We pride ourselves on providing a structured and supportive programme of development opportunities for our employees and our CILEx Academy is testament to this. Working in partnership with CILEx Law School, the CILEx Academy is designed for employees looking to obtain the CILEx qualification while they work with us. This study is fully funded and delivered in-house, and has recently produced its first CILEx Graduate Members, who have qualified through the vocational route.
The partnership between Minster Law and the employee means that we can provide a supportive approach to all students, those financially supported by us and those who chose to also do this independently. Although the courses are delivered mainly by distance learning, an induction is provided from the CILEx Law School to set the scene for the students and make sure all initial questions are answered.
CILEx Law School play a large part in the programme. When asked about the academy, Learning and Development Manager, Nicola Goodman, said: “The team at Minster Law has gone to enormous effort to promote the CILEx Academy. Many firms would be envious of the supportive culture you have put in place to support your learners. There were certainly some very good candidates and lots of questions from students.”
Assistant Fee Earner, Elizabeth Smith, has just two Level six units left to sit, and in June 2016, achieved a distinction in her Level six Employment Law exam. This was on top of four distinctions and three merits in her Level three exams over the years.
“Having started at Minster Law with no legal background, I jumped at the opportunity when my employers offered me sponsorship to study for a CILEX Qualification,” continues Elizabeth. “When I started my CILEX studies, I was a Legal Assistant and as I progressed through the CILEX units I have developed an understanding of the law and in particular my law specialism, Civil Litigation. This in turn has helped me to progress further in my career and my role now involves running a small case load of Multi-Track matters and assisting associate solicitors on high value and complex cases. I have thoroughly enjoyed my studies and look forward to sitting my final exam units in 2017.”
During the last five years, six students have also achieved the smaller three-unit CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma, which is the academic qualification comprising three Level six units for those who already hold a law degree. Those who have achieved Graduate Membership through the GFTD route include Lisa Nurse, who started her legal career as a Legal Assistant in 2011.
“I was very excited to learn about qualifying through CILEx which was something Minster Law also are very passionate about,” explains Lisa. “Since I joined the company, I have moved through six different internal departments and roles, with both Minster Law and my CILEx studies assisting my progression. As I had completed my law degree but not my Legal Practice Course, the Graduate Fast Track Route was ideal for me to obtain qualifications for the job I was already doing, in order to improve my skills. Subsequently, I am in currently the process of compiling my portfolio in order to obtain Fellowship status.”
All Graduate Members are entitled to apply for Fellowship of CILEx once they have completed the qualifying employment period and submitted their work-based learning portfolios. Some students have taken advantage of the flexibility that the CILEx qualifications offer. Gemma Bielby achieved all of her Level three units in a two-year period, between September 2012 and August 2014, and last year enrolled on her first Level six courses, after taking a two-year break. “CILEx has provided an opportunity I thought I didn’t have – to continue my study while working,” she says. “They have provided support and flexibility which allowed me to balance work while gaining my qualification. Although the CILEx Law School courses are described as distance learning, the support given makes it feel far from this.”
The newer vocational enrolees are also achieving great results. James Heseltine enrolled on his first three Level three courses in September 2015 and achieved distinctions in all of them in the 2016 exam sessions. “I came into the legal sector quite late in my career, but had been leading the Client Relations team for approximately three years when I applied to take my Level three qualification,” he says. “I wanted to strengthen my legal knowledge and add value to the role I was performing at Minster Law. CILEx Law School provide structured and well balanced support throughout the learning programme and ensure candidates are motivated to gain the qualification.”
Minster Law continues to invest in the CILEx Academy. Three new students enrolled in September 2016 on the Level three vocational route and an additional four students have enrolled on their first courses for the Graduate Fast-track Diploma, for those who already hold a law degree. Thirty seven current employees are being, or have been, sponsored by Minster Law through the CILEx Academy over the past five years. This shows that developing staff breeds loyalty and commitment to the organisation.
Laura Bleasby, Technical Development Manager at Minster Law, said “My role is providing training & development opportunities to Minster Law employees, to enable them to be the best that they can be. The CILEx Academy which Minster Law has created helps to support this investment in its people’s legal knowledge whilst still meeting business requirements. All staff have the opportunity to benefit from this successful model, through both the personal and financial support that Minster provides. CLS, work closely with us to ensure that our academy students are getting everything they need and we have found this partnership works well to ensure the success of our students.” Find out more about creating a CILEx Academy with CILEx Law School