Studying with CLS means I can become a lawyer despite not having a degree

Nicole Causey works as a Trainee Legal Executive with Irwin Mitchell’s Medical Negligence Team. Having completed her CILEx Level 6 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice she is a Graduate Member of CILEx. She now needs to do one more year of qualifying employment before applying to become a Fellow of CILEx which is the membership grade for a qualified Chartered Legal Executive lawyer.  

How have your studies helped your career to progress?

I was previously employed as a Paralegal. Studying with CILEx Law School (CLS) has allowed me to progress to a Trainee Legal Executive role, handling my own caseload (with supervision) in the Medical Negligence Team.

I now handle a varied caseload which includes claims involving major limb amputation, sepsis, pressure ulcers, surgical errors, orthopaedic injuries and fatal claims. I also assist other members of the team on complex birth injury and delay in diagnosis of cancer claims.

As well as dealing with complex legal work, our team also gets the opportunity to be involved with local charities and events which help to raise awareness of medical negligence issues. Several of my clients have been featured in the national press and recently I took part in two television interviews relating to World Sepsis Day.

What prompted your interest in pursuing a career in law and how did you get started?

I previously worked in insurance and, after returning from a year living overseas, I decided that law would be a good option for me to consider as I knew it would open up a number of different career options.

My first legal role was as a Claims Administrator, where I was an assistant to several fee earners. It was during this time that I learned more about what personal injury work involved and also how I heard about the possibility of a CILEx qualification, as I didn’t have a degree and had originally assumed this would rule out the option of becoming a lawyer.

I self-funded the first couple of years of my course and, as I gained experience, I progressed to a Paralegal role and learned more about case handling by assisting on cases. I later applied for a Medical Negligence Paralegal role at Irwin Mitchell, as I found the topic really interesting.

The firm was very supportive with my CILEx qualification and agreed to assist with the funding for the final part of my course with CILEx Law School. As I gained more and more experience of helping other members of the team with their cases, I gradually developed my own caseload.

Why did you decide to study with CILEx Law School and how have you found the experience?

I knew of a few other people that had studied with CLS before, but decided it was the right option for me because of the financial aspect – the ability to stagger my courses to spread out the cost was really important to me, as I began the course by self-funding.

What has been your most positive experience about studying with CLS, and which resources have you found most useful?

The flexibility is really helpful; when you are working full time in a busy law firm, it is really important to be able to structure studying around existing commitments. The best resource for me was being able to attend revision days – it was helpful to be able to speak about the course with other students sitting the same exam and also to pick up tips from tutors in person.

Why would you recommend distance-learning/studying with CLS to others?

I would, mostly due to the flexibility. Last year, my partner and I bought a house to renovate. Because of the way CLS works, I was able to balance doing both without it affecting my full-time job or holding back my progress.

What are your study and career intentions? Have they changed since you started your CILEx studies?

Now that I have completed my Level 6 Diploma, I intend to make an application for Fellowship next year to become a Chartered Legal Executive. I hope to stay in the same area of law I currently work in and build up my experience as a qualified lawyer.