NAME: LOUISE GILBEY
STUDY: BA FILM, SHEFFIELD HALLAM
WORK: PARALEGAL (LEGAL EXECUTIVE ON QUALIFICATION) CAMERON MCKENNA
HOW DID YOU GET INTO YOUR CURRENT CAREER PATH?
After graduating in 1999 I found it very difficult to find a job in film. After moving back home I decided that a career in law might suit me instead. I’d done A-Level Law and found it really useful. I applied to work at a local solicitors just to get my foot in the door and then started to work my way up from there. The firm supported me when I wanted to train as a legal executive and released me for a day a week to attend college. Later I moved to London and found work with a small firm who paid for the last three years of my course. When you complete the exams have a two-year period where you have to remain in practice – a bit like a training contract for a trainee solicitor. I recently began work as a paralegal with Cameron McKenna, working in real estate doing conveyancing. I’ll qualify as a legal executive next year.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I enjoy having my own case load and my own clients. And while I enjoy working independently, I also get the chance to work with other people closely. The work-life balance here is very good and there’s a nice social network too.
MOST CHALLENGING PART OF THE JOB?
You need to be very analytical and be able to pay attention to detail. Although one criticism of conveyancing is that it can be repetitive there are plenty of differences to be aware of and you do have to stay on top of them.
ADVICE TO OTHER STUDENTS?
I think it’s important to speak to people who have done the course – it’s intensive, tricky and has plenty of exams. It’s also quite a commitment as it can take between four and six years. My experience is that law firms are supportive of legal execs, but you have to keep persevering.
TRAINING AS A LEGAL EXEC
Legal executives are qualified lawyers specialising a particular area of law who have passed a qualification to the same level as that required of solicitors. They have to have at least five years’ experience of working under the supervision of a solicitor. Their day-to-day work is similar to that of a solicitor such as handling the legal aspects of property transfers, advising clients accused of crimes and assisting in the formation of a company. Most people study while they are working – by day release, evening classes or by taking a home-study correspondence course – combining study and examination with practical experience. The examinations are in two parts, with each part usually taking two years to complete. The total cost of completing the training is currently about £3,162, spread over four years.