Testimonials: What our members say

As a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer, you will have the opportunity to specialise in different areas of the law and register at different grades of membership, from student to Fellow.

Find out about the different experiences of Chartered Legal Executive lawyers and what they say about the CILEx route.

"It seems to me that the smart man’s option is the CILEx route."

Stuart Henry graduated with a law degree and went on to take the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma. He is now a Chartered Legal Executive working as a senior litigator in property and contract litigation. He also guest-lectures at the University of Gloucestershire in contract law. This is what he says to his students:

“With the changes to the Legal Services Act 2007, coupled with the news of CILEx’s practice rights applications being approved last year, I am struggling to see the advantage of the traditional solicitor route compared to the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma route.

"It’s a simple examination of the facts: £12,000 paid for the LPC (often using borrowed money which incurs interest) for you to then have to gamble on securing the all elusive training contract, which seem to get rarer by the day. The harsh truth about training contract places is, you’re not just competing against your peers sat around you at university, you’re also competing against last year’s graduates, and the previous year’s, and the previous year’s. I work with paralegal graduates that are still searching after 7 years, and the average I would say is 3 years in paralegal jobs before a training contract is secured, let alone started.

"The CILEX Graduate Fast-track Diploma route eliminates that risk and uncertainty entirely. Provided you are in qualifying employment (which is comparatively easy to secure compared to the training contract) every day you get up and go to work, you are a day closer to qualifying. It’s empowering to know that you are the one in control of your career, and not dependent on fitting a profile which often has nothing to do with your legal skills…. and the clincher – you pay a fraction of the cost. You qualify quicker, cheaper and the experience in your discipline sets you further ahead than your newly qualified solicitor peers who have done a mere 6 months in their chosen discipline.

"It seems to me that the smart man’s option is the CILEx route."

Stuart Henry, FCILEx

"The CILEx route is an not an easy option or in any way inferior to going to university."

A hospital is not the first place most people would expect to find a lawyer, but even the best health professionals need the support of a good legal professional from time to time.

Harbens is a practising Fellow and a legal services/claims manager for an acute London hospital, working mainly on clinical negligence cases

"In my work I get involved in a wide range of different legal issues affecting the every day practices of our clinicians," she says. "This can range from dealing with Mental Health Sections, to representing the Trust at a Coroner's hearing. I can attend court as an advocate for the Trust, and I meet with clinicians taking statements, so the work is very wide ranging.

"You certainly need to be approachable, so that anyone can come to you with any type of legal problem big or small and know they have come to the right place, and that they'll get the right support and guidance.

"I have always have had interest in 'people's rights', and access to a fair hearing, especially for the vulnerable. I feel very strongly about the need for justice, and the right to have your case heard.

"When I left  school after taking my GCSEs I went to work in a Post Office – just really until I could make up my mind about what I wanted to do.

"I later went on to work for the NHS, initially in the HR department of the local hospital. I transferred over to their legal office working with an in-house Counsel. After learning all about claims handling I was bitten by the legal bug. I was encouraged by my employer to consider training to be a lawyer.

"I had already completed an CILEx secretarial course, so I enquired about the CILEx courses for qualifying as a lawyer. I was sent the relevant information pack, which was informative, and described in a clear way the benefits of studying via the CILEx route and started my CILEx course which enabled me to work so I could earn and learn at the same time! My employers also met part of the cost of the CILEx training and were very supportive throughout my training period.

"For anyone thinking about a career in law I would certainly say they should consider studying via the CILEx route! However they should not think that the CILEx route is an easy option or in any way inferior to going to university.

"You do need to be determined and believe yourself. You need to be focused prepared to study hard and aim to be a credit to yourself and the profession. From my experience, I would recommend that you think hard about the area you want to specialise in, and move in that direction, make contacts attend seminars and talks.

"There is so much competition for training contracts that it makes sense to become specialised in a particular area of law through CILEx, and then make a decision if you want to go further once you've done your exams.

Harbens is now training to be a solicitor and hopes to complete her Legal Practice Course (LPC) in 2009. As she has taken the CILEx route to qualification, she is exempt from having to undertake the training contract. As she says, "Without CILEx my career would not have been possible. I have a lot of respect and gratitude to CILEx, as an entirely supportive and adaptable way to study law."

Harbens Kaur, FCILEx

"Specialising in personal injury cases, I feel both valued and respected by my colleagues."

Having completed her A-levels, Ashi Arora decided to enrol for a legal administration course at college, her first step towards a career in law.  However, Ashi's ultimate goal was to qualify as a lawyer and after researching her options, she realised that the CILEx route would allow her to work at her own pace and gain hands-on experience at the same time.

"My first position was as an outdoor clerk, taking half a day off a week to attend college. The firm paid for my course fees and exams and I had the support and guidance of experienced practitioners around me.

"It took five years to complete the CILEx qualification during which time I relocated to Manchester and began working as a trainee Legal Executive. It was certainly hard work, while my friends were on summer holiday I would be revising, but the long-term goals were definitely worth focusing on.

"In 1997 I joined Davis Blank Furniss Solicitors and I now specialise in personal injury cases. The team around me is extremely supportive and I feel both valued and respected by my colleagues.

"I am an active member of the local CILEx branch and the Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce, where I have learned skills such as delegation and time management. In recognition of my contribution to the community, alongside my professional accomplishments, I have been honoured with the Asian Achievers Award."

Ashi Arora,  FCILEx

“Your career is opened up to so many different avenues with CILEx – it’s unbelievable.”

Joanne graduated with a 2.2 in law from the Swansea Institute and is studying with CILEx.

"I decided not to pursue a career as a solicitor as I couldn’t afford to do the LPC, which is another reason why I decided to undertake the CILEx diploma. At the moment I am two steps below a solicitor. When I get the CILEx qualification I will be just one step below. It was a good opportunity to further my career, as well as having another qualification.

"I started doing the CILEx diploma while I was doing my degree. It was a two-year course: the first year was portfolio-based and covered all aspects of law, which I found quite interesting. In the second year I had one lecture a week, and at the end of the year there was an exam. I found it quite difficult because at the same time I also had exams for university.

"You have to really study for it – there are so many grey areas of law. There is a lot of work to be done. It takes a while, like every degree, but the rewards are fantastic. Your career is opened up to so many different avenues with CILEx - it’s unbelievable.

She is currently a paralegal working for 1-Legal solicitors. "Work is quite happy for me to step up and become a Chartered Legal Executive.

I currently deal with clients who have new claims,"says Joanne ."I find out what happened, and get as much information as possible from them. I then type the details up, and pass it on to a partner, who decides if they’re going to take the claim on. If the client doesn’t have legal expenses cover, we arrange for an insurance policy with a “no win no fee” agreement.

"I send out a CFA (conditional fee agreement) and I then pass the claim on to whoever’s going to be dealing with it. For road traffic accidents, I check the vehicle. If necessary, I arrange for more photos to be taken. We deal with all types of personal injury claims: personal injury covers road traffic accidents and employer liability. We also have departments that deal with industrial disputes, and a team that specialises in conveyancing.

"I really enjoy dealing with clients on the phone. I even like chasing people up. There is something different every single day, which is great. For me the most challenging part is when I’m doing something new. For example, I might have a new claim form that needs completing. Things like that I find the most challenging, but also the most fun."

Joanne Davies