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I went to university in 2007 but I did not do a law degree. I remember at the time thinking Law was not something I would ever want to go into. So, when I finished my degree (in Criminology and Journalism) in 2010 and I still had no idea what I wanted to do.

I decided just to get a job and then work it out from there and by chance, I started working in the call centre of a Law firm. I gradually worked my way up and moved onto handling claims myself, at which point I decided Law was actually something I wanted to do after all.

It was around this time I found out about CILEX and the route to becoming a qualified lawyer without having a law degree, which prior to this I had never heard of.

CILEX stands for the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and allows people to qualify as a specialist lawyer whilst they are working. It was ideal for me as I could not afford to return to being a student and wanted to keep gaining work experience at the same time as my qualification.

The qualification process itself take several years, dependent upon how much time you can dedicate to each unit of the course. Exams take place twice a year and there are a few coursework units to complete. I had to do a period of qualifying employment and submit a portfolio of my own work for assessment.  The good thing about CILEX is that it is flexible, you can work towards the exams and complete them when you are ready. If you have other time commitments, such as young children, you can work around this. It can also be done as a distance learning course, so you can do it from the comfort of your own home. I found the distance learning provider, CILEX Law School, to be very supportive and they put on revision sessions for the exams which I found to be incredibly helpful.

CILEX also allows you to specialise in the area of law you are most interested in. Whilst some units, such as Legal Research and Client Care are mandatory, you can make your qualification your own by choosing units to suit your specialism. I did most of mine in Civil Litigation and continue to work in this field to this day.

If you wish to, you can take further exams following qualification as a fellow of CILEX to become a fully fledged Solicitor, but I have not chosen to do this. If you do not choose to go on and become a solicitor, there are no further exams to do, but you do have to spend some time each year doing “Continuing Professional Development”. This is not too onerous, and as my chosen field of personal injury and civil litigation is always changing, I never struggle with this!

I qualified in April 2018, so I am now coming up to four years post qualification. I have never looked back, and all the hard work and long evenings spent revising after work was all worth it as I now have a career doing something I love!