Studying alongside raising a family – Natalie Hickton

I embarked upon my career path in law firstly by going to college and completing my A Levels. I left college with an A in Law, B in Psychology and C in Business Studies. At this point I knew that Law was where my passion was and the career path I wished to take.

I always knew the university route was not for me and I wanted to start work within a practice to study professionally whilst gaining experience. As such, I started by working as a legal secretary in a small law firm. Shortly after joining the firm I became pregnant with my son, who is now 5.

When I returned to work 9 months after my son was born I joined the family law team at Swain & Co LLP as a legal assistant. Here I was able to build on my knowledge whilst gaining invaluable experience of working within a busy law firm.

I later moved to help out in their busy prison law and criminal appeals team. I knew Swain & Co were keen to help staff progress and encouraged further training and development within the firm and I therefore enquired with them about beginning my CILEx course.

I researched the most appropriate options and CILEX Law School seemed the best one. They offered a distance learning route which would enable me to continue to work full time, spend time with my family and study in the evenings and weekends in my spare time.

CILEX Law School’s online support is fantastic, they publish past papers along with study exercises and mock exams which you can send off for marking by your tutor. The turnaround time is very quick and the comments left by the tutors are very helpful. In addition to all the resources available I attempt to attend as many revision sessions, which also enables you to have a face to face tutoring session prior to sitting your exam.

I have recently received the last of my Level 3 exam results and have completed this with five distinctions, one merit and one pass. I feel I have been able to achieve these results with the support from CILEX law school and their tutors together with the support and encouragement from my employers.

I will be embarking on Level 6 shortly and my employers are recognising my abilities by allowing me to undertake more responsibility with more fee earner work and gain the necessary work experience required to become a Fellow of CILEX.

I would recommend the distance learning route through CILEX Law School to anybody wishing to undertake professional law training. Whilst it is hard work and you have to be committed to it, the invaluable support you receive is fantastic and without this route it would have been a lot harder for me to progress in my career. I therefore feel anybody with the determination would succeed choosing this option.