What were your main motivations for pursuing a career in law? Was there a particular influencer in this decision?
I have always had an interest in the ever-changing complexities of law and how it intertwines with our everyday lives. There are many professions within law and I first took an approach to law by going to university and studying a subject that specifically dealt with the rehabilitation of young offenders.
It wasn’t until I had completed two years at university and entered the world of work that I realised, for various reasons, this just wasn’t for me and I wanted to push myself to do better and become a solicitor.
How did you find out about the apprenticeship route?
I attended an apprenticeship fair with a preconceived notion that there would be nothing that would particularly connect to what I was passionate about.
Prior to attending, I had always assumed that the only way to have a good career in law was to go to university. Here, I initially found the option for a solicitor apprenticeship.
I went away and did some more research online which was when I realised it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
How was the recruitment process into the apprenticeship?
I found it to be an intense interview process as part of the second stage, we would attend a firm for two days and complete tasks set in a few departments as well as having an interview.
Nevertheless, this allowed for us to gain some valuable work experience and gave us an insight into what it was actually like to work in a firm. Although intense, it was enjoyable and reaffirmed that this was the career for me.
What does your typical day consist of whilst working at the firm?
I currently work in the commercial property department, where my day will typically consist of corresponding with clients, submitting Land Registry applications and drafting various types of contracts such as contract of sale, leases and deeds of surrender which is not dissimilar to that of a trainee solicitor who already has their degree.
I have also been given the opportunity to take more initiative on smaller transactions, having the opportunity to see how they work from start to completion.
Is there a specific area of law that you have become particularly interested in? Why?
I was particularly interested in conveyancing as I enjoy the non-contentious, transactional work that comes with this.
I am also interested in family law as this is a more personal and social area which will allow for you to help someone on a personal level. However, I am open minded to experiencing all areas my firm has to offer.
This is one of the many benefits of the solicitor apprenticeship, as you would spend longer in a seat compared to that of a trainee solicitor and therefore get a more in-depth experience which I feel will aid me in making a decision into what area to qualify.
How do you find the overall work to life balance of the apprenticeship?
Overall, I would say I have an equal work to life balance. Like any large commitment, there can be times when it can become challenging to balance the two, but the key is to be organised with your work as well as in life and set out a plan for when you will study and stick to that plan.
By doing this, I have found I haven’t had to make many sacrifices and I work more efficiently. Additionally, Sintons and Northumbria University are mindful of the challenges that arise from undertaking an apprenticeship and are very supportive in ensuring that we keep an equal work to life balance.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in the apprenticeship?
My initial challenge was entering a completely new and different environment with no knowledge of law whatsoever, but this was an unnecessary worry.
I was eased into the role I am currently in and although we are a busy firm, my supervisor takes the time out to explain particular areas I may be stuck with and ensures that I am learning as well as working.
What advice would you have for someone looking to go down the apprenticeship route?
Before you apply I would advise to think about the sort of firm you would like to work in and do your research into that firm. It is a six-year course, so I believe it is essential to enjoy your working environment.
Also, be sure to research the apprenticeship and what it entails, so you can compare that to the more traditional route into law.
Before attending an interview, know what the firm has been doing recently and what events they have participated in, which will help to show your interest in that particular firm.
Most importantly, be yourself and take as much from the interview process as you can - this process allows a firm to get to know you as a person and whether you would be a good fit to the team.
Saffron Sinclair is a solicitor apprentice at Sintons LLP.