I started at my firm Milburns Solicitors in 1999 as a Business Administration apprentice shortly after leaving school with my GCSEs. During this time I obtained NVQs levels 3 and 4 in Business Administration. At the end of the apprenticeship I was taken on by Milburns as a legal secretaryin the Conveyancing Department.
After a few years as a legal secretary I realised that I wanted to progress further with my legal career. I was encouraged by my senior colleagues to go down the CILEx route. Two of my other colleagues have progressed in this way from junior support staff to fellows. Milburns paid for the cost of my studies and without their support I would not have been in a financial position to do this myself.
I enrolled on my first CILEx courses in September 2005 aged 23. As soon as I started my studies I was given my own caseload starting off with a few files of my own whilst still doing secretarial work. My caseload gradually increased and my secretarial duties decreased until quite quickly I was managing my own caseload entirely. The great thing about studying for CILEx exams while working is that your knowledge increases alongside your experience and you don’t need to wait until you are fully qualified to start progressing. I passed the last of my exams in 2009 and became a Graduate Member of CILEx in June 2009. It took a while longer for me to become a Fellow as there was a break in my final two years of qualifying employment due to taking maternity leave. I had my little girl Ruby in October 2010. I think CILEx is really good in the way you can work round your own personal and family commitments.
Although I have only recently completed the final requirements to become a qualified Chartered Legal Executive I have been running a full caseload for a number of years, in residential conveyancing, wills, probate, lasting powers of attorney and court of protection work. My work is of the same calibre and complexity as my solicitor colleagues.
Qualification as a Fellow of CILEx represents the culmination of seven years of hard work and commitment. But it was all worth it!
Nicola Harris, Chartered Legal Executive, CILEx Law School Alumna