Gowling WLG is celebrating the success of the firm's legal and business services apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week - proving apprenticeships work in 2018.
The 11th Government-led National Apprenticeship Week runs on 5 to 9 March 2018, with a theme 'Apprenticeships Work' - for individuals, employers, the community, and the wider economy.
The international law firm are joining employers and apprentices from across the UK in celebrating the success of apprenticeships, encouraging even more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career. Showing 'Apprenticeships Work' in 2018, Gowling WLG is marking the success of its apprentices during the week, with plans in place to continue to build on the breakthrough apprenticeship programme into 2019 and beyond.
Launched in 2015 when four legal apprentices joined the Real Estate team, the firm's apprentice scheme aims to create new routes into becoming a qualified lawyer, combining paid work experience with a professional qualification, and has three potential career routes: paralegal, legal executive or qualified solicitor.
In 2018, the programme is yielding success. The first Gowling WLG apprentices have since completed their Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services (former Paralegal Apprenticeship) and have continued onto the Chartered Legal Executive or Solicitor Apprenticeship programmes delivered in conjunction with CILEx Law School.
Continuing the expansion of the apprentice scheme, Gowling WLG affirmed their commitment to widening access to the legal profession this year, supporting the firm's ambition to be forward-thinking and innovative, providing a pool of talent which is reflective of our ever-changing and diverse client base.
Twenty-six apprentices joined the firm's apprenticeship training schemes in the last year, aimed at school and college leavers and those considering alternatives to university. Of this group, nineteen legal apprentices - the single largest group to begin the Paralegal Apprenticeship programme in the UK - are already making an impact across a number of teams in the firm's Birmingham and London offices, including; real estate, construction, banking & finance and dispute resolution.
Legal apprentice Millie Wozencroft said her role offers great diversity and enabled her to work on a variety of projects: "A common misconception of apprentices is that we do tea runs or spend the whole day at the printer - this is definitely not the case at Gowling WLG. As an apprentice I have developed my skillset, particularly my communication, time-management and teamwork skills. I have also gained a lot of confidence and independence."
Megan Cooling said the vocational nature of a legal apprenticeship was particularly appealing over other routes to practice: "A great advantage of an apprenticeship is that they take a more practical approach to learning, you gain more hands-on experience, applying your skills immediately. I knew I wanted a career in law and knew the Gowling WLG apprenticeship was for me. The firm made the transition from college to working very easy, I've never felt nervous to ask any questions and everyone is happy to help. Completing an apprenticeship at Gowling WLG has helped me build my knowledge and skills on a daily basis; it has given me greater responsibility and exposure to the professional world - all whilst working towards a nationally recognised qualification."
During their training, Gowling WLG apprentices will work independently and as part of a team alongside some of the world's biggest companies, learning from some of the best legal minds in their field, helping them to hone skills by undertaking real work that's important to the success of the firm and its clients.
Legal apprentice Abbie Brown said: "I have gained so much knowledge and insight to the legal profession but more importantly what it's like actually being a legal professional. Being surrounded by so many great solicitors provides me inspiration of what I want to aspire to in the future and what kind of solicitor I hope to one day be. After my 2 year apprenticeship I hope to progress to the 6 year part time solicitor apprenticeship."
Further developing on the commitment to opening new opportunities in 2018 and beyond, seven apprentices were recruited to Business Services departments in the firm's Birmingham office as part of a one-year apprenticeship scheme aimed at developing talent in areas of finance, marketing and communications and human resources among others.
Trainees spend six months with two different Gowling WLG teams, where they will also study for a Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration with an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accreditation, run in conjunction with Birmingham Metropolitan College.
Business Services apprentice Jake Hendon, who is currently working in the firm's Finance department as a purchase ledger, said: "I prefer a hands-on approach so thought an apprenticeship would suit me. I did think about university but I decided that I wanted to get out into the world of work as soon as possible and start a career. I specifically chose the Gowling WLG Business Services apprenticeship because it gave me options as to what departments I'd like to spend my time in. There are many reasons why the Gowling WLG apprentice is great, but the stand out thing that makes working here an invaluable experience is the constant support I get from my colleagues. They genuinely care about my personal development and they all try and to push me to be the best I can be."
Zack Staples, a Business Services apprentice currently working in a corporate communications role with the firm's Business Development department, said the prospect of earning whilst learning was appealing in light of the rise in higher education tuition fees: "I wasn't interested in spending thousands of pounds on a degree with the possibility of being no better off after graduation. So I knew that an apprenticeship was for me and that I wanted to challenge myself and start working right away."
With plans for greater expansion of its apprenticeship programme, the international law firm are planning more legal apprentice recruitment towards the end of the year, and wider plans to increase the number of business service apprentices across the organisation follow the schemes initial success.
Chairman of Gowling WLG Andrew Witts said: "For Gowling WLG, apprenticeships are an excellent way of recruiting and developing diverse talent. As Chairman of the firm and as a parent too, I take particular pride knowing that every student who starts their career with us will gain hands-on, practical experience in a nurturing and supportive environment."
Gowling WLG's HR Director Chris Oglethorpe, said: "The experience we have had with our current apprentices and with CILEx Law School over the past two years has proved to us that apprenticeships are an excellent way of recruiting and training new talent. While we are already convinced of the benefits of apprenticeships as a recruitment tool, an added incentive for expanding the scheme was that we are keen to apply our apprenticeship levy payments to good effect. Additionally, we are keen to open up opportunities to people who may have been put off paying university tuition fees."
Jenny Pelling, Director of Business and Apprenticeships at CILEx Law School, said: "Gowling WLG is proof of this year's National Apprenticeship Week theme of 'Apprenticeships Work'. They have offered development opportunities for the first successful cohort and brought in the single largest group of paralegal apprentices with us in September 2017. It's a pleasure to work with an employer so committed to the growth and success of legal apprenticeships."
Find out more about Gowling WLG's apprenticeship opportunities