An apprentice’s perspective: Polly Crimmins-Impey, Lewis McAuley-Jones and Nicholas Read

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with some of our apprentices, past and present, so that they can share their stories and experiences of their apprenticeship journeys at Kennedys.

Our award-winning UK legal apprenticeship programme, launched in 2012, sees us actively recruiting from schools and colleges, welcoming people to the firm from the age of 18. Partner Trevor Davies comments on the positive contribution apprentices make to Kennedys: “We have been delighted by the quality and enthusiasm of our apprentices. They make a fantastic contribution to the firm. It has been a pleasure to help them develop over time and to see their careers progress successfully within Kennedys.”

In the latest instalment of our apprentice interviews we spoke to Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) qualified lawyers Polly Crimmins-Impey and Lewis McAuley-Jones; and soon-to-be-qualified Nicholas Read.

Nicholas and Polly were part of Kennedys’ first cohort of apprentices when the award-winning scheme launched in 2012, Lewis joined the scheme a year later. Polly and Lewis became our first legal apprentices to qualify via CILEx last year, with Nicholas soon to join them.

Ask questions at every opportunity you get, as it’s a big decision to make.

Polly, an Associate (FCILEx) in our Manchester office, recalls why she decided to undertake an apprenticeship: “When I was sitting my A-Levels, there was an assumption that most people would go to university. I was required to go through the motions of completing my UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) form and applying to universities, however it was never really something that appealed to me. I was keen to start working.” Polly is now qualified as a Fellow of CILEx, but is continuing her studies with a view to applying to cross qualify as a Solicitor in the next few years.

Nicholas, a London-based Litigation Executive, finished his apprenticeship scheme with a ‘Level 6 Graduate Diploma in Law and Practice’ from CILEx. “Kennedys was one of the first city law firms to offer an apprenticeship programme. When I joined in 2012, there were no other serious alternatives if you wanted to undertake a legal apprenticeship. Kennedys was ahead of the pack and was offering a scheme that seemed a viable alternative to university. After interviewing here, seeing the London office and meeting some of the partners, choosing Kennedys was an easy decision to make,” adds Nicholas reflecting on why he chose a legal apprenticeship with Kennedys.

Touching on the opportunities his apprenticeship has presented him with, London-based Associate (FCILEx) Lewis says: “I have had countless opportunities throughout the apprenticeship. I have been fortunate enough to work from the other side of the world, in our New Zealand office, and to attend various events, including receptions at 10 Downing Street and the House of Commons. Even after qualifying recently, I still have that opportunity to continuously learn and develop my ideas and skills through communicating with other Kennedys professionals who are key and influential industry leaders.” 

The trio all shared similar views in terms of what they find challenging about their apprenticeships, as Nicholas comments: “It’s very rare that you have two matters that are identical. You’re constantly having to learn; whether it be new areas of the law, new approaches to take, new ways to manage people. You have to develop both personally and professionally to keep up. At times that can be stressful or exhausting, but I’m always amazed to look back at how far I’ve come.”

This year’s theme for National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Look Beyond’, encouraging parents, teachers, employers and young people to celebrate the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities. Polly, Lewis and Nick were asked whether their apprenticeship helped them to grow beyond their expectations.

Polly says: “When I started the apprenticeship, the scheme was very new and I did not have any real expectations about where it would lead me, however I did hope that I would qualify as a lawyer. I have now qualified through CILEx and I am working towards qualifying as a Solicitor, so I would say it has definitely helped me to grow beyond my expectations.” 

Commenting on his early career journey in law, Lewis says: “I have always strived to achieve more and continue to do so. There is no doubt that Kennedys and the apprenticeship scheme has helped me to achieve that. Although I am now qualified as a CILEx lawyer, the journey has not ended. Similar to Solicitors, CILEx lawyers are eligible to become a Partner of a firm, become Judges, be awarded Queen’s Counsel and set up their own firm. Wherever the future takes me, Kennedys’ apprenticeship has definitely opened countless doors allowing for limitless possibilities.”

Reflecting on his experience of the apprenticeship at Kennedys, Nicholas says: “The apprenticeship route surpassed my expectations at every stage. When I started it seven years ago, I never would have expected it to lead me to the position that I am in now.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone considering an apprenticeship, Nicholas encourages an inquisitive mind.

Last year at The School Leaver Awards, Kennedys won the ‘Best Degree Apprenticeship’ award and we are a former two-time winner of the ‘Top Employer in Law’ - at the same awards.

For more information about what it is like to work at Kennedys, click here.