From holiday rep to qualified lawyer

I spent most of my 20s working abroad for a holiday company. When I returned I started looking for secretarial work as this is what I had done during my stints at home between seasons. My friend was a legal secretary and told me about a vacancy at her firm.They were looking ideally for people who had experience in a legal environment and I had never even set foot in a legal office before but they gave me a chance and I began working in the company commercial department.

The firm offered all legal secretaries the opportunity to qualify as a lawyer through ILEX (as it then was) and I was made aware of this during my interview.

I was 28 when I enrolled on my first courses and had transferred to the Property Department. Although still officially a secretary, my boss was aware of my eagerness to progress and so I became more of an unofficial PA/paralegal.

Upon becoming a Graduate Member at the end of my academic studies, the firm was unable to give me a full-time fee earner role so I moved jobs and began the final two years of my qualifying employment at a new firm as a Legal Assistant. I have now completed these two years and am now a fully qualified Chartered Legal Executive in the Land Development team, acting primarily for developers in the acquisition of new sites, the obtaining of planning permission and the subsequent development and disposal of the sites. Chartered Legal Executives are well regarded within my firm and achieving this status greatly contributed to the increase in salary I received at my last pay review.

If you had told me when I decided to give up the itinerant sun-seeking life that I would be a qualified lawyer in six years I would have told you not to be daft! Sometimes I can’t believe my luck – CILEx really has been a great route to a good lifestyle for me.

Emma Bartlett – CILEx Law School Alumna