead of the traditional route to a career in law
Name: Sloane Mills
Position: Administration Assistant/Paralegal Apprentice
Did you ever consider doing the traditional route into law? I’ve always been interested in a career in law after studying it at school and at A-Level. I definitely considered going to university to study law as I wasn’t aware of any other routes of getting in to the profession at that time.
Why did you decide to do a legal apprenticeship instead of the traditional route? I had never come across a legal apprenticeship before until I applied for the job. Although gaining a place at university studying journalism, I didn’t feel like university was for me at that time and law was what I really wanted to do. I knew that whilst doing an apprenticeship I would be able to earn money whilst studying and gaining experience in the field rather than getting in to lots of debt, especially as the fees had just risen, and having no experience after graduating.
At what stage of education/training did you find out about the apprenticeship opportunity and what was the application criteria? I found out about the apprenticeship when applying for jobs after I completed my A-Levels at college. I wanted a job in the legal field however and I was struggling to find positions that didn’t require lots of experience, as I had none in a legal environment. After seeing the apprenticeship advertised online I submitted the application questionnaire. After that, I was invited to an assessment centre which consisted of a group discussion with other candidates, a formal interview and data entry and verbal reasoning tasks.
What do you think the advantages of the apprenticeship route into law are? The main advantage of the apprenticeship route is gaining valuable on-the-job experience whilst achieving professional qualifications through CILEx. It’s encouraging to be able to put what I’ve learnt in to practice on a day-to-day basis.
What do you think the disadvantages of the apprenticeship route into law are? I don’t feel there are any major disadvantages to the apprenticeship route apart from the fact it does take a little longer to complete than going down the traditional route. The advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages though.
How do you feel your work and status compares to the trainees at DWF? I work in the administration team which assists all sectors in insurance so I feel my role is important in helping other teams at the firm. I think at DWF importance is placed on equality and I’ve never been made to feel inferior to anyone else. Everybody has to start somewhere and the skills I’m learning as an administration assistant will help me progress to a paralegal position later on.
Do you feel there is more/less/the same opportunity for career progression within the firm for an apprentices as a trainee? It’s possible to eventually become a partner through studying CILex so there’s a lot of opportunity to progress. I know of lots of employees at DWF who have studied in this way and have very successful careers.
What has the reaction been to having apprentices in the law firm from trainees/associates/partners/clients in your view? Everybody has been really supportive and welcoming since the beginning. I’ve been offered lots of help from colleagues and DWF also run internal training sessions. It’s nice to feel so supported by others in the work place.
If you had to give advice to someone doing their A levels about which route to take into law - what would you say? I would definitely suggest taking the apprenticeship route as, in my opinion, it’s the perfect way to start a career in law. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication but the benefits of working and learning at the same time make it worth all the effort.