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Chloe is based in our Norwich office and is one of Mills & Reeve's apprentice solicitors. She talks about her journey towards qualifying.
Like many 17 year olds studying academic subjects at sixth form, I followed the route of applying to universities, getting offers and preparing a checklist of kitchen items to take away with me. During sixth form I studied law, geography, history and French. I applied to study law at 4 different universities and received offers from them all…but then a month after receiving my offers I decided I no longer wanted to attend, I suddenly had no desire or motivation to go. I remember telling my parents, who were quite disappointed with the change of heart and tried their best to encourage me that it was a brilliant idea to go. Being the 17 year old that I was, I searched long and hard online to see whether there was an alternative route for me to become a lawyer without having to move away. This is when I came across the apprenticeship. After applications, telephone interviews and assessment days, I was offered a paralegal apprenticeship in Cambridge at a national law firm. I accepted the position and worked for a year with them as a paralegal apprentice before applying for a transfer over to Mills & Reeve. Here I am five years later on the solicitor apprenticeship route.
My key tip that I tell many students is to, ‘listen to yourself’! I remember so many people telling me that I’d made a mistake by not going away to university and that I’d miss out on so many opportunities, but I can honestly say that I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. As an apprentice, you’re offered different opportunities to those of university, but really take advantage of these. Make the most of being offered an opportunity to go to a client dinner, or a trial at the High Court. You’ll still enjoy them and still learn from them. I was offered an opportunity to go on a client secondment and remember being so nervous to change my title to senior claims adjuster for 7 months. Now I see it as one of my career highlights to date - I had such a fun time!
My other top tip is ‘believe in yourself’! If you want something, and you’re happy to work hard, you will get there, but things take time. Its tough, but that’s what makes you stand out!
This was a hard one! As I say above, its tough. At times, I’ve cried; it’s not always as pretty as it sounds, but I still wouldn’t change the route I chose! After studying for so long, you soon adapt and find a study method that suits you. I always take my study day on a Monday, and then work around that. Sometimes, I have to study every evening and all weekend, but then other times, I only study on that Monday. It completely depends on you, how fast you learn, whether you enjoy the module and whether the sun is shining outside! I suffer from complete study guilt so if I haven’t done enough that week, the guilt kicks in and I find myself studying more than I probably need to. It’s all about balance!
I don’t think it has been affected too much. Obviously, there are occasions (especially exam time) that you have to say no to people, but I still manage to fit in time to walk my dog, go for drinks with friends and sail with Ben (my other half) It’s important to keep these things in the diary! I always add plans to my work calendar because then I treat it as something I have to do and you’ll feel better for going/doing it.
This was the hardest question to answer, but also the easiest question. I wanted to work here because when you leave for the day, you always have a story to tell, you have always been to school and you always smile. The culture here is incredible! Before I started working in a law firm, I was terrified of the chance that I may have to sit ‘next to a partner’! That sounds ridiculous, but when you’re 18 walking into this fast paced office, it feels terrifying. I now choose to sit next to the partner in our team most days! There’s nothing to be scared of. I have, after 5 years, still not come across someone in this office that I wouldn’t be happy to sit next to. Everyone is supportive, everyone wants to help each other and people always ask if you are ok! It goes beyond just work, people care and that’s why I love it!
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