Trainee solicitor, Leeds

I have always been interested in law,  but after achieving only three GCSEs I thought an A-level in law – and certainly a degree and career – was out of reach. As a result, I spent three years at college studying BTEC in travel and tourism alongside resitting GCSEs. 

Eve Gregory

My next step was Leeds Beckett University to study travel and tourism. At this point I wasn’t even aware that an apprenticeship was an option. I really enjoyed the university lifestyle and meeting new people but decided to leave after my first year. This was daunting and I was worried about the impact it would have on future career options so I took time to decide on next steps, making plans to travel. These plans, however, were quickly put on hold, as I was called up for jury service.  

During jury service I began talking to one of the clerks. She explained how her niece had just undertaken a legal apprenticeship. From there, I applied for an apprenticeship at BPP and, thankfully, secured my place at Gateley.

An apprenticeship felt like a great option. As someone not from a traditional academic background, it offered an accessible route into the industry.

I’m proud to say that I have passed every exam so far. This is down to the mix of classroom study and practical work, where I can immediately apply what I’ve learnt. The classes are always interactive, too, which is more suited to my learning style compared with traditional university lectures.

I discovered apprenticeships during the application season, with most firms’ applications already closed. I applied to as many as I could with the hope of an interview. Fortunately, I was invited to one at a firm in Manchester and one at Gateley Legal in Leeds. I was lucky to secure the role at Gateley and have not looked back since.

'An apprenticeship felt like a great option. As someone not from a traditional academic background, it offered an accessible route into the industry'

At Gateley Legal, apprentices begin by undertaking a paralegal course lasting two years, before moving on to the solicitor apprenticeship. This allows you to get a real feel of the firm and the apprenticeship scheme, before signing up to a five/six-year course.

During the paralegal apprenticeship and part of the solicitor apprenticeship, apprentices remain in the same multi-team department, mastering the skills of an experienced junior lawyer. In the final two years of the apprenticeship at Gateley Legal, you begin seat rotations as you would if you embarked on the traditional training contract route, moving departments every six months.

The apprenticeship consists of a four-day working week, with one day dedicated to university studies during which you have one or two lectures. There can be a lot of prep work to do, but ultimately you settle into the schedule and find a balance between studies and work life.

When I first started, I had the perception that it would be mostly administration work, but from an early stage I was given considerable responsibility. Within a year and a half, I was managing my own caseload. While interacting with clients may seem daunting at first, you soon pick it up and feel more confident.

My first seat has been with the restructuring team, specialising in all types of insolvency matter. I have assisted on several administrations, including fixed-charge receiverships and some personal insolvency matters, such as acting for a trustee in bankruptcy in suspending the automatic discharge of the bankrupt for non-compliance.

My highlight so far was accompanying a solicitor in the restructuring team and our instructed barrister for a creditor’s administration application of a company at court. We had a tough judge who brought to our attention an issue with service. We were given a very limited timescale to rectify the issue before the judge would even consider our case. We adjourned quickly to determine any relevant case law or legislation that could be relied upon, or anything we could do quickly to comply with the service requirements. We were able to establish grounds to enable the judge to proceed and later grant the order for the administration application. The experience made me excited for the future challenges in such a fast-paced career.