Choosing CILEx instead of a law degree – Kerry Critchlow

I completed my work experience at Cooper Sons Hartley and Williams assisting their receptionist for two weeks whilst I was in year 10 at secondary school. I returned to Cooper Sons every summer after to cover reception until they offered me a full time post as a legal secretary.

During this time, I attended sixth form and had studied for A Levels in Science, Psychology and Drama. I also attained a Diploma in Hairdressing after studying my A Levels during a “break” so to speak to decide whether to enrol on a course with a university or find a full time job.

I heard about the CILEx route because a solicitor at my work qualified through this route. After working with Coopers for six months I asked my employers if they would sponsor me and they agreed to pay for my fees. I started studying for my CILEx exams when I was 20.

When first enrolling with CILEx I worked in a bar two/three nights per week alongside working full time at Coopers, and studying for my CILEx exams by distance learning. This has now been reduced to one/two nights per week. In hindsight, I am so glad that I chose to study with CILEx. I can earn money whilst completing my studies and also get an insight into different areas of work. Had I attended university I would not have had such “hands on” experience. Studying with CILEx is not to be taken lightly, it is hard work and you have to be committed to your studies. However, it is only a few years of my life and once I have completed my studies I will be qualified and the hard work will be worth it.

I definitely would recommend the CILEx route to others. It fits in comfortably around my work and family commitments. I am lucky enough to have all my fees paid for me, I am gaining a career for life and will not be lumbered with debt at the end of it. I think it is a great alternative to attending University where there is such fierce competition to get training contracts.