Pathway For Potential – Apprentice Carves “Unexpected” Law Career With Nelsons

A Paralegal from our Court of Protection team has described how her apprenticeship helped her to realise her passion for law and carve out a career path she didn’t think was possible.

National Apprenticeship Week
Chelsea backpacking in New Zealand

As part of National Apprenticeship Week (February 6 – 13), Chelsea-Ann Read has shared her story, celebrating the positive impact of this educational route and highlighting the opportunities available.

Chelsea became one of our first Apprentices after starting the Cilex Level 3 Paralegal Trailblazer Apprenticeship in 2020 when a year of backpacking on the other side of the world sparked an unexpected interest in law.

To support her travels, Chelsea took a role at the Criminal Records Unit at the Ministry of Justice in New Zealand. On her return to the UK, this experience inspired her to look at opportunities in the legal sector and eventually apply for the apprenticeship role with us.

Chelsea said:

“I never thought a career in law was possible having not been to university – even when I applied, I was surprised to be invited in for the assessment day. Being told that I had been successful was a real turning point – from trying my hand at fruit picking, working in a chip shop and working in a bar, I was now at the start of my legal career.”

The two-year apprenticeship incorporated time within a department – in Chelsea’s case this was our Court of Protection team – with one day a week set aside for study with a Cilex tutor, as well as a monthly webinar.

Becoming immersed within our team and its cases allowed Chelsea to get on-the-job experience, speaking to law professionals regularly as well as sitting in on meetings such as Will-signings.

Chelsea added:

“As well as regular tasks to complete throughout the course, I had to build a portfolio of work to demonstrate what I had done at the firm. The course culminated in two written exams and an interview with the assessor, which I felt well prepared for thanks to the insight I had gained in the office.”

National Apprenticeship Week
Chelsea at the 2022 National Paralegal Awards

After being put forward by her tutor, Chelsea was a finalist at the Best Paralegal Apprentice of the Year at the 2022 National Paralegal Awards. Upon completion of her apprenticeship, her success continued becoming a permanent Paralegal with us.

Chelsea added:

“I have found a profession that I’m passionate about; the apprenticeship really was the best combination of both job experience and studying.

“I never thought I would be where I am and had these experiences. As well as being nominated for the award, which was a huge highlight, I was also invited to talk about my journey at a Cilex event. I am now looking to gain the Level 6 chartered legal executive qualification through a bridging course, so I am excited to see what the future holds.”

Lindsey Harrison-Grimes, Partner and our Director of People and Culture, said:

“It’s brilliant to see Chelsea’s achievements since she started at Nelsons – she is testament to how valuable apprenticeships can be both to the individual and businesses.

“Social mobility is one of our key priorities and we’re keen to make law careers more accessible. Opening our doors to apprentices not only gives more people the chance to work in law, but it also widens the talent pool when it comes to recruiting. Not everyone takes the university route, and we don’t want to miss out on any potential talent by only looking at graduates.

“Legal apprenticeships also help to promote diversity and inclusion in our teams. We can teach the skills, but it’s about finding individuals with the right attributes that embody the Nelsons culture in the first instance.

“Without a close influence such as family or friends, legal careers may not be considered – but options such as apprenticeships can hopefully change this. We are currently looking into the solicitor apprenticeship, which would be an exciting next step for us.”

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