Solicitor Ruth Winter and her apprentice Leandra Rocca
WHILE her school friends are planning years at university accruing huge debts, legal assistant Leandra Rocca is already earning.
Leandra finished her A levels at AG6 in Rawtenstall this month, but had already secured an internship at Winter Solicitors, in King Street, Bacup working alongside owner Ruth Winter.
Ruth said: “When Leandra came for interview there was something of me that I saw in her. She was so calm and had a confidence about her. She knew what she was talking about.”
Leandra, 20, left home at 16 and was living in supported housing through Rawtenstall charity the M3 Project. M3 helped her to secure a tenancy on a flat with Green Vale Homes when she was just 18.
After failing her first choice of A levels, she realised she wanted to pursue a career in law and returned to the sixth form aged 18 to study psychology, law, sociology and an extended project.
She said: “I was lucky to get a job with Ruth in August and so when I went for my results and found I had passed, I already was earning and had my apprenticeship.
“I never wanted to go to university, although other people wanted me to go, I realise that exams are not for me, I prefer to learn by practically doing the job and so the apprenticeship is exactly right.
“I am the person I am today because of what I have been through. I had to grow up very quickly. I never thought I would be in that situation, I thought I would be the last person to move out of home but it has helped me to prepare for life.
“When my friends leave university with their degrees and debts, I will already have the experience and qualifications and be working in a law firm. They will only just be starting out.”
Leandra is currently on a business and administration apprenticeship with legal modules and the next step will be legal executive course next year, which she can then build on to acquire a solicitor’s qualification.
Ruth said: “There are different routes into the legal profession now. You do not just have to go down the route I did and get a degree.
“In fact, I had six people apply for the apprenticeship job who had law degrees, but you can’t be an apprentice with a degree. They were all seeking practical experience, Leandra will already have experience by the time she qualifies so will be in a better position.”
Ruth, has three children and her older daughter Danielle, 20, is also working towards her legal executive qualifications in a solicitor’s in Burnley.
She set up her own practice Winter Solicitors this year, specialising in personal injury claims, having worked as a solicitor since 2001.