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student experiences

student experiences

Ruth Metelerkamp

Trainee solicitor with Clarke Willmott, SQE and O shaped Skills student at the College

I’m Ruth, and I’m a trainee solicitor with Clarke Willmott, who recently passed SQE1 and is studying for SQE2. I have worked at Clarke Wilmott for 3.5 years as a paralegal, and more recently a trainee solicitor, in their Court of Protection team and I’m aiming to qualify by the end of 2024.

The first module that I took with The College of Legal Practice, was their ‘O Shaped Skills’ module. The firm had a number of trainees who took this module around our full-time trainee roles. I think the course could be really helpful for other junior lawyers who are looking for an upskilling course to fit around their work.


What is the O shaped Skills module?

Law is a competitive, multi-skilled career. While we all know that the SQE is the key to unlocking a brilliant profession, in a fast-paced, challenging career, many of us miss out on opportunities to develop softer skills (relational, commercial, and organisational ) as well as more practical, industry-focused knowledge. The O Shaped Skills module bridges that gap, helping us to develop as lawyers who are ‘client-led’ and ‘people-focused.


Reflections on the module

There were a lot of elements I enjoyed about the course. There was a real focus on documenting skills progress through training logs, which I felt helped me reflect on what I’ve learned and how I can apply this to my practice. In our coursework, we were asked to always refer back to examples from our own work, which helped me spot times when I had or hadn’t used a particular skill. This kept things practical and relevant to my work right now, even when the course itself was teaching about more abstract skill sets.

The course also kept things modern, with reference to current legal technologies and the increasing instances of lawyers offering business-focused advice. It felt up-to-date and relevant to a solicitor’s training in 2023. Teachings around growth mindset were also a helpful addition to the course content, especially when applied to the challenges you are likely to face when completing an intense course like the SQE1. It has made me feel more confident in my future abilities as a solicitor, as I have the soft skills needed to stand out and excel with my clients.

I also really liked the feedback process - we worked on a cycle of completing set work, then discussing it with personal tutors and getting feedback. I actually had the same personal supervisor for my SQE1 and my O Shaped Skills course, so I found that really good for my personal development.


Moving on to other modules and the SQE

I’d say the most notable experience for me was the law firm economics module, which covered teaching on technical areas such as how the profitability of a law practice is measured. It stood out to me because it was very focused on the legal sector and the practicalities of working within it, not just the law knowledge itself. It’s something you don’t necessarily learn in practice, especially as a trainee, so it gave me a more holistic understanding of my place within the firm. It also gave me the context I need to see where my career trajectory will go, as well as the confidence that I’ll get there. Personally, I enjoyed it over the soft skills covered in the course as it gave me hands-on practical knowledge which I could see myself applying immediately.

I studied for SQE1 over 20 weeks in 2023, and passed the July SQE1 exam. I found the course helpful and supportive and particularly appreciated the 1-2-1 sessions with my supervisor, Sajida, as she was very encouraging and reassuring.

This case study was written 19/04/2024.

“I enjoyed the law firm economics module which looked at how the profitability of a law practice is measured. It’s something you don’t necessarily learn in practice…I enjoyed the technical side of it.” - Ruth Metelerkamp O Shaped Skills and SQE student