09 February 2024

Embarking on my legal career

Deciding to complete an apprenticeship instead of going to university can be a big decision for some. When I was applying for apprenticeships back in 2023, I remember thinking ‘’what if I don’t get in’’. I hadn’t applied for university, so an apprenticeship was really my only choice and with Burges Salmon being my number 1 choice, I really wanted to be successful. I can only imagine all those who are currently applying for the new cohort of apprentices feel a similar way.

One factor that reassured me throughout was the support from the People Team at Burges Salmon. Few people know this about me, but I have Autism and ADHD. I felt that this could hold me back in some of the tasks during the assessment centres and if I were successful, the actual apprenticeship. However, I decided to use my Autism and ADHD to my advantage. I offered up answers that had not been said before, I suggested different approaches to completing the group task and was totally honest with the firm in my interviews.

When I received the phone call saying that Burges Salmon where offering me a place, I didn’t really know what to say or do. I wasn’t expecting to have got through as there were so many amazing candidates! Although, one thing I took away from the whole process was that my Autism and ADHD wasn’t as much of a hindrance as I first thought. My best advice to anyone applying for an apprenticeship (or any other job), is to just be yourself. If you get asked a question in an interview that you don’t know the answer to, don’t make it up and give the interviewers what you think they want to hear, give the answer you honestly want to give.

I remember in my interview being asked ‘’where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time’’. The obvious answer was, ‘’if successful, 1 year away from qualifying as a Solicitor’’. Instead, I responded with ‘’I have no idea’’. I then continued to say that ‘’no one really knows where they are going to be in 5 years’ time, as so much can change between now and then’’. My point is, I quickly learned that Burges Salmon aren’t always looking for someone who is a straight A student, they also want someone who is personable, approachable and can work well in a team so don’t be afraid to show off these skills too!

I am currently sat in the Real Estate department and to say that it has been a learning curve is an understatement! For the first 8 months of your 1st seat, you sit with CST (the Client Support Team) and pick up the basics of how a department runs and the necessary skills you need to progress. The opportunities that I have been exposed to as a result have been amazing! From assisting on large energy projects, to helping with the transfers of properties, I have learnt so much already! Of course, there have been times that I haven’t known what I am doing and because of my Autism, there have been times when it has taken me a bit longer to learn how to do certain tasks. However, as time goes on, I’m starting to learn that people within the firm genuinely want to help you. Whether that is from a Trainee, a Senior Apprentice, or a Partner!

Further to this, by not going to university, many people feel that they are going to miss the social side. So far, this hasn’t been the case for me! From department wide social events, apprentice quiz nights, and of course the firms BSocial group, I have always found that there is something for everyone to get involved in (this is coming from someone who traditionally finds large social gatherings stressful ha-ha!)

So, if you are currently applying for an apprenticeship I wish you the best of luck, and hope that this article goes some way to providing an insight into the fun and supportive environment that is Burges Salmon.

This article was written by Legal Apprentice, Harry Keaveney.

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