From education to employment

Embarking on our legal career: Inside Linklaters’ Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme

Akeef Choudhury, Jeya James and Annabel Kaley

Akeef Choudhury, Jeya James and Annabel Kaley, Solicitor Apprentices at Linklaters, discuss their experiences as part of the firm’s Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme – from the variety of work and the supportive culture, to life beyond the desk and the personal growth opportunities available.

“Traditional routes” to qualification – involving completion of a full-time university undergraduate course – can put a career in law out of reach of many. Solicitor apprenticeships can therefore help level the playing field and open up access to the legal industry. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we dive into what it’s like to be part of Linklaters’ Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme.

How does the programme work?

As apprentices, we have the opportunity to explore the firm’s diverse range of practice areas, including corporate, M&A, banking & finance, energy & infrastructure, and litigation, among others. We rotate around the firm’s practice areas annually for the first four years before advancing into the firm’s training contract in years five and six. The training contract follows a classic structure of four six-month seats, enabling us to gain exposure across up to eight different legal practices in total. We are each supported by a dedicated Early Careers team, Principals, trainee buddies, cross practice mentors, and sponsoring partners in our department. 

Akeef: Why Linklaters? 

Linklaters stood out to me for many reasons. The main motivation to pick Linklaters was the plethora of practice areas I could be immersed in. The idea of sitting through eight seats, gaining a wide range of experiences before qualifying helped quantify my choice. Also, the prospect of working at an international law firm was very appealing to me, as I understood I would have the opportunity to work on international deals across many jurisdictions, allowing me to enhance my broader legal knowledge. 

There were many reasons why I picked Linklaters, but on top of the variety of work and experience available, it is the people that makes Linklaters so special. Friendly faces all around, the scope to grow and learn and better yourself personally as well as professionally, and the ability to work with the best lawyers, all make for an enjoyable experience to develop our skills. We have the opportunity to learn from and ask questions to all levels of solicitors, from partners to trainees. The values of the firm and its people, the approach taken to not just working but towards creating a conducive working environment is one of the standout features of Linklaters. 

Jeya: A Day in the Life 

A great thing about the Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme at Linklaters is that over your six years, you get a huge variety of experience throughout your seats. As an Apprentice in Investigations, my day usually consists of attending and taking a note of client meetings, drafting documents either for clients or internal ‘Know-how’, researching various interesting areas of law, politics and more, amongst other tasks.

There also opportunities for us to attend events, for example last November, my principal took me to the British Foreign Policy Group Thinktank event. And when Christmas hits, the office becomes a winter wonderland so for at least one day a year, there’s a chance to add ‘putting up the tinsel’ to your to-do list. Apprentices in other groups (e.g. corporate, banking, etc) do more contract focused work, but still with an element of research. An example of this could be researching whether a client can change their name, or various legal questions that arise during a deal. Finally, life as an Apprentice at Linklaters wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Silks – our food hall. Whether it’s to meet your mentor for coffee or get lunch with your colleagues from one of the several restaurants, Silks plays an integral role in the day-to-day life of an Apprentice as it’s a great way to catch up with colleagues in a relaxed and communal environment.

Annabel: Life Beyond the Desk 

When facing the decision between the apprenticeship and university route to qualification, I was particularly concerned about whether I could continue my extracurricular activities to the extent I would if I had followed the ‘traditional’ route of university. I needn’t have worried because I have been exposed to a huge variety of opportunities since starting at Linklaters last September. 

In my team, Litigation, I have enjoyed a variety of events, including lunchtime seminars, bi-weekly group meetings, and an ‘Away Day’ to Brighton. Another highlight for me was meeting Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister, on the topic of mediation of conflict, and I am now looking forward to travelling to Vienna this summer to network with members from across the global Litigation, Arbitration and Investigations group. 

I found the Social Mobility Network here at Linklaters to be a welcoming community, as the approach is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ for social mobility, and each individual reason for joining the network is not more or less valid than others. This shines through with the number of opportunities and events covering a broad range of topics, with people from all levels of seniority attending. Any ideas I’ve suggested have been welcomed with enthusiasm and support and I look forward to curating my own opportunities in the future. 

Looking forward

Choosing the Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme at Linklaters has given us the freedom to develop our skills, to challenge ourselves, and to work on cutting edge projects with likeminded, talented and motivated people. Our journey at Linklaters is just beginning and we can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!

If you’re looking for an alternative pathway to solicitor qualification in the UK, find out more about the Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme at Linklaters here: Solicitor Apprenticeships | Early Careers | UK Careers | Linklaters

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