Choosing CILEx instead of a law degree – Hayley Browne

I first got into law at the age of 18, when I got a job as an office junior with Wilkin Chapman LLP.

I had always had an interest in law but I wasn’t sure of the way forward and I knew that University wasn’t the right route for me at that time – the level of debt worried me and I was keen to get some hands on experience in practising law rather than just reading it.

I first heard about the CILEx route to qualification as a lawyer when I joined Wilkin Chapman LLP. The firm has supported many people through this qualification and I saw how it had boosted the careers of my colleagues.

I realised that in order to best prepare for the CILEx qualification and the commitment it requires, it would be beneficial to have A-levels and also to have some recent experience of study. I then attended at my local college full time for two years, studying Law, Psychology, Government and Politics and General Studies.

Having achieved four A Levels (AABB), I came back to Wilkin Chapman LLP as a Trainee Legal Executive in the debt recovery department and started studying for my CILEx exams at the age of 22. Over the four years I spent in the department I built up a substantial caseload of files.

When I completed my CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice I was offered the opportunity to join the firms Property Litigation Team, focusing on contentious matters and more in-depth legal argument and research. I have been in this role for a year now and although there is still a lot to learn, my confidence is growing by the day. I do find that studying for my CILEx Level 6 exams alongside this job has really helped, as I am taught how to do things in my work and my courses fill in the gaps as to why I do them!

I will have completed my CILEx Level 6 exams shortly and will be well on my way to qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive. Thanks to choosing to study by distance learning through CILEx Law School alongside my work, I have been able to progress my career while staying in my home area, near my Mum who is a single parent, and to help her with my brother who has special needs.

Generally I think that CILEx is a fantastic way to avoid debt, get a well respected and sought after qualification, and yet also get hands on legal experience in the workplace which gives you somewhat of an advantage over a traditional university degree. It has given me an opportunity which I would not have had otherwise, without university attendance. At the age of 26 I have my own home, am recently married.