By RoxanneB 01 Mar 2022 5 min read

How I became a solicitor apprentice at Womble Bond Dickinson

Introducing Rachel

Rachel Clarke is a fourth year solicitor apprentice at Womble Bond Dickinson based in the Newcastle office. Rachel kindly shared her path to a legal career, what it’s like to work at a transatlantic law firm and career advice for aspiring legal professionals. 


My path to a legal career 

During school I found law extremely interesting, this spurred me on to seek a variety of legal work experience. I was fortunate to secure multiple work experience placements, one of those being at Womble Bond Dickinson.

This experience confirmed my desire to pursue a career as a solicitor. On the back of this I took the decision not to stay at my school for sixth form as they did not offer Law at A-Level, I decided to go to Newcastle Sixth Form College where I studied Law, English Language and Sociology. 

After finishing my A-Levels in 2018, I went on to study Law at Northumbria University. During my first year of university I applied for the Solicitor Apprenticeship and subsequently joined WBD as a Solicitor Apprentice in September 2019.

The apprenticeship was my preferred route into law as I loved the idea of being able to earn while you learn and gain the valuable experience of working with live clients in the workplace.

Another reason I chose the apprenticeship route was the opportunity to obtain the same law degree qualification with no student debt but with a wealth of experience coming from working in the firm for 6 years.

I am currently in the Restructuring and Insolvency team and due to begin my trainee seat rotation this coming September. This year I am also due to graduate with my undergraduate in Law and begin the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) in September and I will qualify as a solicitor in 2024!


What it’s like to work at Womble Bond Dickinson 

One thing I particularly love about working at Womble Bond Dickinson is the excellent mentoring and wealth of support they provide. WBD places a large emphasis on career progression and supporting junior members of staff, this is something I have felt I have really benefited from throughout my apprenticeship.

The strong supportive culture coupled with fantastic mentors has resulted in me growing both professionally and generally as a person, my confidence and ability has dramatically increased since beginning my apprenticeship. 

Here at WBD we have a very interesting wide range of clients which makes every day different and never boring! In addition to the interesting work, WBD offers a range of social activities such as yoga, netball, football and many more.

We regularly have team social events and also firm wide social events and not to forget we have a fantastic Christmas party!

Womble Bond Dickinson are a great firm to work for as they have a constant focus on improving mental health and wellbeing with many workshops and events held to promote good mental health and providing all employees with wellbeing days.

WBD is also a very diverse and inclusive firm which makes it a great firm to work for.



A day in the life of a solicitor apprentice

At Womble Bond Dickinson we have a hybrid working policy, meaning some days I work from home and some days I work from the office. While in my role every day can look very different here is an example of some of the things I get up to on an average day: 

  • 8:00am – commute to the office, I drive into the office and I love spending my journey listening to a podcast or audio book

  • 8:45am – I head to the canteen for some breakfast, I usually opt for porridge with honey or toast and of course a coffee to start the day. I also pop into the kitchen to fill my water bottle (recently I have been trying to make a conscious effort to drink more water throughout the day – it's not off to the best start but I am working on it!)

  • 9:00am – I log onto my computer, check and respond to any urgent emails and create my to-do list for the day. I also use this time to complete any small admin tasks. 

  • 9:30am – I begin working through my to-do list, here is an idea of some of the things do in the Restructuring and Insolvency team: drafting witness statements, filing a claim at court, document reference tasks, creating correspondence bundles, preparing trail bundles, drafting letters, updating clients with any developments in a case, instructing and communicating with counsel, legal research, corresponding with the court and attending hearings. 

  • 12:00pm – lunch time! I usually go for a walk at lunchtime with a fellow Solicitor Apprentice and grab a bite to eat. Our office is based on the Quayside in Newcastle and is particularly lovely when the sun is shining (unfortunately this is not very often).

  • 1:00pm – back at my desk and I continue to work through my to-do list. I am often asked to undertake legal research tasks which could include researching a change in the law or reviewing the courts' decisions on a specific area of law. 

  • 2:00pm – tea break! Myself and my supervisor usually head into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and stretch our legs. WBD encourages taking short breaks away from the screen and to get up and move away from our desks. 

  • 2:10pm – I continue working through my tasks for the day, ensuring I prioritise the most urgent tasks and sometimes re-evaluate my to-do list if anything new has come in.

  • 3:00pm – training session. I regularly attend training sessions to develop my skills and legal knowledge. I make notes during the training which are often later included in my Apprenticeship portfolio.

  • 4:00pm – catch-up with my supervisor, I have regular catch-ups with my supervisor where we look at my portfolio and compare this to the Statement of Solicitor Competence. We then formulate a plan of action to enable me to tick off more competencies and discuss anything new I could get involved in.

  • 4:30pm – after our catch-up I spend some time looking at my portfolio, updating my progression table and recording any goals we have set. As part of my apprenticeship I am required to hit all of the competencies outlined in the Statement of Solicitor Competence, therefore it is essential to adequately track my progress and review this at regular intervals throughout my apprenticeship.

  • 4:50pm – I review my to-do list and move anything that I did not get done to tomorrow's to-do list. I also finish recording and release my time for the day.

  • 5:00pm – home time! I begin my commute home, again usually listening to a podcast or audio book. Sometimes after work I head to the supermarket to do the weekly shop or I meet up with friends for a catch-up.

  • 6:00pm – I usually arrive home around 6:00pm-6:30pm and I always get a lovely warm welcome from my two dogs who are always very excited to head to the beach for their evening walk. 

  • 7:15pm – I make dinner while relaxing and watching some Netflix. 

  • 8:00pm – I sometimes catch-up with any university work, this could be anything from listening to recorded lectures, making notes, reading, preparing for any upcoming seminars and around exam time, lots and LOTS of revision!

  • 10:00pm – I always finish the day by reading a few chapters of my book before heading to sleep.


3 Tips for aspiring legal professionals: 

  1. My first tip for anyone looking for a career in the legal sector would be to be yourself! I'm sure you will have heard many people say but it is truly the best piece of advice I can give you. Throughout interviews and assessment centres try to allow you personality to shine through, the recruiters want to see you and your personality. 

  2. Secondly, when it comes to job searching and interviewing, definitely research the firm you are applying for. As much as you need to be the right candidate for the firm, the firm needs to be right for you. When doing your research into various firms I suggest looking at the firm's values and ensuring these align with yours. Depending on you and your values you may be looking for what charity work the firm is involved in or whether they are environmentally conscious etc. 

  3. My third tip for anyone who is doing an apprenticeship or balancing studying while working is to be super organised. Make sure you organise your time to allow yourself sufficient time to study, it is important to have a plan of what you will be doing before you start your study period. Also, keeping all of your university work organised and in one place makes studying and revision much easier.


Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash