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Reflections of an Apprentice Paralegal

After a competitive application process, I was delighted to find out I had been offered the opportunity to become an Apprentice Paralegal for Pinsent Masons in the Financial Regulation Team. An extremely eager, excited me accepted and couldn’t wait to start my career and meet my team.

Initially, it dawned on me that I was growing up – I would no longer have a 6 week summer holiday, would have to fund my own social life and was “finally entering the real world” (as my mum would say). When I told her about these concerns seeking some loving motherly advice, she simply told me to “get used to it” and that was it. Although this was such a huge change for me, everyone nonetheless made me feel so comfortable and welcomed me into what would effectively become my second home…

My first commuter experience was… well, horrible to be quite honest (and it is still something I haven’t quite grasped 4 months later, although I do now know where to stand on the platform to be able to actually get on the train), but I suppose it made everything seem so much more real and part of the experience. However, I didn’t realise beforehand that traveling on the tube in ‘rush hour’ meant no talking, smiling, laughing, eye contact or any kind of communication whatsoever… but 4 months later, I understand why and am now a proud member of the angry commuters club!

Stepping into a whole new way of life can be so hard, especially coming from the safety comfort blanket that is school and into a big city like London, which wasn’t easy to adjust to. Walking into Pinsent Masons I felt nervous at first but after meeting with the other apprentices and being introduced to my Supervisors I felt instantly at ease. One thing I couldn’t quite get used to in my first couple of weeks is how you do not operate the lifts from the inside – this becomes a problem when you use other lifts outside of work and stand there waiting for the lift to move without pressing a button. Apparently, people find this quite annoying…

London Paralegal and Account Apprentice Intake 2017

In all seriousness, the culture at Pinsent Masons is so friendly and open – approachable, bold and connected could not be more appropriate for the firm and I couldn’t be happier to be part of a company that encourages these qualities within their employees. The firm feels so much more like a community as opposed to a workplace – everyone is so willing to help you and show you how things operate. There is a real sense of cooperation within the working environment – the open floor plan really allows everyone to share their work, ideas and allows varied delegation of work. Something I struggled to understand was that there is never a silly question. Truth is, something that I was curious to know was something that other trainees and apprentices also wanted to know, so never be afraid to ask for help if you are unsure. Within my first 3 weeks, I was already involved with Mentoring at a local London school, where I help year 6’s with their maths (although most of the time it feels like they’re helping me!). This is such a rewarding programme and makes such a difference for the children, who also really appreciate it.

So, why did I do an apprenticeship? I liked the idea of learning workplace values and receiving good mentoring from professionals who have experienced the business and how it works. I find it really useful to be able to put things I have learned into practice and improve on the work I have produced through regular feedback and guidance. Entering a new environment with lots of people was most certainly daunting, but I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing, interesting people that have become good friends and who I thoroughly enjoy working with.

At first, I was really afraid of networking and attending social events, but after meeting my team and realising how friendly everyone was, I felt welcomed and had nothing to worry about. My advice as a new apprentice would be to be you and to get involved with any opportunity that comes along. Most importantly, enjoy the experience and make the most of the incredibly intelligent, interesting people around you as there’s so much to learn!

Aya is an Apprentice Paralegal in our London office – to find out more about the Apprentice Programmes Pinsent Masons run click here

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