Kurtis Windrow has recently completed a higher apprenticeship in legal services with Forster Dean. He hopes to progress to a solicitor apprenticeship.
What led you to enrol on an apprenticeship?
A career as a lawyer has always been my goal. It may sound cliché, but the idea of having transferrable qualifications and experience in a career sector such as law, was very appealing to me when considering my career. In researching how I would reach that goal, I found the legal apprenticeship scheme. Initially, it was the cost which deterred me from proceeding down the university route and led me to look at other pathways. A contributing factor was having seen people leave university, only to be told they didn’t have enough experience to obtain a job, let alone a training contract. I thought to myself “why not gain the experience first?”. In addition to this, I felt that the apprenticeship scheme seemed like a great development opportunity, a platform where I could gain valuable practical experience in a legal environment and continue my legal education.
What did your role as an apprentice entail?
Being an apprentice is a varied role which presents many opportunities. Now currently a Paralegal at 20, I progressed through many roles during my time as an apprentice. I started as an Office Junior at 16, working my way up to Legal Assistant, Department Manager and Fee Earner. In each of my roles I had various responsibilities, becoming more dependable as I worked my way up. My progression allowed me to undertake work exceeding expectations of someone at my age. Work undertaken ranged from taking client instructions, drafting court documents and bundles, to running client meetings, negotiating with third parties and eventually running my own caseload.
What have you enjoyed most about your apprenticeship?
Honing my craft. I truly believe that I have gained a real sense of what is expected in any workplace and how different life is when you leave full time education. The skills and knowledge I have gained through experiences and practical situations during my apprenticeship has carved a mindset and understanding of the type of lawyer I want to be. It is enjoyable to now say that I have a goal, I’m sure of it, and I know how I want to get there.
How do you think the training has helped with your future aspirations?
As previously mentioned, I believe the training I have received and experience I have gained have placed me in a strong position to achieve my career goals. The transferability of skills I have gained: time management, attention to detail, people skills and teamwork to name a few, are all of which can be applied to any business environment. Coupled with the ability to continue studies in my own time, this creates a perfect environment for me to thrive as an aspiring solicitor.
What has been a personal highlight of your apprenticeship?
There was a moment during my apprenticeship where I felt like a ‘real’ solicitor. I proactively sought out the advice of a director on the various approaches that could be employed to benefit my client’s case which was within an area of law I was not too familiar with. Having understood the information explained to me, the process and how it worked, I was confident in my approach when negotiating with a third party. I provided them with an ultimatum which would eventually determine the successful outcome of the case, ultimately achieving the client’s desired result. This has been my personal highlight to date, and one of those ‘feel good’ moments.
Have you got any advice for school leavers looking for the right career path?
My advice would be to not worry about standing out from the crowd and taking a different path to everyone else, because it might just be the right one for you. Apprenticeships may not be considered the normal path. This is especially true for the legal sector; However, people’s perceptions of apprenticeships are changing, especially with the introduction of the Solicitor Apprenticeship. Lastly, if you decide to take an apprenticeship, be prepared for a demanding but rewarding experience. It is difficult to balance full time work and study with other commitments, but when you come out of the other side, it will all be worth it.
Jennifer Mayne, Kurtis’ Damar trainer comments:
“Kurtis really hit the ground running and had no problems passing any of his exams. The most impressive of his achievements was being the first student in the country to sit and pass specialised personal injury and employers/public liability exams. Over the same period of time, Kurtis has also been studying towards additional legal exams making his achievements even more remarkable. Kurtis has worked extremely hard, progressing in his career over the course of the apprenticeship and he deserves recognition for all of his hard work and determination”.