Gemma is in her second year of her two-year Legal Apprenticeship with the RNLI.
I‘m interested in law, and I liked the sound of the apprenticeship route, but I thought law was something you had to go to university for. I took a gap year after my A levels and had six months in Canada visiting my family and travelling around, and I applied for law at university and got accepted into all five universities I applied for. When I came back to the UK, I was looking for a job and I wanted to see if there were any legal apprenticeships I could go for. Then I found this one at the RNLI. I wasn’t keen on university because I didn’t want the huge student debt. For me, an apprenticeship was a better option as you’re not just going to seminars but actually working within law, learning from the solicitors and earning money whilst you’re doing it. I chose the RNLI because I like that I am actually working towards something, rather than just to make money for a company. I’m really proud to say I work for the RNLI.
I studied Government and Politics, English, and IT for my A levels. One of the units was on government structure, judges and courts, which was something I’d covered in my A-level Government and Politics classes, so this knowledge from my A-levels put me a little bit further ahead in my apprenticeship.
Every day of my apprenticeship is different. I start at 8am and generally finish at 4:30pm. It involves writing advice notes and conducting legal research, my line manager gives me cases to work on, and I go to meetings with him and help him, and I work quite closely with the HR team as well. I’m starting to work on cases alone within the organisation now too, which is pretty scary! My line manager will also book in time to teach me a topic, such as redundancies or something like that. It’s not a very cheery topic, but it’s an important one to know in case you ever need that knowledge. I also get half days on Mondays and Thursdays to get on with my college work. All my college work is done online, and is mainly taught through webinars. Occasionally I have to go to Bristol for exams and courses, and my assessor comes down to see how I’m getting on.
The best thing about my apprenticeship is getting to learn from the solicitors, as they all have really interesting backgrounds and have worked in different types of law firms and organisations. Being able to learn from their varied expertise is really helpful.
To anyone wanting to go for an apprenticeship, even if you don’t think you’re going to get it, go for it! Don’t doubt yourself, because if you don’t try for it you don’t know and you’re not losing anything by going for it.
I found it was really useful to have a bit of a basic knowledge of law before I started, just knowing a few of the fundamentals was helpful as it meant I found it a bit easier to start learning things and building on that knowledge. So I’d recommend learning a few basics to make it a bit easier when you start.