A six-year apprenticeship is a substantial commitment from both the company providing it and the apprentices who take it on, but for Hay & Kilner Law Firm and its two legal apprentices, it’s an approach that’s already paying dividends.
The Newcastle-headquartered practice recruited Rachel Armstrong and Jessica Leslie last year for solicitor apprenticeships which will see them complete a law degree and become professionally qualified through a combination of academic and on the job training while also earning a salary.
Rachel and Jessica are working within different Hay & Kilner departments – Rachel in the residential property conveyancing team and Jessica in the private client division – and are handling live client work under the close supervision of senior solicitors to help them build a detailed understanding of working in the legal profession.
They will each complete two, two-year-long training ‘seats’ as part of their apprenticeships, which are designed to take them towards completing the new Solicitors Qualification Exam at the end of their training period.
In addition to this, Rachel and Jessica spend one day every fortnight at Northumbria University, with a further day every fortnight provided for study purposes – and the very positive feedback they’ve both had from their tutors for their work so far has been matched by the views of their Hay & Kilner teams.
Jan Rzedzian, associate solicitor with Hay & Kilner, who is acting as a mentor to Rachel and Jessica, says: “The legal apprenticeship is structured differently to standard training programmes and is shaped to meet the particular needs and interests of each candidate.
“It gives apprentices the time to build up an appreciation of the law in practice, not just in textbooks, and helps them get to grips early on with things like managing your case load, dealing with clients and working as part of a legal team.
“The close supervision that our apprentices get from our highly qualified solicitors means they get detailed feedback on their work and they can use this to begin to build their roles within their teams.”
Rachel and Jessica took different routes into their apprenticeships. Jessica joined Hay & Kilner after finishing sixth form at St Robert of Newminster School in Washington, while Rachel was already working as a paralegal with the firm and had previously worked for a real estate company in Spain for three years after completing her initial Spanish & Management degree.
Jessica Leslie says: “I knew I wanted to follow a legal career and the apprenticeship seemed like the best way in which to gain hands-on experience of what the job entails.
“Hay & Kilner had a very good reputation, and it’s a really positive environment in which to work. I’m already getting lots of opportunities to carry out live client work, to meet clients and sit in on meetings, all with the support of a very approachable and highly professional team.
“Getting the chance to be part of different departments will undoubtedly give me an advantage when I qualify and I’m loving how everything has gone so far.”
Rachel Armstrong adds: “Having worked after I’d completed my first degree, I would have found it difficult not to be earning a salary while I studied, but the legal apprenticeship addresses this issue and it’s an option I’d highly recommend to other graduates in my position.
“I’d always had an interest in the law and taking this route into the profession is enabling me to gain practical experience while also learning academically – going back into the classroom was quite daunting at first, but it’s a very friendly group and I’m really enjoying it.”
Jan Rzedzian concludes: “It’s a big commitment by any law firm to take someone on from scratch for such a long training period, but Rachel and Jessica have made very impressive progress in their first six months with us and are gaining invaluable experience that will stand them in good stead for their future legal careers.”
For more information on any of the above, please contact Jan Rzedzian, or call 0191 232 8345.