Solicitor apprenticeship profile: Michelmores


All you need to know about Michelmores’ solicitor apprenticeship programme.

Michelmores solicitor apprenticeship review 2024

Chambers Student: How is the solicitor apprenticeship structured at the firm? What will an apprentice’s first year look like?

Georgie Lewis, early careers recruitment business partner: The apprenticeship is split into two elements: the level 4 paralegal apprenticeship and then the level 7 solicitor apprenticeship, which includes the SQE qualification. In your first year, you’ll work within one of our business service teams for the first six months (one of marketing, HR, knowledge, risk or IT). This seat is focused on getting you settled into the workplace; teaching you how to use outlook, how to prioritise work, and how to build networks and connections, all as a way to ease you into working life. After six months you will move into a legal admin role and start to learn about the team you're in, doing simple tasks and working up to taking the lead on more pieces of work. During your apprenticeship you will experience 9-10 different teams and a variety of practice areas. For the first three years of the solicitor apprenticeship, you will spend 12 months in three different teams, then the final two years of the apprenticeship will follow the same structure as our training contract (4x6 month seats).

CS: Why did you decide to apply for a legal apprenticeship? What was the appeal of this path into the legal profession compared to other routes?

Mia Riddle, apprentice: I had always wanted to go into the legal sector, and after experiencing more than 18 months within a professional setting, I decided to look for solicitor/legal apprenticeships. I applied because I knew this was my preferred way of learning, and I knew I would be able to gain experience from the very start of my career. This way, I didn’t have to go to university full time, move away from home, or worry about any student debt. I could learn and earn, whilst gaining valuable experience and building a portfolio that will support me when I become a qualified solicitor.

CS: What has the experience been like so far?

Fortunate Akinwunmi, apprentice: It's been so wonderful! I've learned more about the profession in these three months than I think I would've learned at university. I'm currently sitting in a business services seat in HR (where every apprentice sits when they first start with Michelmores). In HR, you're always dealing with people, and so it prompts you to develop your people skills quickly. I got to learn what modes of communication people were most comfortable with, how to request things urgently but politely, and how to smooth things over. You learn to communicate effectively and show empathy. I'm also continually learning the value of accuracy in my work. In HR, you're consistently looking through contracts, letters, and spreadsheets, and there's been a couple of times where I've missed the mark. It's all part of the learning process, but it's definitely taught me to be a lot more careful.

“It's been so wonderful! I've learned more about the profession in these three months than I think I would've learned at university.”

MR: I am currently within the commercial and regulatory disputes team as a legal support assistant. I am responsible for five lawyers in my team and complete daily admin tasks for them to assist with their work. This has enabled me to develop a clear understanding of the associate, senior associate, and partner roles, what they mean and the responsibilities they hold. All in all, this has given me a structured understanding of the firm and law firms in general, as well as the expectations they have of me.

CS: What is the balance between studying and work experience? How did you find the study element?

FA: It's not the same as working and studying when you're in the post-16 stage. Often work does not align with your studies, and your studies do not align with work. Whereas undertaking an apprenticeship means what you're studying directly informs the work you do. Right now, I'm taking a client care and office skills module, and this readily prepares me for the way I will interact with clients, both verbally and non-verbally.

CS: What sort of training, mentorship and support do you get as a legal apprentice?

“By the time you feel you've finally wrapped your head around everything, you've realised you can do so many tasks independently.”

FA: Support, mentoring, and training carry on throughout your time at Michelmores. My first week was filled with induction sessions and risk training sessions given by the heads of department, which was a nice opportunity to meet everyone. There were also introductions within the team. But, as I have progressed throughout my apprenticeship, that hasn't changed. There are consistent catchups throughout the week, both with the team and my supervisors. Michelmores integrates new joiners into the firm life and culture really well. It's easy to feel you're part of it, especially with all the socials we do! I wouldn't say the transition from A-levels to full-time work is easy, nor would I say it's intense, but it’s definitely different. By the time you feel you've finally wrapped your head around everything, you've realised you can do so many tasks independently. You build and develop so quickly.

CS: How does the application process work and what does the firm look for? What did you do to stand out?

GL: We look for all work experiences, paid or unpaid, legal or not. All experience is good experience, so include it in your application form. Please don’t panic if you don't have any or much legal experience, you will have developed many transferable skills through other opportunities and those are what we want to hear about. We recruit based on future potential, values, behaviours and skills, not track record. People who tend to stand out show a real passion to work in law and know their reasons for wanting a career in this sector, they have done their research, and are keen to work with us. It’s also good to demonstrate that you align to our values and show your personality, individuality, and what you could bring to the firm.

FA: I came across Michelmores at the University of Law jobs fair earlier this year. The banner drew me to the stand as it read "the destination law firm". And I went over to talk with the exhibitors. I know that Michelmores is a full-service law firm, and I discussed why this appealed to me. It meant that I could explore the variety of law within a firm where I knew I was supported and encouraged. Legal work experience is not a necessity. Learning from babysitting your cousin, volunteering at a church, or helping with an open day in sixth form is an important skill. In my experience, firms want to hear why you think your experience translates to a career in law. Draw upon some common skills, such as attention to detail and communication. However, try to be a little unique and talk about being adaptable or showing tact.

Our commercial value is really important to us. At my interview, the recruiters asked about a news story or article I had read recently and why I liked it. I was also asked what impact I thought it could have on the industry and the world. I answered this question by focusing on the PESTLE analysis, but any acronym that points to a consideration of a multitude of professions is helpful. My tips would be to practice the hard questions, so you are prepared for every eventuality. Why does that story inform this story? Commercial awareness is looking at the chain reaction of events; why does this inform or impact that?

CS: What has been your favourite moment of the solicitor apprenticeship?

“I love going to career fairs and talking to current students about their post-18 plans. I also enjoy seeing their eyes go wide when I tell them about legal apprenticeships!”

FA: I love going to career fairs and talking to current students about their post-18 plans. I also enjoy seeing their eyes go wide when I tell them about legal apprenticeships! However, recently I volunteered to support a programme that Michelmores is proud to be part of, the Empower Girls programme. We hosted about 40 year 9 girls from Exeter schools, gave them an office tour, engaged them in an interactive communication and self-awareness workshop, and educated them about different pathways to law. It was a great morning to be part of because we all got to show these girls that they shouldn't limit themselves or have lower expectations of where they can end up.

CS: What is unique about the solicitor apprenticeship at the firm?

GL: Here we are focused on tailoring the programme to you, we will take your interests into account and make sure you experience a variety of teams within the firm. We also offer the benefit of starting within one of our BST teams, this means that if you decide becoming a solicitor isn't for you, you will have experienced another role and have a better idea of what you do or don't enjoy, and this will help you moving forwards. Our apprenticeship is designed with you and your best interests at the centre of it.