Jo Anne Vernon – from hotel chef to Chartered Legal Executive training

When I left school I qualified as a chef. I worked in one of the top hotels in London and the hours were long. I eventually moved back down to Poole and worked in a few restaurants in the area but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do.

I had been helping a friend out with some contact issues with his children and found the law side of it really interesting. I knew someone who was a Chartered Legal Executive and made some enquiries about this, which resulted in my enrolling on courses for the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice. I was around 23/24 when I started studying. I managed to get a job as a legal secretary at a criminal firm, and gradually took on more of a paralegal role as my knowledge grew.

I took maternity leave to have my son, and wanted to work part time after that. I was lucky enough to secure a paralegal role working for Nick Hanning, a former CILEx President, and great supporter of CILEx students, working in employment and general dispute resolution. We specialise in bullying and harassment at work. It was a complete change from criminal but probably one of the best decisions I have made!

I took a break from studying after I had completed my CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice and have just sat my first two units towards my CILEx Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice Employment Law and Employment Practice. I am a single parent so finding time to study whilst working and looking after a three-year-old is tricky but I have learnt to manage my time. CILEx is quite flexible!. I had to fund my Level 3 by taking out a career development loan. I am very lucky that my employer now funds my studies (at the moment anyway!)