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Apprenticeships – ‘progress a career in law’

Some of our apprentices share their experiences to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2023

Zoe Ireland was working as a Legal Secretary in the Real Estate group at Lodders’ Stratford upon Avon office when she first heard about the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship.

Zoe Ireland, Lodders Solicitors, Real Estate, Stratford upon Avon

“The apprenticeship seemed the perfect stepping stone,” says Zoe. “Whilst I did not have a background in the law, it was impossible to resist the opportunity the apprenticeship presented for me to progress, develop, and build a career in the law.”

Zoe (24) who went to Evesham High School, then Stratford-upon-Avon College where she obtained the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business, began the two-year Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship run by Coventry University in 2018.

Gaining knowledge and skills

Designed to provide an introduction to the law and legal practice, with key elements including Legal Research, Contract Law, and Client Care, Zoe says the apprenticeship meant she was able to learn from her studies but also gain knowledge from working:

“It was useful to have the one-on-one time with my university lecturer to discuss work or any questions, as well as learn new skills, acquire fresh knowledge, and develop an understanding of the workings of different areas of the law, all alongside continuing to work in the environment I love.”

Having completed the Paralegal Apprenticeship in 2020, continuing her studies with Damar, and more recently receiving her ACILEx badge, Zoe is now a Paralegal in Lodders top-ranking, award winning Real Estate group, which is one of the largest in the West Midlands with more than 30 legal experts in planning, highways, construction, renewable energy, and environmental issues.

“The apprenticeship really appealed to me as I have been able to gain experience in practice as well as start my journey to becoming a lawyer,” she says: “Five years from now I will have hopefully completed or at least be part way through CILEx Level 6. It is hard to say where my career will go next, but hopefully I will still be at Lodders, and certainly even more experienced in the legal world.

“For now, I am enjoying being a part of the Real Estate team, learning new things every day. I am now working on commercial property deals and transactions, specifically landlord and tenant matters, alongside head of Lodders’ Business Property team Alastair Frew, a partner at the firm. I am enjoying assisting with the drafting of leases and transfers, and with a variety of commercial property transactions and first registrations.”

Zoe’s experience of her apprenticeship is very much in tune with the theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (6 to 12 February 2023), ‘Skills for Life’.

2023 marks the 16th annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships, with the Skills for Life theme chosen to enable reflection on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and for businesses to grow a talented workforce that is equipped with future-ready skills.

Professional development programme

Lodders offered Zoe the opportunity to become its first ever Legal Apprentice in 2018, when it represented a new step in its wider training and professional development programme, as the firm’s Lodders’ HR Director, Sarah Naffine, explains apprenticeships are now firmly part of the firm’s wider training and professional development programme:

“Apprenticeships are an important route for Lodders to support its next generation of legal specialists, and part of our wider commitment to attracting, developing, and nurturing legal talent, and talent development and retention strategies.

“The Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship was first introduced in September 2016. The newest path to becoming a solicitor, the recommended minimum requirement for the solicitor apprenticeship programme is five GCSEs, and three A Levels or their equivalent. The programme runs for between five and six years – although this may reduce if exemptions from training are applicable – and consists of on-the-job training and two exams: SQE 1 and SQE 2.”

Marketing apprentice

William Elson (20) began his Level 3 in digital marketing apprenticeship at Lodders in 2021, and says that combining on-the-job digital marketing work with experience of the ‘real, everyday life’ in a busy professional services firm are what he is enjoying most:

“Apprenticeships are known to be a great route to ‘earn while you learn’, and for me, this is definitely the case. The chance to gain experience, knowledge, a qualification, and earn a salary, really appeal to me. The work in Lodders’ busy marketing department is very varied – from digital marketing, content creation, website management and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), digital PPC advertising campaigns, and social media marketing – mean I have a great mix of creative and analytical tasks, alongside putting my skills into practice while learning new ones and improving my knowledge.”

Other apprentices

As well as Zoe and Will, Lodders currently has a number of other apprentices: Sharne Reid, who used to be part of the firm’s Front of House team, recently began an apprenticeship with the firm’s Family Law team, and Jenny Jones started the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship in 2022 in the firm’s Corporate and Commercial team. Charlotte Green officially starts an apprentice in the Real Estate group on 1 March.

LodPod: Routes into law

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Emily Brampton, Lodders Solicitors

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