Case study

Solicitor apprentice — Emily Boothman

Emily studied a Level 3 CILEx apprenticeship with Manchester Metropolitan University before progressing onto a Level 7 solicitor apprenticeship with BPP and HCC Solicitors

Why did you decide on a career in law?

When I was 11 years old I wanted to be a judge because I was bossy, loved any crime show and loved following rules.

As part of a big family, law always appealed to me as I knew I was good in a debate. For this reason I wanted to go into litigation/contentious law as I am also extremely competitive.

My mother was also involved in a fatal road collision, so it means a lot to me to be able to give a good experience to others involved in similar circumstances. It was these accumulating factors that led me to pursue law.

Why did you opt for the solicitor apprenticeship route?

Firstly, I didn't have the confidence in my academic ability to go through university, despite achieving B's at A-level.

Secondly, I didn't think a university lifestyle would suit my needs and I didn't believe it would suit me as an individual. I thought it would be easy at university to get carried away with the social life and not focus on my studies.

Another factor that appealed to me was being paid a proper wage at the age of 20. All my peers were living on a part time wage or student loan.

Finally, I knew that I gained more from hands-on experience. I personally wanted to move away from the norm and not follow the expected route, despite being told that I would be a failure for not going to university at 18. I knew on principle I wanted to prove that person wrong.

My first CILEx apprenticeship started in 2015 with MMU and lasted two years. I applied for this via the website. The solicitor apprenticeship wasn’t available at the time. When this course came to an end, I enquired with local apprenticeship providers regarding my next options. I knew I wanted to be a qualified solicitor, and to have knowledge and experience in all areas of law so I held meetings with providers with the support of my employer and chose BPP. The solicitor apprenticeship lasts six years and I am in year five, due to start my Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) preparation in September 2022.

You’re due to qualify via the SQE. This is a relatively new pathway. What will it involve?

Prior to commencing the SQE, BPP must be satisfied that I am sufficiently prepared to sit these exams by formally assessing an extensive portfolio, which deals with every element of the Solicitor Competencies as outlined by the SRA.

I start my SQE prep in September 2022. The first stage will involve weekly lectures re-capping our legal topics and our legal practice topics (e.g. criminal law and criminal litigation, company law and business legal practice). This will lead me to SQE 1 in January 2023 where I will sit two three-hour exams over two days. These exams contain 180 multiple-choice questions and cover all topics including civil, criminal, company, EU, human rights, etc. and each question can be a different topic. Once I have passed SQE 1, I will be allowed to sit SQE 2. SQE 2 involves 14 practical assessments covering legal drafting, advocacy, legal advice, interviewing skills etc. We are due to sit this in April 2023.

What's a typical day like as a solicitor apprentice?

On Sunday evening I start my lecture preparation as Monday is my study day. I either have one or two two-hour lectures. During the lectures we have interactive sessions where we ask questions, answer polls, deal with scenario type questions etc. Following, we have consolidation work and dependent on the time I finish I start next week's prep.

Tuesday to Friday I work normal working hours, which are very busy as I miss a working day every week. A normal working day involves a lot of emails, drafting court documents, liaising with clients, barristers, experts, colleagues and defendants, dealing with court deadlines, engaging in conferences and other meetings and managing one member of our team.

How did you settle on your particular area of law?

I chose this area of law as I love dealing with people and in serious injury, you're with your client's for between two and five years on average. Although this can be longer dependant on the complexity of the case and the age of your client.

I also chose this for personal reasons. My family had a bad experience with the legal system on the passing of my mother and I see this as my opportunity to ensure that doesn't happen to other families.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Winning an argument.

What are the challenges?

Fighting not to take the work home and relax out of hours.

What three qualities are important in a solicitor?

  • Resilience
  • Confidence
  • Organisational abilities.

What are your career ambitions?

  • firstly to qualify as a solicitor
  • further qualifications in mediation/higher rights of audience
  • entering the judiciary to improve the underrepresentation of young women, and solicitors on the bench.

What advice can you give to others considering a solicitor apprenticeship?

Make friends, say yes to every opportunity and remember the legal circle is much smaller than you think.

Don't work in an area of law you don’t find genuinely interesting because it's a long time to do something boring or work somewhere just because of the name of the firm. There is more to a company than the wage and the company name.

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