By Holly Moore
Hi! I’m Holly, a fifth year Solicitor Apprentice at ITV.
I am here to share my story, and to shed some light on alternative routes into the legal profession and the roles within the industry (being a corporate city lawyer isn’t for everyone!). Ultimately, I want to inspire others to pursue their dream of becoming a lawyer, no matter the circumstance!
I decided to pursue a Solicitor Apprenticeship when I was at college studying for my A-Levels in Law, English Literature and Psychology. I had been determined to become a solicitor since my work experience at a city firm. I loved the way that they analysed, interpreted and argued the law.
I had the right grades, the right mind-set, drive and experience; however, financially, full-time university was not an option for me.
My priority therefore, was to work. As fate would have it, I came across Solicitor Apprenticeships in my final year of college, the same year that they were created.
Solicitor Apprenticeships are Level 7 Apprenticeships, during which you work for an employer for six years. For the first four years you study towards your law degree, and for the final two years you sit your qualifying exams. Ultimately, this leads to your qualification as a solicitor at the end of the scheme.
They offered the chance to work at a prestigious law firm or company, earn a salary, attend university to get your law degree and qualifying exams, gain 6 years of coveted legal experience, and qualify as a solicitor with NO university debt (!).
At the risk of sounding cheesy, it really was a dream come true, and ideal for somebody in my situation with the capability, but without the practical means, to pursue the traditional route to qualification.
After my discovery, I applied to almost all Solicitor Apprenticeships that had become available, determined that this would be the route I would take. At the interview stage, it was clear that some firms were just not for me, and equally, I was not for them. It was a learning curve, for sure.
When I applied to ITV, I had never considered becoming an in-house lawyer, or working within the television and broadcasting industry in any capacity. However, the more I researched working for an in-house legal team and advising the company on complex and creative legal issues to do with intellectual property, commissioning, advertising, litigation and compliance, this seemed like a brilliant option for me. I never liked being traditional!
After a long and gruelling application process, I was over the moon to take the position as the first in-house Solicitor Apprentice in the UK!
Since starting my role at ITV four years ago, I have worked across many of the companies legal departments, helped other companies and firms to implement their apprenticeship courses, become involved with a social mobility charity, and I just graduated with a First Class law degree! I would not have been able to achieve any of this if I hadn’t chosen this route to qualification.
A question I often get asked is: do you feel as though you have missed out on anything, or taken a ‘lesser’ route?
My answer is absolutely not. I have graduated with the same law degree as everybody at full-time university, just via a part time course. If anything, I believe the part time course to be even more challenging as we only have one face-to-face session per month, with the rest of the teaching via online distance learning. The exams are exactly the same, and taken in exactly the same way. The only difference is that I have graduated with four years legal experience, and no university debt. I have been able to achieve everything I have wanted to, in my own way, while maintaining my social life and outside hobbies.
This is not to say that Solicitor Apprenticeships are for everyone. They are a huge six- year commitment, they are challenging, and I have struggled at times. You can also miss out on the ‘university experience’. This was not an issue for me as I was never interested in that side of university, but it is a big consideration before you commit to this route, as well as the time and commitment that you will need to show. Some people prefer to attend full-time university, as this suits their strengths and their plan better, but this was not for me.
Going into the final two-year stretch of my apprenticeship, I am looking forward to preparing for and taking the SQE, continuing to work at ITV, secondments to private practice, and qualifying as a solicitor in 2022!
The bottom line here is, you do not have to pursue the traditional route to qualifying as a lawyer if this doesn’t work for you, or if you are unable to do so. There are alternatives open to you, which will open doors, provide opportunities and get you the same result!
You must make the right decision for you, remembering that you can achieve anything you wish to, if you work hard enough.
I know I made the right decision for me.
For further advice and information, please follow my Instagram page @thatlawblog