This is Katie Hinton, valued member of our Compensation Department. She’s been talking about National Apprenticeship Week

Monday 12th February 2024

As part of National Apprentice Week, I would like to share my journey to becoming an Apprentice Solicitor at Waldrons Solicitors.

I am a career Paralegal. I have spent over 20 years working in law firms, representing thousands of Personal Injury Claimants and helping them to recover the compensation that they are entitled to.

My first job from leaving college where I studied law was as a receptionist at local high street firm.  I was quickly promoted to a legal secretary and completed a Higher Professional Diploma in Law with the Institute of Legal Executives.  I then became a trainee fee earner at a multi award winning law firm in Birmingham City Centre.

I spent 16 years working at this firm where I represented thousands of victims of road traffic accidents, I dealt with claims from beginning, throughout litigation and to successful settlement including Trials.  During this time I started my family.  Personal professional development was put on the back burner and the juggle of working mom life began. 

Following redundancy I went to a boutique firm in Birmingham who specialized in Claimant Personal Injury work and I expanded my area of knowledge from road traffic incidents to Employers Liability claims, Occupiers Liability claims, and Criminal Injury Compensation claims on behalf of victims of crimes of violence.  This firm merged with Waldrons where I continued to develop my caseload and began dealing with higher value and more complex cases.

Last year during my appraisal my supervisor asked me if I had the ambition to become a qualified Solicitor.  My answer was yes! I certainly have the ambition but do I have the time to study? I’m a busy working mom, together with my workload.  Am I too old to start studying? My 40th birthday was approaching and I had not studied for some considerable time, could I do it? 

My supervisor said ‘I have every confidence that you can do it and if you would like to do it then the opportunity is available’.  So with a mixture of excitement, nervousness, apprehension, but ultimately determination I began to look into the options available to be to become a qualified Solicitor.

My HR manager had some information from Damar Training on a Solicitors Apprenticeship which would take place alongside my current role for a period of three years.  I researched the criteria and was given the green light to go ahead.  I was assigned a learning coach, and set various tasks to demonstrate with samples of my own work and experience how I meet the competency standards set by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority to become a Solicitor.  This is alongside academic study of functional legal knowledge set out by BARBRI which is preparing me for the Solicitors Qualifying exam which I shall be taking early next year.

I am supported by Waldrons with time to complete the Apprenticeship, and supervision of my more senior colleagues, which all add valuable contributions towards my continued professional development.

I am 6 months into my apprenticeship and it is going well.  My extensive experience in legal practice has been invaluable so far and I am on track according to my Personal Learning Plan.  

I am so glad that I started this apprenticeship, and would certainly recommend it to any long term paralegals, particularly working parents like myself who have spent those years head down getting the job done without taking time for self promotion or development.  An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to gain a qualification alongside your day job.  I am making it happen, and so could you.  I am grateful for a supportive and encouraging employer so thank you Waldrons Solicitors.