Meet Toby, a Solicitor Apprentice

Toby Ellis

Solicitor Apprentice

Womble Bond Dickinson

Why did you decide on a career in law?

The main reason I was attracted to a career in law was the diverse areas of work. Even in the same sector work is extremely varied with a natural amount of pressure, something which I personally need in order to work at my best. Beyond this, the nature of the sector is that it is naturally evolving, with new technologies a key part of the work. This means not only the work, but the way the work is carried out evolves constantly.

What attracted you to the firm?

When looking for firms who offered a solicitor apprenticeship Womble Bond Dickinson stood out as an incredibly early adopter of the scheme. While this has the obvious benefit of the firm being more experienced at training and looking after apprentices than almost any other firm in the country, it also showed both a commitment to opening law as a career and to modernisation in the sector more generally. The accolades of the firm speak for themselves but it was this commitment to progression that stood out even before I walked through the doors for the first time.

What was the application process like?

Intense, but positive. The process is set up so that regardless of how far you get you will walk away with new skills and having learned a lot about the realities of the legal sector. It truly feels like an opportunity in itself to be able to partake in the process, especially the 3 day work experience which even in isolation is a fantastic opportunity that I would urge anyone thinking of a career in law to take

What’s a typical day like as a trainee solicitor/apprentice and what does your training contract involve?

As cliché as it is, it is hard to say what the "typical day" is. As a first year apprentice I have two team meetings per week and a catch-up with my supervisor. Aside from this the majority of my time in the property team is spent running searches and reviewing leases, though this ebbs and flows with new work being added consistently. Variety really is the word to describe the work flow, even on the most "average" day

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

My favourite part of my job is seeing matters progress. There is an inherent satisfaction in seeing something you worked on 6 months ago complete, even at the junior level where your time on each matter is significantly less than a more senior fee earners would be. However, you are often involved in every stage of the process in some capacity or another so seeing the progression of each matter happens naturally

What are the challenges?

Initially the biggest challenge, especially coming out of A-Levels, is the environment. Everyone, from the partners down, is treated the same and are genuinely valued. Especially as a junior there is a lot of trust placed on you from the outset which can be quite daunting. For me, organisation has always been something I have struggled with and something I have had to work hard to improve on as it is absolutely a key skill in this kind of work. That being said there is ample guidance on all kinds of skills from the firm should you need it, something which I have used to improve exponentially faster than would have been possible otherwise

There are a lot of stereotypes about working in law, can you debunk a myth?

The most pervasive, and potentially harmful, myth about working in law is the stereotypes around lawyers themselves; Short haired men in expensive suits and an underbelly of ruthless competition between them. Not only is this wholly untrue but it is also discouraged. Legal work is, inherently, team focused. Every member of each team is essential to the pr

What are your career ambitions?

In terms of career ambitions of course my major focus is on passing the law LLB and then the SQE from there. Aside from these qualifications I want to ensure I keep an open mind in the workplace and take on a variety of work to find out what kind of area would suits me for the next step of my career after qualifying

Why should future trainees/apprentices consider applying to the firm?

I would recommend anyone considering a career in law to apply for the apprenticeship at Womble Bond Dickinson. The opportunities afforded by heading straight into the workplace and the unmatched experience to be gained from it are invaluable. The firm do everything possible to support apprentices through the course, both in work and in university, and foster an atmosphere incredibly conducive to learning. There really isn’t a better option and, as mentioned before, the application process itself is very beneficial

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