We've spent some time talking to Charlie Hayward, who's currently doing a trailblazer solicitor apprenticeship and is expecting to graduate in 2021.

Charlie works as an Assistant Litigation Executive & Solicitor Apprentice in the Serious Injury Department with Fletchers Solicitors while studying for his solicitors' qualifications with Damar, University of Law. We spent some time with him to find out more about his apprenticeship.

What made you choose this Apprenticeship, Charlie?

There was a combination of factors which led me to choose this apprenticeship. Initially, I was drawn in by the company - Fletchers Solicitors are a local company, and I knew of their great reputation. After researching further and after attending a training day, it was clear that they were a brilliant firm to work for. Other than this, the solicitor's qualification that I will achieve through the scheme was a strongly influencing factor, as this is something which a university degree does not offer. I have always been set on becoming a solicitor and seeing that this scheme could get me there quickly, and without any associated costs, it was a no brainer.

When you were first thinking about your next step in education, what options were you considering?

Initially, I didn't consider any other options than University. I had an unconditional place at Lancaster University to study law, had applied for student finance, arranged accommodation viewings - basically I was dead set on going.

I only started to consider an apprenticeship around Easter time before I finished college, when I saw an advert for a law apprenticeship in the local paper.

What made you decide on studying an Apprenticeship over the other options available to you?

Once I had looked into the apprenticeship, the benefits were undeniable. My goal is to become a solicitor, and the scheme with Fletchers guarantees this - unlike university. If I were to go down the university route, I would have to take my solicitors exams after graduating, and the process would end up taking much more time. Plus, choosing an apprenticeship meant that I avoided £52,000 debt and could get work experience whilst studying.

How likely would you be to recommend an apprenticeship or traineeship?

I would wholeheartedly recommend an apprenticeship, particularly if you're certain of the career that you'd like to take. There are some really great options that can fast-track you into the role you want, without the costs.

What were your career aspirations before starting? Have they changed since starting?

Before starting my apprenticeship, I was inspired to become a solicitor after watching 'Suits' and intended to go into corporate law. However, since working at Fletchers my career aspirations have changed - I am now more interested in specialising in an area of law such as serious injury or crime. I like that these areas of law are more people-oriented and focus on how lives are impacted by mistreatment.

What do you do day-to-day at work?

In my current stage of the apprenticeship scheme, I'm an assistant to a solicitor. A typical day for me could involve taking witness statements, making medical calls, and generally working closely with the solicitor above me. Working one on one with this solicitor means I really learn a lot, and I can thoroughly get involved in every element of a case.

What is your level of responsibility?

Running a full caseload in conjunction with a solicitor on a daily basis up to the value of £250,000.00.

Would you say it is helping build your career?

It's certainly helping to further my career - particularly in comparison to where I would be if I had pursued a university degree. I will qualify as a solicitor in 2021 with 5+ year's experience in my field. In comparison, my peers who have just graduated with law degrees may struggle to get accepted onto a solicitor's qualification, or even to get a job. Many people I know that have already graduated are working in restaurants.

Are you enjoying your apprenticeship?

Yes, I'm really enjoying my apprenticeship. I have been able to work in different areas of the business over the years, and no two days are the same, so it never gets boring.

How about the training?

The training has been great - since starting I have had different roles in order to work my way through the company and experience different things. I started in the Patient Claim Line call centre for a year, then worked as a paralegal, a team assistant and now I'm an Assistant Litigation Executive. In terms of study, I attend university one day a week, which is also really insightful.

Do you have any top tips or words of wisdom for someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship? /

Don't dismiss the idea of an apprenticeship due to any preconceptions. I used to associate apprenticeships with more practical subjects than law and wouldn't have considered one if it wasn't for the encouragement from a family member. However, an apprenticeship has got me further in my career than a university degree would have - and faster! Make sure to look into the qualifications you get as part of the scheme, the fees, and the company offering the apprenticeship and make your decision from there.

Apprenticeships Law