My Legal Career – Story 4

We’ve been sharing a case study each week from one of our wonderful CILEx learners, sharing their journey through legal training and practice with you. Here’s Jeanette’s story in her words.

I’m currently a Conveyancing Executive in Coventry, West Midlands, working in a solicitor’s firm. I was asked about 8 years ago by my then current employer to work towards the CILEx Certificate in Law and Practice in Elderly Client  (i.e. the first 5 units).  I then changed employers and decided I wanted to continue with completion of Level 3 to push myself that little bit more.  I am now one exam away from completing Level 6.

I started work some 30 years ago as an office junior in an in-house legal department for AT&T Istel.  From there I progressed and worked my way up. I then worked in various firms in-house legal departments before I decided to try my hand working in a solicitor’s practice.  I started as a legal secretary but quickly realised that I wanted to challenge myself and felt I had an aptitude and desire to do more.  Over the last ten years I have progressed my career and have progressed from being a senior secretary to a fee earner working in conveyancing with my own caseload.

I completed Level 3 with relative ease and was therefore devastated when I failed my first Level 6 exam.  I was under prepared and had not anticipated the jump from Level 3. I learnt a lot from that and with the support form Tutor at Brightlink I didn’t give up.  I only have one Level 6 exam to complete and have achieved qualifying employment in my current role.

The main challenge from a work point of view is being seen as a fee earner and not a secretary.  In order to achieve that I had to move companies and have learnt so much in doing so.   Studying can be difficult, trying to fit in the required hours around running a home and looking after a family whilst holding down a full-time job and trying to get fitter but if you want to achieve you find a way. I have tried to face those challenges by being kind to myself. People who know me know that I am not so good at this but you have bad days, you have failures but you learn a lot from those failures. I try not to give up although there have been a few times I nearly have. I allowed myself time off if it all gets too much.

The best advice I received about work and study was to be kind to yourself and not put too much pressure on yourself.  If you fail an exam, have a good cry and reflect but learn from it and it makes you stronger next time. Mainly just keep going, the end result is worth it.

My advice to others would be, don’t waste time thinking about it,  just take that first step, gain experience as a legal secretary first if nothing else as this will help you learn the basics and a better understanding going forwards.  I put it off for 20 years and am now in my late 40’s and the studying does not come as easy now. To any mature students, it is still not too late! You can achieve it, it just takes that little bit longer for material to sink in.

I am looking forward to completing my studies next year and being able to concentrate on my family but I am also looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Life can be challenging at times and I have struggled with confidence and ability to believe in myself. Even after achieving some great exam results I still doubt myself even though I am doing the job day in day out.  Believe in yourself! Push yourself! and you can achieve your dreams.  The day I pass my last exam the song I am playing will be by Whitney Houston “One Moment in time” when I am more than I thought I could be”


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