Using CILEx for a career change – Adrian Schwab

I spent 18 years in the travel industry, starting with a local travel agent and finishing up as the UK Client Care Manager. My interest in law started when I was working in the customer services department of part of the British Airways Group, looking into cases where the customer threatened to take legal action. This meant I liaised a lot with our in-house Legal Department, which I really enjoyed.

Due to an office relocation I was offered redundancy, and this paid for me to do a part-time law degree. After graduating I found out about CILEx, as one of my colleagues in the Advice Service, where I worked as a volunteer, was a Chartered Legal Executive. He was head of the personal injury department in his firm, so I thought that sounded good! Due to my law degree I was eligible for the Graduate Fast Track route and I could undertake my studies as a distance learner through CILEx Law School in my own time.

I was 47 when I started studying for the CILEx exams (hence the importance of the Fast Track route!) and I set myself a goal to be qualified by 50, which I achieved in December 2013.

I am currently working for Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) in the Legal Services Department, within the Environmental Planning team as a fee earner. BCC have been extremely supportive during my studies, and in particular my manager, Jenny Caprio, who is a team manager with a number of solicitors reporting to her, is an excellent ambassador for CILEX.

I have also been a pro bono advisor with the Enfield Evening Advice Service (a Law Works-approved law clinic) since 2003, starting as a trainee, and I am now the manager. One of the main drivers for me to go into the legal profession was to make a difference in people’s lives, and I believe the need for people to have access to free legal advice is greater now than ever before.

CILEx allowed me to achieve something that I never thought was possible. It proves that even in your mid-40s you have never missed the boat! Distance learning requires sacrifices, particularly when you need to study instead of having a family outing on a nice day, and you do need the full support of your family. It helped that my wife, Irina, was also studying to become a Fellow, and we have supported each other. Despite these sacrifices, studying with CILEx and becoming a Chartered Legal Executive was the best move I ever made.