Did you know you can become a fully qualified solicitor without having to fund university yourself or compete for a training contract? Below we interview Sophia De Lucia who is a current CMS Solicitor Apprentice. The CMS Apprenticeship is a six-year, fully funded and paid position where you will earn while you learn, gaining valuable experience from day one with no university fees to pay.
Sophia, tell us a little about you.
My name is Sophia and I’m a third-year solicitor apprentice currently siting in the Real Estate Transactions department in London. I joined CMS straight from sixth form, having completed A levels in English, History and Religious Studies. When I’m not busy working or studying I enjoy socialising with my friends, travelling to new places and doing lots of cooking (and eating!).
You’re on the Solicitor Apprenticeship Scheme at CMS, could you tell us a little about it? (How long it is, what you study and where etc.)
The Solicitor Apprentiship is a six-year programme comprising of 80% on-the-job training and 20% off-the-job studying. The on-the-job training relates to the work I complete for CMS and as part of the programme I am able to work in different departments every year. Regarding the off-the-job study, I am currently studying for an LL.B(Hons) in Legal Practice and Skills at the University of Law and upon completing this I will go on to sit both SQE1 and SQE2. A key feature of the degree is that it is completely virtual and so all learning materials are accessed via an online platform. As part of my degree, I submit weekly assignments and also sit final assessments at the end of each module.
How did you know an apprenticeship was right for you over a training contract
I really value the practical nature of apprenticeships, and I knew that by taking this route I would be able to gain far more work experience than if I had chosen to take up my University place. Moreover, one of the benefits to the apprentiship is that the ‘training contract’ is built into the programme and so I do not have to face the competitive task of securing a ‘training contract’ post university. Furthermore, as an apprentice I am able to ‘earn whilst I learn’ and am not faced with any student debt which has made the route to qualification far more accessible.
Why did you choose CMS?
I chose to complete my apprentiship with CMS as I was impressed by the number of practice groups and the amount of cross-sector work which would be available to me. As someone who had not previously studied law, I was keen to work at a firm which offered a wide variety of departments so that I could find an area that was of most interest to me. I was also drawn to CMS because of its international presence, as well as its commitment to promoting both diversity and inclusion.
What has surprised you most about your apprenticeship so far?
The biggest surprise has been the breadth of work that I have been able to get involved with. Prior to starting on the apprentiship I had a narrow idea of the sorts of tasks that I thought I may get given; however, I was quickly surprised by the range of work and the number of opportunities available to me. Recently, I worked on a matter that required me to conduct some legal research and I really enjoyed getting to write up my findings and ultimately deliver these to the client myself.
When was a time you felt valued by CMS?
I felt particularly valued by CMS when I was asked to represent the firm at a speaking engagement for International Women’s Day 2020. As part of the event, I was on a panel with fellow colleagues and client representatives where we discussed equality and widening access within the legal industry. I was very pleased to have been a part of this important and ongoing conversation and overall, I felt that my contribution to the day was thoroughly valued.
What office are you based in and how do you find it?
I am based at the London office, although because of Covid I have been working remotely full time since March 2020. I found the change to remote working to be very seamless as at CMS we had already been provided with a Surface Pro which had made home working a possibility even before the pandemic. However, in the coming months I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues in person again and embracing a more hybrid working arrangement.
You can find our more about the CMS Solicitor Apprenticeship and apply here: https://www.cmsearlytalent.com/programmes/solicitor-apprenticeships/