Working in dispute resolution – Hayley Gaffney

I started as an Office Junior at a law firm when I left college at the age of 17 and then progressed to being a legal secretary in the Family Department in the same firm. Following maternity leave a few years later, I came to work at Coodes Solicitors as a PA for the Head of the Dispute Resolution Department before then deciding to undertake my studies with CILEx.

I had studied A Level Law many years before and had always been interested in the law. I discussed the options with my supervisor, the Head of the DR Department, as well as some of my colleagues, many of whom are members of CILEx and realised that CILEx could not only give me the flexibility I needed with studying by distance learning from home (as I have a young daughter), but the study materials are easy to follow and made it so much easier than any other routes I explored.

Shortly after embarking on my CILEx studies I progressed to a Litigation Executive role dealing with all areas of personal dispute resolution. My Head of Department and I drew up a profile of work that I undertake and milestones where I seek his supervision and/or input where required. Landlord and tenant law has become somewhat of my forte together with contract law. I have my own client base and run my own files under supervision as well as assisting on more complex matters run by senior fee earners. I attend marketing events and write blogs for the firm’s website.

The most rewarding part of my job is when clients say ‘thank you’. The majority of clients come to us in situations where they would much rather not be in dispute – either with neighbours, tenants, family or friends. They are usually anxious and worried about the dispute, the way ahead and the long road to resolution and when they say ‘thank you’ or ‘you have put my mind at ease’ or ‘I feel so much better having spoken to you’, it makes it all worthwhile.

My studies with CILEx Law School have been fundamental in my job role. Without my CILEx studies, I would not have been able to progress so quickly to a fee earner and be doing what I do on a daily basis nor have the knowledge to do it.

I would recommend distance learning because there is flexibility whilst still being supported. I have the resources both online, over the phone and documentation-wise to study at my own pace, when I want, where I want, whilst knowing the support is always there when I need it. The most helpful resources are the past papers and mock exams. I find these really help to focus the mind on what exactly I am learning, how it should be set out in the exams and the way I need to deal with matters in my working life too.

Receiving my Associate Membership Certificate on completing the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice gave me an overwhelming sense of achievement and made all of the hard work worthwhile. I am now studying for my Level 6 CILEx units and hope to become a Chartered Legal Executive in due course.