Choosing the CILEx route after an LLB – Sam Thompson, medical negligence specialist, Hudgell Solicitors

The drive for justice is behind my passion to excel and progress in the field of medical negligence. I had an inspirational lawyer already in my family, so my interest in the field began when I was a teenager.

I studied my law degree in London before coming back up to Hull in 2008. I took a fee earning position in a local personal injury law firm where I acquired a number of years of experience working on general personal injury matters and employers’ liability cases. It gave me a really good grounding for medical negligence and I naturally progressed into medical law.

A colleague at my previous firm introduced me to the CILEx route to qualifying as a lawyer. I always expected to take the conventional route but after learning there are other ways of qualifying I decided to explore them. CILEx was the most appropriate for me because I could work, earn and learn at the same time. This allowed me to continue to gain experience and develop my career.

As I already held a law degree, I was able to enrol on the Graduate Fast-track diploma offered by CILEx Law School. I completed my studies in three years, while working full time. It was a completely new experience. Although I am a studious person, I went to university where my learning was structured and managed. I started distance learning on the Graduate Fast-Track Diploma and soon realised I was responsible for structuring and managing my own vocational learning.

It was hard work but I enjoy studying. I studied at lunch time, evenings, often until late, and weekends. My firm has been so supportive, in particular my manager. Thankfully, CILEx Law School offer excellent guidance. A tutor was always reachable by email and assignment feedback was very thorough.

A period of work-based learning followed the completion of my GFTD and I had to evidence everything I had done, as well as documenting why, which was then approved by CILEx to attain my qualification. I was then admitted as a CILEx Fellow and joined my peers as a qualified Lawyer.

I now handle an array of complex medical negligence cases from inception through to trial were necessary. My qualification is recognised by my employers. I have always felt valued by my employer but qualifying has opened up new career development opportunities. This qualification is a really important rubber-stamp for me and my firm and it means I’m professionally regulated, so my clients can be confident in my abilities as a qualified Lawyer.

I hope to be recognised as a senior member of the clinical negligence team in due course. Eventually, long term, I would like to become a member of the judiciary when I am eligible, which will be in about 10 years.