Pursuing a new career path through an apprenticeship

Kimberly Dunning-Philp
Kimberly Dunning-Philp on 6th Feb 2023

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It’s National Apprenticeship Week and we’re spotlighting skills for life and career development opportunities through apprenticeships.

Kimberly Dunning-Philp joined our Leeds office as Office Manager in 2018 and became involved in a project to assist our legal team, which ignited her desire to pursue a legal career.

Ensuring our staff feel fulfilled in their careers is part of our ethos, so we have been supporting Kimberly as she retrains as a Paralegal in a new role as our Legal and Contracts Coordinator.

In the following Q&A, Kimberly shares why an apprenticeship has been such a great option for her career.

Kimberly Dunning-Philp

Studying: CILEX Paralegal Apprenticeship

Q1: What is your apprenticeship offering you in terms of career development and upskilling?

I began my apprenticeship later on in my career, having already worked in the industry for a few years. The paralegal apprenticeship has allowed me to change paths and immerse myself in a career change. Having never studied law before, this course is allowing me to study the course content alongside implementing this practically into my every day role, which in turn is contributing to my development and success within my new career path. I am currently undertaking the level 3 Paralegal apprenticeship but hoping to progress further on completion of this course.

This apprenticeship has allowed me to explore things from a different perspective. I am building on the skills I have already developed throughout my career

Q2: What skills for life have you gained?

This apprenticeship has allowed me to explore things from a different perspective. I am building on the skills I have already developed throughout my career to include teamwork, negotiation, organisation and attention to detail and approaching these from a new legal and regulatory perspective.

I am also developing new skills such as legal research which is completely new to me. The apprenticeship allows me to connect with like-minded individuals and explore scenarios from a different viewpoint, exercising and improving on communication skills and inadvertently confidence.

Q3: What are the benefits of taking an apprenticeship route to retrain, rather than full-time study options?

I wouldn’t have been in a position to leave employment to undertake full time study at this point in my life, having financial and life commitments, and the apprenticeship has therefore allowed me to undertake this within my full-time role to enable a career change!

We are also seeing the direct positive impact of my studies on my everyday role within the legal team. I can now actively contribute to internal legal discussions and suggest improvements to our approach from the knowledge and skills I have developed, and the areas I have been able to research, on my Paralegal apprenticeship.

The direct link between my course and working role gives me the motivation to succeed. It is rewarding to see how my influence is developing our processes and contributing towards achieving our mutual goals for the success of the business.

A few words from Joanne Shelston, Kimberly’s manager and Solicitor at Curtins

The structure of the course and the ability, to some extent, to tailor its content, has meant that the course subject-matter is often very relevant to the work Kimberly carries out day-to-day. The breadth of the material she is studying helps to provide wider clarity around, and a deeper understanding of, the technical legal aspects of the contracts. 

In turn, the work Kimberly undertakes as part of her role, reinforces her studies and helps her to see how the legal principles apply in practice, which means that she is getting a lot more out of the course than is often the case with full-time study. 

We have seen Kimberly’s legal knowledge grow rapidly during the course of her studies, not to mention her confidence in her approach to dealing with opponents in negotiating contracts!  

Part of the ambition of the legal team is the endless pursuit of improvement of the contractual terms we enter into. This is a constantly changing goal as the market reacts and adapts to changes in the law and in the construction and insurance industries. The course has allowed Kimberly to combine her skills in linguistics with technical legal principles, to enable us as a team to engage in discussions on how the contracts interact with the projects, on improving contract terms and to allow us to continue to progress our team’s purpose.

Pursuing a new career path through an apprenticeship

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