National Apprenticeship Week 2021 – Ailsa Kirk’s Story

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As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, Ailsa Kirk, Paralegal in WSP Solicitors Commercial Property Team reflects on her time as an apprentice and how it has shaped her career to date.

“During my school years, when faced with career and university events, I felt overwhelmed and at lost with what path I should take, and how best to utilise my skills. Despite knowing deep down that the traditional university route was not for me, I wrongly assumed that attending university was the only way to forge a career in law. However, by the time that the deadline for university applications was fast approaching, I still had no idea what my prospects looked like. At the time, I was increasingly frustrated by the fact that I didn’t know what to do – looking back, this was a blessing in disguise.

Once I had completed my A-Level exams at 18, I began looking for a job to tide me over and to fill a gap until I could ascertain what to study at university. After a mixture of hours of scrolling the internet and good luck, I stumbled upon a job advert for a legal apprentice required within a local law firm. After reading the description, I knew this was the answer to my confusion. After a simple application process and interview, I was offered the role of a legal apprentice within the civil litigation department of a local firm. I was provided with on the job training and support whilst also learning the knowledge side of the subject. I soon realised that this was why university had never appealed to me, I was simply just desperate to be in the work place and learning for myself rather than stuck in a stuffy lecture hall!

Although my apprenticeship still required me to study hard and undertake exams, I felt far more confident in doing so as I could relate the knowledge back to a practical understanding of the Law. It also helped me to stay motivated as I had professional rewards and career progression each time I completed exams and assessments.

After a while at my first firm, I felt it was time to progress and I was able to transfer my apprenticeship to WSP Solicitors. Both WSP and the apprenticeship provider were incredibly supportive and the process was pain free on both sides. In November 2020, I undertook my last exam and assessment for my apprenticeship and then found out in December that I had successfully completed the apprenticeship. It was hugely rewarding to have completed it, especially as I had the added benefit that I felt prepared in a practical sense as well as the knowledge. This meant that I felt confident in applying what I had learnt, to my role at WSP Solicitors.

Since completing the apprenticeship, I have been able to further my studies at WSP whilst also achieving career progression against the backdrop of their remarkable support and encouragement. Undertaking an apprenticeship was truly the best decision I have made in my career and I would 100% recommend everyone who has an interest in law to consider it as an option.”

For more information on apprenticeships you can visit the government website here:


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