I first got into the law as a legal secretary, and after a number of years of secretarial work I was promoted to be the personal assistant to the senior partner of the firm I was working for, who encouraged me to think about studying for the CILEx exams. I enrolled on the first set of Level 3 exams in September and passed them in the exams the following June. I had only studied GCSEs and my secretarial qualifications before then, so I was really pleased with my achievement. However, due to various issues in my personal life, I then took a break from studying which ended up lasting for five years.
When I decided to continue with the qualification, I took up my studies where I had left off, completing the remainder of the Level 3 qualification and the full Level 6 qualification by distance learning with CILEx Law School (then ITC) over the next few years.
You do have to make considerable sacrifices in your social life and other personal commitments, as studying by distance learning alongside a busy full-time job is very time-consuming. Having said that, there is a lot of flexibility built into the qualification and also into the courses themselves. You can decide how many courses to enrol on at any one time, and decide which exam session to aim for, so that you can set a pace that allows you to manage your studies alongside everything else. I took five years of study to complete the qualification, which is more than some people take, but I did it at a pace that was manageable for me.
I have enjoyed the process and would recommend it, and I had a great deal of encouragement and support from my husband and my employers, MCP, who paid for my courses and CILEx membership and exam fees. I am certainly enjoying working as a qualified lawyer in probate, which is the area that I have chosen to specialise in, and hope to practise the law for many years to come.
Sam Street, Chartered Legal Executive, CILEx Law School Alumna