Chartered legal executive apprenticeships have to undertake a high level qualification at the same time as managing heavy workloads. With all of these demands on their time, it can be easy for apprentices to neglect making regular journal entries but in this article, Damar legal coach, Marc Webber explains how this simple practice enables apprentices to get the most out of their apprenticeship, save time and become better leaders.
Getting the Most from your Coach
Review visits are important and apprentices need to maximise the benefits they get from this time with their coach. They are an opportunity to discuss recent examples of work they’ve been doing and how they match to the apprenticeship outcomes. I often find that apprentices who don’t make regular journal entries spend up to half of their review visit trying to remember what work they’ve been doing over the previous weeks and months or having to look back through emails and case files. With apprentices who have made regular journal entries, we can jump straight into our discussion and not waste any time. I recommend apprentices make a journal entry in their OneFile account every two weeks.
Creating Good Habits
One of the reasons that some chartered legal executive apprentices don’t see value in making regular journal entries from the very start of their apprenticeship is that they won’t be able to use these early entries to build evidence for their portfolio.
However, my experience is that apprentices who do not make regular journal entries from the start find it much more difficult to get into this habit when they do get to the point where they can, and should be, building their portfolio. Making a commitment to undertake this activity from the start allows the apprentice to move seamlessly into the next phase of their programme, without having to change their habits or find additional time.
Building a Portfolio
Once apprentices are in the portfolio-building phase of their apprenticeship, journal entries provide a fantastic resource. Whilst the portfolio build happens in the graduate year, the evidence used can be up to two years old. Apprentices do not have to trace back through case notes or try to remember – all they need to do is look through their journal entries and pick out the best example which matches the outcome for their portfolio.
Even if a good example has occurred too early in the apprenticeship to be included, I find that it can help the apprentice to think of similar examples in their more recent experience.
Keeping Momentum Going
Regular journal entries are also a great way for apprentices to keep momentum going. There are times during the apprenticeship which are less intense and apprentices can lose focus, become disengaged with the programme and fall behind. We have seen that apprentices who journal regularly are more likely to stay engaged and stay on track.
Engaging in Reflective Thinking
Part of the evidence logs that apprentices produce for their portfolios requires them to reflect on their experiences – not just what they did and how they did it, but also why they did it and what they learnt from the experience. Apprentices who make regular journal entries from the start of their programme have already been engaging in this type of thinking for several years, both independently and in discussions with their coach during review visits, and therefore find this much easier to complete in a meaningful way.
Becoming a Leader
Self-awareness is often cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop. For ambitious apprentices, who want to be the future leaders of legal teams and firms, reflective thinking is a critical skill to have. And there is no better place to start practicing and refining this skill than in journal entries, supported by discussions with your coach.
If you are one of our current apprentices and want to understand how you can be getting more out of your journal entries and review visits, speak to your coach who will be more than happy to provide you with some further guidance.
If you are an employer and want to find out how you can maximise the benefits that chartered legal executive apprenticeships could bring to your business, get in touch today to speak to one of our dedicated account managers.