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Women in law: Administration apprentice to lawyer

View profile for Emma Rayner
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I first started working at Birkett Long when I was just 16 years old and aspired to be a legal secretary. I did not want to stay at sixth form or go to university so I knew I needed to enrol onto an apprenticeship scheme. The perfect opportunity came up when Birkett Long advertised for a Business Administration Apprentice in Basildon and once I got my foot in the door, the opportunities were endless.

I never joined Birkett Long thinking I could be a lawyer as I thought the only way of becoming one was with a degree. After successfully completing my apprenticeship, I became a trainee float secretary and on completing my training, I became a team assistant in the Divorce and Family team. Being in a law firm with 70% women I have always felt very empowered and I knew I wasn’t going to stop there. Well how do you progress further without a degree? The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. This course takes you through level 3 and level 6 exams, and on completion of a portfolio, you are a Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer. Could an administration apprentice who only had GCSEs progress to the level of lawyer? Absolutely! 

Four years on from joining Birkett Long, I am now one year into the four year course with Cilex Law School. I am now a paralegal in the Commercial Real Estate team and I have my own case load. My workload has changed from; photocopying, making tea and coffee for clients and organising the post, to now; having my own clients, producing legal documentation, submitting Stamp Duty Land Tax returns and more. 

The majority of the students I have met whilst studying have been women, and the majority of my colleagues are women, therefore I have always felt very empowered. Nevertheless, the men I work with have been extremely supportive and encouraging. I believe that we should not just celebrate the women, but also the men, as I would definitely not have got this far in law without both my female and male colleagues, but also my mum and dad. 

I am based in our Basildon office and can be contacted on 01268 824935 or emma.rayner@birkettlong.co.uk.

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