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Is a law degree still the best way to begin?

View profile for Bethany Isard
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Degrees are not now the only way to enter this profession, learning about the CILEx route I was able to learn part time over 3 years in my evenings along side other professionals in the same situation as me. Not many people are aware that there are other routes into law such as CILEx and apprenticeships.

From September 2021 you will be able to qualify as a solicitor when you have undertaken the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam. You will be able to take this after you have completed your degree at university or when you have completed your level 6 CILEx qualification. You will also need to gain 2 years of qualifying work experience.

Going to a traditional university is sometimes not for everyone and there are certain experiences that can only be learnt in the working environment, not within a degree.

CILEx is the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives. You will need to take Level 3 (10 modules at A Level standard) and then move on to take level 6 (6 modules at Degree standard). Once you have completed your law degree, you will be able to take on the title of GCILEx (Graduate of CILEx) and are a fully qualified paralegal. You can complete these modules in the traditional 3 years as you would as university (this is what I have done, whilst working full time) or you can undertake them over a longer period of your choosing.

To qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive, you need 3 years of work experience undertaking legal tasks which is judged on an individual basis. One of your years’ experience needs to be as a graduate. You will then be able to submit your application to CILEx to become a Fellow.

A fellow is able to take on the same work as a solicitor and is able to handle their own files. Chartered Legal Executives are still a rare qualification within the legal profession but there are many advantages for going it this way.

I am currently 20 years old and graduating this June with 3 years work experience behind me, no debt and professional relationships which will carry me though my career. I fell in love with property at a young age, but it was only when I started working at Feldon Dunsmore that I realised property law was the interest I wanted to pursue.

Taking on my role as a junior apprentice at 17 was my first job and I haven’t looked back; my FD family have supported me throughout and I think every young lawyer should have the chance to experience this.

There are so many invaluable experiences I have gained by working hands on alongside studying such as seeing so many of the principles in practice and bettering my understanding.

The cost of a CILEx degree is paramount in a decision over whether to attend University. To undertake the whole 3 years of the CILEx course as well as exam fees would amount to under the cost of attending 1 year of university at £9,000.00. You will have also saved on costs of accommodation as well as earning a salary to cover costs and save your money!

If you are a paralegal or a school leaver, please feel free to send me a message and I would be happy to help.

Author: Bethany Isard

26 February 2021