An Interview with Express Solicitors’ Apprentice – Junior Smith

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Junior Smith joined Express Solicitors in October 2013 as part of a new Apprentice scheme run by Manchester Metropolitan University. He shares his views on this new scheme in an interview below.

Name: Junior Smith

Hometown: Warrington

What A Levels did you study?

I completed my A-levels at Priestley College in Warrington and studied; Politics (B), Law (A*), Psychology (A) and BTEC extended Sports Diploma.

What was your first job?

My first role involved catering for an agency in St. Helens, so similar to waitering but in a large, busy kitchen.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship scheme?

After achieving good grades at college, I suddenly had many options available to me and initially it was difficult to choose which career path would be most suited to my needs. At first I was indecisive and contemplated whether to go to university full-time and pursue a 3 year law degree. This would be, closely followed by the LPC and then a two-year training contract, which is generally the standard pathway to becoming a solicitor.

Whilst deliberating which university to attend out of the ones I had offers for, I was advised by the student support centre at Priestley College about a brand new apprenticeship scheme for legal students. I was informed that the scheme would consist of a combination of attending university, so completing coursework and exams, as well as working within a law firm. I decided to undertake the apprenticeship scheme due to it allowing me to gain extensive experience that would hopefully distinguish me from other law graduates.

I understand that the legal environment is very competitive, so as well as having the academic achievements to stand out; I know that it’s vital to have the experience to show that you can demonstrate your competence in a more practical form.

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How do you think this scheme will benefit you?

I hope this scheme will benefit me by broadening my experience within the legal environment; and at the same time helping me to keep financially stable whilst studying. I’d say the most advantageous aspect of my apprenticeship is being able to earn money and qualify without having to take out a student loan or have any debt.

Eventually I hope to become a qualified solicitor and the route I’m on now requires no training contract.  At the end of my apprenticeship once I have completed all of the relevant levels, I will hopefully be a fully qualified chartered institute legal executive (CILEX). In addition to this, once qualifying fully as a legal executive, I would then undertake the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and on completion of this be qualified as a solicitor.

Furthermore, during my time working in a legal environment I hope to build a network of connections as I feel this is a vital component towards a successful career in the legal industry.

Whilst undertaking my apprenticeship I can benefit from all of the perks of being a full-time student such as the NUS card and student discounts.

Finally, alongside all of the legal qualifications that I’m working towards I also get training in ICT skills to learn Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

What have you been involved with at Express Solicitors?

I have done a diverse range of work so far at Express Solicitors involving; creating physical files for the fee earners, working with the New Client team in a busy operational role to ensure the files are passed to the correct department be in Road Traffic Accident, Employers Liability, Clinical Negligence or Public / Occupiers Liability.  In addition I have attended a PADA with my mentor and continue to build experience in the field of Personal Injury Litigation.

What have you learnt so far?

I feel as though I’ve learnt a great deal about how a law firm operates in terms of the exact procedures of how a claim is run from start to finish.

I have also learnt that as an apprentice it is important to be proactive with your development at the firm. As I learn new things I will ask to do new things, such as attend court, to build on my knowledge.

What lies in the future at Express Solicitors?

The next step for me at Express Solicitors is to start taking client enquires in the new client team. This role will involve drafting legal documents, speaking to clients over the phone and face-to-face communication and attending court.

I also have a number of exams and law units to study as part of my apprenticeship. The next law units involve topics such as client care skills, introduction to law and practice, and law of tort.

As well as doing exams I also hope to further my academic achievements by completing a mooting competition and various other law events in the near future.

Junior will be representing Express Solicitors at the MMU Legal Apprenticeship open day on Monday 3rd March. Come and say hello! Find out more here: http://www.law.mmu.ac.uk/legal-services-apprenticeships-open-day

If you’re interested about a possible legal apprenticeship at Express Solicitors, please send your CV and covering letter to recruitment@expresssolicitors.com 

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