To coincide with Graduation Week, CILEx Graduate Natalie Chapman tells her story

My first job was as an administrative assistant in a firm of solicitors. I had finished my A-levels and didn’t want to go University. The fee earner I was working for was studying for her final CILEx Level 6 exams when I started working with her, and eventually she persuaded me to start studying for the CILEx qualifications.

Once I completed my CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice I relocated cities and got a dream job at an International law firm (Eversheds). I had just got married and the thought of committing to another few years studying to complete my Level 6 was so terrifying and exhausting. However, my boss and supervisor at the time encouraged me to continue with it saying that it would be worth all of the hard work – I can honestly say that it is!

I completed both of my skills units and my practice unit (in Conveyancing) and was just starting my Land Law unit when I discovered I was pregnant, with twins! Of course, everything (study, social life, and not long afterwards work) was put on hold as the pregnancy and then having two newborns was the hardest thing I have ever done.

When my twins were nine months I had decided that I wasn’t going back to work but was going to take a career break and finish my Level 6 once and for all! I had three law units to complete and set a target of doing one unit every six months sitting the exams in each January and June exam session. It was very challenging being a full time mum to my twins, looking after the house and studying. As my exam approach it felt as though every moment I wasn’t looking after the twins I was looking at my notes, text books, computers….

I have now completed Level 6 and am self-employed as an estate planning consultant, combining being a mum with part-time work, which is ideal. I’m now a Graduate Member of CILEx and hope to be able to get back to work to complete my qualifying employment to become a Fellow in the not too distant future. The CILEx qualifications are tough, particularly at Level 6, but they give you a chance of a great career and I would recommend them to anyone.