A closer look at solicitor apprenticeships at Sintons

As National Apprenticeship Week 2024 continues to raise the profile of apprenticeships nationwide, we talk to Sintons’ Head of People Services, Gemma Hewitt, about the opportunities for people to complete a solicitor apprenticeship with Sintons.

What kind of law qualifications can people gain through an apprenticeship? Can you get the same qualifications as people studying at university?

You can. Our solicitor apprentices  gain a Level 7 qualification (with the option to achieve a LLB degree), and complete the Solicitor Qualifying Exams (SQEs), demonstrating their qualifying work experience.

Since we started our solicitor apprenticeship programme in 2017, we’ve had a 100% success rate, with every one of our apprentices qualifying. In fact, we recently celebrated the fact that Saffron Sinclair, who’s in the final year of her apprenticeship, achieved first class honours in her degree and some of the highest marks in her SQE1. And Nathan Johnson, who joined us as an apprentice in 2017 is now a fully qualified solicitor specialising in real estate.

What kind of training and experience do people gain during their apprenticeship?

It’s a six year programme and throughout that time our apprentices rotate between different teams. We’re a full service law firm so they get exposure to a lot of different aspects of law, from personal and family law to corporate, employment and real estate.

Alongside this, our apprentices spend 20% of their time in the classroom learning at Northumbria University. So it is demanding but it’s also a brilliant opportunity to work in a leading law firm, experience a range of types of work, and to determine what area they want to specialise in in the future.

Why do you think an apprenticeship is a good choice for someone wanting to get into law?

For many people, the benefits of an apprenticeship completely outweigh the traditional university route. You can gain a university qualification, get on-the-job experience and get paid at the same time, so you don’t have any debt at the end of the process.

And you don’t miss out on the social aspect of university either. At Sintons, our apprentices and trainees are a really tight-knit group who support each other, meet up regularly and socialise together.

What are the benefits to the business of recruiting via an apprenticeship scheme as well as through a more traditional graduate trainee programme?  

For us, it’s a great opportunity to open our doors to a wider range of people, including those who might not have considered the traditional university route.

It’s also about longevity. We can recruit and train people who get a great start to their career here, promote our apprenticeships to others, and also go on to work here once they’re qualified.

And our apprentices are very, very capable and high performing. They do a brilliant job and work alongside our qualified solicitors. We really value them and having them here is a benefit to us as well as them.

Both entries into Law give practical insights and are the building blocks of a great career, both our trainees and apprentices add value, provide a different approach. This is what makes our firm, everyone’s views are considered and leads to an excellent client service.

How often does Sintons recruit solicitor apprentices and do you offer apprenticeships in other roles as well?

We recruit each year and at the moment we have four people completing their apprenticeships to become solicitors: Faith Ramsay, Sophie Lemon, Sabrina Jackland and Saffron Sinclair. Some joined us straight after A Levels while others have already spent time in the workplace and took a different direction

We’ve just appointed a business administration apprentice, Kai Hoult and we’ve also previously recruited a digital marketing apprentice, Andrew White, who has now been appointed as marketing assistant. As a firm, we also support development opportunities by utilising apprenticeships where we can.

So, although our core focus is on solicitor apprentices, we also offer this route into other roles as well.

Sintons is currently recruiting for solicitor apprentices through the North East Solicitor Apprenticeship programme. The deadline for applications is 16 February 2024. Find out more and apply here.

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