The CILEx route bridges the gap between dreaming about becoming a lawyer and actually living out that dream

When Ann Deavall left school she was told that she would make a good secretary. Thanks to studying with CILEx Law School she is instead a Fellow of CILEx and the first-ever person in her family to qualify as a lawyer. 

Why did you decide to progress your career by studying with CILEx Law School?  

I started my Level 3 studies at college in the late 90s. At that time, I was working as a legal secretary at a solicitors’ practice. After passing that stage I wanted to continue. Due to low numbers, the college was not running the subjects I wanted to do, so I looked to studying with CILEx Law School. 

I wasn’t sure whether I had the discipline to study from home without the structure of physical college attendance – but I’m really glad that I did. 

What was your most positive experience about studying with CILEx Law School? 

Predominantly, it was the flexibility it offered me. I could work at my own pace and being able to fit studying in around family life and work commitments was a godsend. 

Having a personal tutor meant I could access support and advice when I needed it. Feedback on work was always given promptly – this was really useful in helping me understand what the exam assessors would be looking for in a good answer. 

The study materials were set at the perfect level, not too high brow for me! There are extensive online resources and the Student Forum and revision days were invaluable. I struggled with Contract Law at Level 6 and failed the exam once. But after attending a revision day it made several areas clearer for me and I am certain it boosted my understanding to help me gain a pass on the second attempt. 

How have your studies helped your career?  

My studies with CILEx Law School have taken my career to a level I never dreamed I would achieve. When I left school after my O-levels, I was told I would make a good secretary, so I set the extent of my dreams at that level.  

I would never have anticipated that I could become a lawyer because the university route was definitely not for me: I simply didn’t have the background support from family, the funds or the opportunity to take time out of paid employment to study at university and have huge debts hanging around my neck. Training to become a lawyer through CILEx has opened up new doors for me – I could never have got to where I am now without it.  I’m the first person in my family to become a lawyer and, if my parents were still alive today, I’m sure they would be very proud. 

What is your role now? 

I am a Chartered Legal Executive in my firm’s private client department. It’s a far step from my first job as a junior legal secretary at a small high street solicitors’ practice more than 30 years ago!

I advise on, and prepare wills, handle applications for grants of probate and administer estates for clients.  I also prepare lasting powers of attorney and assist my supervising partner with high net-worth and contentious estates. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love the client interaction: building up a relationship with clients is a vital part of the role so, when drafting a will, I understand the family dynamics and what motivates people to structure their wills in the way they do, tailoring the best solution for their situation.   

Assisting people in times of mourning, helping them navigate through settling an estate of a deceased friend or relative and knowing I’ve lightened their load in some way is very satisfying. 

Why would you recommend distance-learning/studying with CILEx Law School to others?  

The flexibility offered by distance learning can make a difference between somebody just dreaming about becoming a lawyer and advancing their career, and actually living out that dream.   

Many people still think that university is the only way of becoming a lawyer and that a law degree is the only option – with a huge student loan inevitable. None of this is true and I would happily champion the route through CILEx and CILEx Law School any time. 

It would be nice if, one day, CILEx is not the “alternative” route to becoming a successful lawyer, but the mainstream route. This would allow CILEx members to gain the recognition they deserve.