1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Apprentice Legal Assistant The tasks of this job are not dissimilar to that of a paralegal. It involves chasing evidence, creating court bundles, talking to solicitors, and occasionally going to court. The team includes 4 paralegals, who equally split the work, often taking on the work of 2 solicitors (around 14 cases per person). The main responsibility is to keep all details confidential, and ensuring the names of those involved in the cases are kept private and confidential.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
At the end of the course, the qualification will be a level 2 in Business Admin. There are opportunities to undertake various courses, based on health and safety, data protection, and in the line of fire. The main bonus of this apprenticeship is the experience gained in a sector that requires a lot of hard work.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Whilst the job is enjoyable, there are too many responsibilities for someone who is unqualified. There is too much of a blame culture, placing it all on the person who does the job, even if they haven't been taught properly. The company appears to want someone cheap to do the work, who they can blame when things go wrong.
4. How valued do you feel by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council?
I feel my manager doesn't value me at all, but doesn't appreciate that if I don't do the work, it won't get done. She hasn't taught me how to do things, and will leave it to someone else, despite being responsible for me. The team are friendly, but I think they don't realise how much work I actually do.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
There was a lot of effort put in, until the probation period finished, (when I became locked into my contract), when they stopped putting as much effort in to helping me, and assumed I'd be able to work it out on my own.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The college I am doing the qualification with are extremely helpful, and my mentor is very nice. She is more than happy to help, and is assisting me in finishing early, so I can have a break before University. I am able to tell her things confidentially, and receive advise should I need it.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Whilst the overall manager is supportive, my manager often snaps at me, and makes sarcastic comments when I need help. She isn't cut out for helping an apprentice.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The pay could be better for the job I do, but I have enough to live, travel, save and spend.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are very few opportunities.
9. Would you recommend Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council to a friend?
In this job, there is no praise for taking initiative, but a lot of blame is placed if something is done wrong, despite not being taught how to do it. Despite not being paid overtime, or being given flexi-time, I am often expected to do more than 37.5 hours a week, and my manager doesn't appreciate that I start earlier than she does, so do not want to stay once I've done my hours.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council?
Always be careful. Make sure you aren't being used as a maternity cover, (like I am), and make sure all the terms of the job are set out. Don't be afraid to complain to the person who connected you to the company if you think you are being overworked.
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