February 4, 2019
While a career in law was once considered to be out of reach for many young people – and particularly those for whom going to university was not an option – the creation of a solicitor apprenticeship scheme in the region has truly opened up the profession.
Since its foundation in 2017, the North East Solicitor Apprenticeship (NESA) programme has created a new world of opportunity for people aged 18 and over, who partake in a six-year apprenticeship, which results in qualification as a solicitor. They also have the added benefits along the way of on-the-job training and being paid.
Law firm Sintons, a founder member of the NESA consortium, has taken on three solicitor apprentices over the past two years, all of whom are making strong progress. They are office based for four days a week, with one study day for their academic work, and are receiving mentoring and supervision from some of the best lawyers in the North of England.
Leah Greenwell and Nathan Johnson both joined Newcastle-based Sintons in 2017 after completing their A-levels and immediately became part of nationally-renowned specialist teams.
Leah joined Sintons’ insurance litigation team and Nathan went into the neurotrauma department.
Saffron Sinclair joined Sintons last year having already graduated from university, but decided she wanted to go into law and an apprenticeship was the best option for her. She has joined the firm’s fast-growing rural and agricultural team.
Leah, Nathan and Saffron agree their experience has exceeded their expectations.
Nathan says: “I chose the apprenticeship route because of a culmination of avoiding debt, gaining practical experience working in a law firm while studying, and guaranteed qualification as a solicitor at the end of the scheme.
“By the time I am qualified, I will have six years of experience, which will allow me to hit the ground running and be better equipped upon qualification to be the best lawyer I can be.”
Saffron agrees. “The theory of law is different from practice so the work experience is rich and will be helpful as it puts me in better stead when I qualify.
“I am working on some very significant projects alongside my supervisor and being given more responsibility than I originally thought I would.”
All three apprentices have been assigned dedicated mentors and supervisors, as well as being supported by their departments and Sintons’ dedicated training team, and are delighted with the levels of support they are receiving.
Leah says: “Despite the challenges of the apprenticeship and managing your studies on top of your work, Sintons is supporting us in every possible way.
“I would encourage anyone with an interest in pursuing a career in law to apply for such an amazing opportunity.”
Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, says: “In becoming a founder member of NESA, we were mindful of the need to make the profession more accessible to young people, and to support the development of outstanding legal talent in the region for the future. Leah and Nathan have both been with us now for over a year and they have done exceptionally well; their dedication and positive attitude is a real credit to them. Saffron has been another excellent addition to Sintons and is already showing signs of great promise.
“We are very proud to be a supporter of apprenticeships and delighted to offer these opportunities to young people in the North East.”