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Derby paralegal Sammi proves you’re never too old to be an apprentice


A Derby paralegal who took on an apprenticeship at the same time as her daughter is now aiming for her dream job – and says no-one should ever let age get in their way.

Sammi Allen, who works in the family department at Smith Partnership, in Friar Gate, has just completed her Level 3 apprenticeship through CILEX Law School after taking it on in 2022.

The 37-year-old first joined the firm in 2019, working as an administration assistant in the business development department to earn money to raise her three children, Lupita, 19, Lotti, 13 and 11-year-old Landon.

Sammi Allen, a paralegal at Smith Partnership, says you’re never too old to be an apprentice after she completed her apprenticeship at the same time as her daughter

During COVID she was asked to help Smith Partnership’s wills and probate department deal with a huge increase in inquiries, as people across the city and county rushed to make life arrangements in the shadow of the pandemic.

Sammi did such a good job that Claire Twells, a partner in the firm, suggested she should apply for a legal apprenticeship and aim to climb the ranks.

This she did, balancing her work and study with family commitments, finally finishing her apprenticeship in October 2023 – a few months ahead of Lupita, who is currently studying her own apprenticeship on her way to becoming an accountant.

Having gained a position as paralegal in Smith Partnership’s family department, where she assists with all aspects of family law, including divorce, finance and private children matters, Sammi is now looking forward to taking on the Level 6 Legal Executive Apprenticeship, which is the equivalent of a degree.

This in turn could pave the way to further qualifications and the chance to qualify as a solicitor.

Sammi said: “I’d previously worked in bars and done promotions work until the business development job at Smith Partnership came up and while I enjoyed the work, I never thought I would do anything beyond that.

“Then COVID came and changed my role and Claire said I should study an apprenticeship. I said I was too old, but she pointed out that I still had 25 years of my working life left and that she believed that I could do it.

“She was right! I quip that I’m the granny of the apprentices, but I learned very quickly that my age doesn’t matter. Although most apprentices are younger, I wasn’t the oldest person on my course and I think my age helped me to be disciplined with my study.

“It’s a brilliant option for anyone because you earn as you learn. As someone who supports their family, I wouldn’t want to build up a huge debt by going to university at my age, so this was a perfect way forward.

“I’m really grateful to Claire and Smith Partnership as without their encouragement and support I wouldn’t be on this journey to a successful and rewarding career. It’s a total coincidence that Lupita is doing an apprenticeship too, and I’d recommend them to anyone.”

Claire Twells said: “Sammi is a hard worker and her loyalty to the firm has been unfaltering. I saw a potential in Sammi that she didn’t see in herself.

“When Sammi joined us she was a single mum. I knew she was organised and that hard work and having to think on her feet did not faze her.

“Now, seeing Sammi flourish in the family team is one of my proudest things to witness.”

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This story was written and shared on behalf of Smith Partnership by Simon Burch. Can we share your news and get you in the headlines too? Find out how we can help by getting in touch.

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