Why apprenticeships beat university

Had you asked me six months ago, I would have told you that my legal career was already mapped out: A levels, followed by university, the LPC, and hopefully securing a training contract. However, that was before I undertook work experience at Riverview.

Riverview had been in the process of setting up its first legal apprenticeship scheme, which happily coincided with my arrival and the launch of the new CILEx Level 3 qualification.

Instantly, I just loved the work environment and saw a rewarding legal career without the need to spend six years studying and racking up debt. Instead, I am being paid and every day getting the type of work experience many trainees can only dream of.

I always thought taking the vocational route was something for students with average grades but now I’m proud to be proof that this is not the case.

There’s so much talk about how solicitors lack practical skills yet I already feel like I know so much about business, which will in time underpin my legal knowledge. That contrasts with many of my peers who are, at best, studying 2.5 days a week. I might be missing out on afternoon trips to the cinema but fast-forward six years and I am convinced I will have much more to offer than my contemporaries.

The first year of my apprenticeship is focused on business administration, which gives me an excellent grounding in all aspects of the business. The most satisfying thing is the amount of trust and responsibility I have been given. 

Not only have I been heavily involved with managing Riverview’s recruitment drive, but I’ve also been exposed to some of its clients. I have assisted in opening and closing matters for SME clients and most recently, because of a last-minute venue change, I had to manage moving a crucial FTSE100 client meeting to a different venue with just 1.5 hours to spare. I received great client feedback as a result.

Already in the three months that I have been a legal apprentice, I have developed as a person. I feel that many of my peers have only thought about the next two years as a means to an end, where I see my apprenticeship as a much more secure route. Not only will I be much better off financially, but career-wise too.

Anya McDonnell is a legal apprentice at Riverview Solicitors.