CILEx careers

Case Studies

Apprentice Case Studies

Watch our short video case study by lawyer-to-be Danielle Owen who undertook a legal apprenticeship.

Liam Staples

Liam Staples
Clifford Chance
Paralegal Apprentice

Liam Staples is a Paralegal Apprentice within the Newcastle office of Clifford Chance. He is currently halfway through studying for a level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship with CILEx Law School.

I left school after my GCSEs and went to college to study accountancy. After my first year at college I took a job at the Land Registry working as a registration officer whilst completing my accountancy course remotely. I worked there for two years, supplying solicitors with the documents they needed when conducting searches for property transactions. The role sparked my interest in pursuing a legal career. 

After reviewing my options, I decided to apply for an apprenticeship with Clifford Chance whilst studying with CILEx Law School.

I started the apprenticeship just over a year ago and am really happy with my decision. I work four days a week and have one day studying. Work and study fit really well together, with what I am learning about contract law and litigation in particular proving invaluable for my work which is focused on civil litigation in the real estate sector.

I work within the apprenticeship team at the Newcastle offices of Clifford Chance. There are around 90-100 people working here, including managers, paralegals and administrative staff. My job is focused on completing both basic and complex legal work which includes due diligence, indexing court documentation and document reviews, contract reviews, non-disclosure agreement reviews, loan reviews and mortgage reviews. There’s something different to tackle everyday so I never find myself getting bored. 

There is a lot of responsibility within my role and I work with a with a range of different colleagues, including those from our global headquarters in London. The work can get quite technical and challenging but I’m part of an experienced team so there’s always someone able to help me if I need it.

It’s not easy to get back into studying after a couple of years break but distance learning with CILEx really suits me. I prefer the webinars to classroom teaching as the small groups taking part mean it’s easy to get involved in discussions and there is plenty of time to ask questions and speak to tutors.

My final interview and assessment will be in September this year so I’ve still got a way to go. I’ll then be considering my next steps and whether to study further with CILEx. Longer term, I'm interested in the in-house legal project manager career path or perhaps studying further CILEx modules to become a Chartered Legal Executive.

Anyone considering a career in the law should definitely look at apprenticeships. So far I have found it a rewarding experience with lots of opportunities to meet and work with new people, take on responsibility and grow my knowledge.

Date uploaded: 21.04.2020

Jack Lavelle
Jack Lavelle
1st Central Law

Jack Lavelle is a Recoveries Team Manager at 1st Central Law in Manchester. He is about to begin studying to become a Charted Legal Executive having completed his apprenticeship with CILEx through Manchester Metropolitan University.

I studied for Law and Business Studies A-Levels at college in Stockport and knew that I wanted to go into the legal profession. Like most of my friends I began applying to go to university but was apprehensive at the prospect of three to four years more study. What I really wanted to do was get stuck in, to gain experience in the workplace and begin to build a career in law straight away.

My college law tutor told me about the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and explained that through an apprenticeship I could work, earn money and study at the same time. This seemed like the perfect option for me and I applied to Manchester Metropolitan University to study for a CILEx Level 4 Diploma in Providing Legal Services.

I needed to find a firm to take me on and interviewed with five potential employers. Three firms offered me an apprenticeship position and I chose 1st Central Law in Manchester. I was drawn to the firm’s focus on road traffic accident claims and could see the role had the most potential for progression.

I joined the firm in 2015 as a paralegal, managing my own caseload of around 250 clients, working four days a week and attending lectures and studying on my day off. 

I work in the area of the firm that recovers costs for the insurers on behalf of their policyholders whose vehicles have been damaged in road traffic accidents. When I first started, my job was to draft and issue Court documents, handle clients, ensure we were adhering to Civil Procedure Rules and instruct barristers where necessary.

It was a lot to take on just out of college and it is fair to say I was thrown in at the deep end, but it was a great experience. What I was learning on the academic side of my course really helped with my day to day workload and the experience gained on the job helped me put what I was learning into context.

I had a lot of support from my employer and tutors and was soon promoted to Team Leader. In 2018 I completed my apprenticeship and was promoted again to Recoveries Manager.  I now manage a team of 11 fee earners who do the same work I used to do. I deal with any technical queries they may have, handle HR issues and am responsible for making sure the team hits their targets. 

I really enjoy the people management side of the role which I handle alongside my own caseload dealing with situations where policy holders have breached the terms of their insurance contracts.

Almost every day I encounter something new. I’ve been working in the area for five years now but still find situations I haven’t seen before come up and that I need to research case law and legal arguments to understand how best to advise my team on what to do next.  It’s vital that we get it right so it’s a lot of responsibility.  This is where the knowledge I have gained through my studies really comes to the forefront.

My next step is to begin studying for my CILEx Level 6 qualification. That will allow me to operate at a higher level, take on new areas of work, expand my knowledge into other areas of the law and eventually become a Chartered Legal Executive.

For anyone considering an apprenticeship, I would say go for it. It’s great to get the opportunity to study and work at the same time, gaining technical expertise on the job whilst learning the theory at University. 

You have to work very hard and have to be organised but I know that I have been able to get where I am today a lot more quickly than if I had gone down the University route. 

Date uploaded 21.04.2020

Chloe Kingston Headshot

Chloe Kingston
Business Administration Apprentice
National Accident Helpline

Chloe was unsure what she wanted to do as a career and never thought she would have a chance of working in the legal profession. But when she started working as a receptionist at National Accident Helpline she was given the chance of doing an apprenticeship in business administration.

I went to college after my GCSEs to study childcare but soon realised it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I stopped my course and worked for a hotel and spa in Kettering for three years. I worked abroad for a time and when I came back to the UK started working for National Accident Helpline. I hadn’t really considered a career in law before but when I applied for my job I could tell that they cared about their staff and their development.

It had never occurred to me that I would be able to work in the legal industry. I had always thought you would need a degree so never thought it would even be an option for me. It was a nice surprise when I realised I could work in law without a degree and get a qualification through the business administration apprenticeship.

It was my employer who told me I should apply for the apprenticeship at CILEx Law School. I was working in reception at the time and they thought I would be suitable. I jumped at the chance to better myself. It was also great that I could do my studying at work. My biggest fear was that I would have to go back to college, so when I heard that I could learn remotely whilst continuing to work I was chuffed.

My job is to look at the processes we have in place and make sure they are working efficiently. I do a lot of quality checking on our cases and communication with our consumers. I am constantly looking at ways in which we can improve our processes and developing training to help our legal support advisors.

The biggest thing I like about my job is that I have an impact on how the business changes and I can help it improve. I feel that my voice is always heard and even if they don’t take my suggestions, they will give me a reason why not.

The biggest challenge for me is that I don’t have a systems background and I am suggesting ideas to a team who have been doing it for years. It’s all about learning what works and then trying to develop from there.

I find the balance of work and study on the apprenticeship really enjoyable. I was surprised just how different to college it was, as the learning isn’t classroom based but a lot more high-tech with much of the teaching being done through webinars. I find this much more interesting than having somebody talk at you in the classroom.

The apprenticeship has been fantastic for me and I would absolutely recommend it to others. I have told people across my company that if they get a chance to do a course then they should go for it. I am sure many people will be surprised just how enjoyable and fulfilling it is.

Date uploaded: 07.02.2020                                                                 

Kelsey Crumpton

Kelsey Crumpton
Trainee Chartered Legal Executive 
Selby Lowndes Family Solicitors Ltd

Kelsey Crumpton left university after one semester having realised it was not for her. After starting a job as a receptionist in a law firm she was offered the chance to study with CILEx and is now working as a trainee Chartered Legal Executive and has ambitions to become a judge.

I started a German and Spanish degree at university with the intention of becoming an interpreter, but I left at the end of the first semester after I found I wasn’t enjoying the university learning experience. Looking back I realise I decided to go to university because all my friends were going and I felt I should do the same.

A friend recommended a receptionist job at a law firm, my first experience working in the legal sector. After I started, they needed some help in the family department and offered me the chance to do a CILEx apprenticeship to become a paralegal. It was a great opportunity and I jumped at the chance.

Since completing my Legal Services Apprenticeship, I have moved to a niche family law firm called Selby Lowndes Family Solicitors Ltd and I am now enrolled onto the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship.

As an apprentice, I have much more responsibility than when I first started and really enjoy my job as a trainee lawyer. The learning that I have been doing alongside my work has really benefited me and I’ve grown in confidence.

I really enjoy going to court after doing all the preparation for the hearings. It’s nice to see, especially when you have worked so hard on a case. The job is hard sometimes when you are dealing with clients who are understandably upset, but it is also really rewarding to be able to help them and see them come through a difficult time in their lives.

While university was not the environment for me, CILEx has offered me the opportunity to study while working at the same time. My apprenticeship is paid for by my employers and so I have no debts from my studies. My salary, even as a trainee, is higher than the salaries of my friends who went to university and have graduate-level jobs.

I really enjoy the way that the distance-learning courses for the CILEx qualifications within the apprenticeship are provided; the CILEx Law School webinars are so useful and interactive, and they definitely suit my style of learning better than the traditional classroom environment. I also really enjoy the study days and being able to meet my tutors and other apprentices.

I work a four-day week in the office and have one day a week set aside for study.  I find my off-the-job time so valuable to my studies. It means I can focus solely on my work for the other four days of the week, knowing I can devote a whole day of the working week to my studies, and still have time to have a life outside of work hours and at weekends.

I would recommend others to do an apprenticeship because, from the very first day, you earn money while you learn. The hands-on experience of the sector in which you work is so useful when it comes to applying your learning to the job and really develops a better understanding of the law. University does not suit everyone and the opportunity to have formal training without a degree is just too good not to take up.

My plan is to qualify as a lawyer in 2023 and ultimately become a judge in the future. That would be a fantastic achievement and one I will strive towards.

Date uploaded: 05.02.2020

Rachel Walker
Taylor & Emmet

Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker is studying for a Level 3 paralegal apprenticeship with Sheffield law firm Taylor & Emmet

Rachel Walker knew she did not want to go to university. “I wanted to learn on the job, rather than through books,” she explains. “It’s more my style of learning.”

As someone who enjoyed studying history at school, with its focus on detail and essay-based answers, law seemed an interesting option when she attended a careers event. Her research showed that she did not need to go to university to eventually qualify as a lawyer, so Rachel checked out various law firm websites and applied for a job. Two weeks after she finished her GCSEs, she began a Level 2 apprenticeship as a legal administrator at Sheffield law firm Taylor & Emmet.

The role was initially quite secretarial in nature, where she learnt a lot about telephone etiquette, and Rachel moved on to closing files and billing clients, as well as attending meetings with her supervisor and taking notes.

Having completed that in September 2018, she is now in the middle of a Level 3 paralegal apprenticeship. Working in the contentious probate department, Rachel drafts letters, emails and a variety of legal documents, as well as attending court and client meetings without her supervisor.

She initially interviewed to work in family and childcare law, but found the subject matter uncomfortable in places, and asked to work in probate instead, having researched it. A pleasant surprise was the discovery that there is a contentious side to this area of law – meaning disputes over entitlements from people’s estates – rather than simply administering probate.

But it is complex work and can be challenging the first time you do it. “Here I’m doing it before I learn it in the book, whereas at university it’s the other way round. But with the support I receive at work and through CILEx Law School, it’s easily overcome.”

Rachel adds: “I enjoy all of the work I undertake but the best experiences have come from going to court and seeing how it actually works. It’s also been great to network and talk to people across the sector and see how it all fits together.”

She is already eyeing up a Level 6 apprenticeship that will lead to qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive. “I really feel like I thrive learning on the job, giving me opportunities that push me in the direction I want to go.”

Rachel has adapted to combining study and work – it’s “very different from going to school” – but with the seven hours a week she gets to study, “everything fits really well”.

“I believe the apprenticeship route is the perfect alternative to college and/or university as it provides you with knowledge and experience which cannot be taught from a book in a classroom,” she says. “I have taken on a lot of responsibility as I have progressed in my role, which has provided me with invaluable opportunities.

“The benefits of apprenticeships are not always shouted from the rooftops, so you have to do your own research. Make sure you’ve explored all the options before going down the traditional route.”

Date uploaded: 04.02.2020

Shannon Montford

Shannon Montford

Shannon Montford knew she wanted to go into the law from a young age and is relishing her role working as a paralegal for communications infrastructure company Arqiva. She is carrying out a paralegal apprenticeship through CILEx.

I knew that I wanted to go into law since I was at secondary school. I have always had a passion for justice. My mum is a foster carer which means she has to deal with various legal issues, so I have been aware of the law from a young age and it was something that interested me.

In college two trainee solicitors had shared their journeys into law with us. One had been to university and another had carried out an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship route appealed to me the most.

Many people think that to go into the law you need to be a straight A student, but that really isn’t the case. It’s not so much what you know, as you learn this in time, but how hard you are willing to work for it.

I chose to get into law with an apprenticeship because I wanted to get on the job experience as I studied. Experience is massively important, and an apprenticeship gives you that as well as teaching you life skills -  not just how to sit exams. An apprenticeship also gives you the chance to network. I get to speak to lawyers every day and that isn’t something you get at university.

I am currently carrying out a paralegal apprenticeship in an in-house legal department at communications infrastructure company, Arqiva. Being in-house rather than at a law firm is different, but I wanted to work in corporate law as I feel there are more opportunities available. It is an interesting role as you are working for one company rather than representing individual clients. My day-to-day work varies from working in the lease renewals team to working in the commercial team drafting legal documents.

I really enjoy learning new things every day and this apprenticeship gives me that. I feel like people around me are trying to make me the best that I can be.

I find the balance between study and work really works for me, as I do seven and a half hours a week studying and the rest working. Learning through webinars is also a major plus point for me. My employer is very understanding about my study and is flexible, allowing me more time to study if I need it, such as for exams.

My plans are to finish my level 3 with CILEx Law School and then aim to get my level 6. On top of that I’m really keen to apply to be a magistrate. There are very few young magistrates and I feel like it would be a worthwhile thing to do. Ultimately, I think I would really like to teach law.

I would definitely recommend the CILEx apprenticeship to anybody wanting to get into law. Some people come out of university and can’t get a job in their chosen field, whereas with an apprenticeship you have a job and come out with a qualification. It was a no brainer for me, and it is all working out really well. People think university is the only way to go but it’s not. I would advise people to consider the apprenticeship route as there are a lot of benefits.

Date uploaded: 04.02.2020

Ben Wright

Ben Wright
Womble Bond Dickinson

Ben Wright is a 20-year-old paralegal apprentice in the Plymouth office of transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD).

Having decided he wanted to enter the world of work after A-Levels, rather than go to university, his interest in the law was piqued when he came across the firm’s stand at a careers fair. Ben had not previously considered law as a possible career, but as a humanities student he thought that it suited his skills. Having investigated some more, he applied for a paralegal apprenticeship.

The WBD application process is thorough. An initial video interview was followed by a four-day assessment which saw Ben experience life in different teams for the first three days – shadowing staff and undertaking mock tasks – before a final day of interviews and group exercise.

The positive aspect, Ben says, is that it gave him a real insight into working for a law firm, while WBD was able to judge whether he was suitable for them.

It also helps the firm decide where best to place its new apprentices; for Ben, that meant the property team, where he handles mainly commercial work, dealing with an array of companies. There are 10-15 people in his team, led by senior paralegals and a lawyer supervisor, and he carries out a range of tasks. “I find completing a matter from start to finish very rewarding. It makes me feel that I’ve made a difference. I also simply enjoy working with my team. We’re all of a similar age and get along really well.”

He finds the maths element of the job – such as calculating tax – can challenge him and from time to time there will be clients or third parties with issues to tackle. “It’s not often but it does happen and you learn to deal with it. The key is not to take it to heart and to find a solution.”

Ben has had the chance to work from other offices where they need some help – particularly the Bristol office – while he had a memorable trip to Newcastle for an internal apprentice development programme. Here he had the chance to meet apprentices from across the firm. “The purpose was to build our soft and hard skills and help us network around the firm,” he recalls. “It was a really good experience and they want you to feel part of the business.”

He’s found combining study and work very manageable. “It’s very different from school where you have to do the extra study at home. You get seven hours a week of study as part of the apprenticeship and so it’s very rare that I have to do anything at home, except in the run-up to exams.” Indeed, having worked part-time at the weekend while at school, Ben’s now reclaimed his weekends.

All in all, it’s been a very positive experience. His two-year course finishes in September 2020 and there is a clear path at the firm to progress further. “I have plenty of friends who are not sure what they want to do and so have gone to university.” says Ben. “I would thoroughly recommend an apprenticeship and if you wanted to go to university after, you can. There is no deadline."

Date uploaded: 03.02.2020

Benjamin Bennett-Williams
Clyde & Co Solicitors

Benjamin Bennett WilliamsEver since I began AS Law in college I knew that I wanted to work in law, however due to being dyslexic I didn’t think university would suit my way of learning.

I started researching into alternative ways to qualify as a lawyer and came across the CILEx legal apprenticeship. This was the perfect solution as it gave me hands-on experience and allowed me to get my foot in the door at an international law firm. 

I have now completed the CILEx legal apprenticeship. I am in the process of completing my Level 3 CILEx exams and plan to go onto the Level 6. I have over two years of experience and I am now a paralegal at Clyde & Co. 

At Clyde & Co I assist the file handlers with the day-to-day running of their files. This can be anything from drafting legal documents to sitting in on conferences.

If you are like me and don’t think university would be suited to you, then I would highly recommend the legal apprenticeship as a route into law. Experience is so valuable in the modern world and once you get your foot in the door and show you’re committed and hardworking you can go as far as you want to with CILEx.

Abbi Lavill
Legal Apprentice
Gowling WLG LLP

Abbi Lavill

Despite not being sure what I wanted to do when I left school, one thing I was sure about was that I didn’t want to go to university; instead, I wanted somethingthat meant I could get a head start on everyone else in the world of work, earn a salary and, ultimately, use those three years to get my foot in the door of a firm and start carving out a career for myself. I started looking at apprenticeships as an alternative after one of my friends told me about CILEx. And after several aptitude tests, a phone interview, and a formal interview and securing the required grades, I was offered a position at Gowling WLG where I’ve now been working since September 2015.

My day can consist of anything from drafting and reviewing documents to attending all-party meetings and site visits. The work is incredibly varied, and it’s so satisfying to see the things that you’re studying come alive in what you’re doing day-to-day; it really helps to motivate you to keep learning and makes the work you put in seem all the more worthwhile.

If university isn’t something you’re interested in, then don’t convince yourself that it’s right for you purely because it’s considered ‘the next step’ . Remember that there are other options out there for you, and so far the CILEx route has been perfect in helping me to achieve my goals.

Damilola Muyi-Opaleye
Step2Success programme

I love the fact that I'm working and learning at the same time as I'm a very hands-on learner. Being able to put what I'm learning in practise is amazing as it reinforces my knowledge. I definitely prefer it this way as I have a guaranteed job and I'm able to get qualifications alongside it.

When I finish my CILEx qualifications I won't have to struggle to look for a decent job. Law is so competitive and training contracts are so hard to get, there's no way I could've turned down the opportunity to accept a place on Fieldfisher’s Step2Success programme. Also, my qualifications are being paid for, so I've escaped the debt of university which is a big relief.

Now that I work full time, I’ve learnt to utilise my weekends a lot more. I still have my evenings, but I make sure I enjoy my weekends as much as possible. I use some of them to visit friends at their different universities so that way I’m not really missing out on the university experience.

Samuel White
Legal Apprentice
DAC Beachcroft

SamuelI have lived by myself since I was 16, and funded myself through college. I worked to pay my rent whilst studying full time.

I was always unsure if I wanted to go to university, the CILEx route was a really good alternative. I am now working in a large international law firm whilst gaining a professional qualification. This is incredible because the competition for placements through the traditional route is fierce.

During my first few months of employment, I assisted on several matters for our large insurer clients. I am given a wide variety of tasks covering all aspects of a claim. I have also been given the opportunity to work with more senior colleagues on high value cases, to gain invaluable experience on how to deal with complex issues that can arise during a claim.

I would definitely recommend to anyone who is considering a career in law, to consider the Legal Apprentice route via CILEx. I have bypassed the need for university and gained priceless legal experience.

Leah Harrop
Legal Services Apprentice
Horwich Farrelly Solicitors

Once I discovered my interest in law, I did worry as I thought university was a necessity. Being away from home, lectures and student loans weren’t appealing so when I came across the idea of a Legal Services Apprenticeship, I decided this was the right route for me. I liked the idea of earning a salary whilst gaining nationally recognised qualifications that would cost thousands if I were to go to university.

Horwich Farrelly were not advertising for an apprentice so I wrote to the Chief Executive and informed them of the programme. Two months down the line, I was at my very own desk with my very own telephone!

I am a few months into my apprenticeship now and I am already a much more confident person. This is due to the knowledge I have gained but also because I am communicating with so many different people.

I have been told that I will be handling my own case load very soon, which is great! To be given the opportunity to be trusted with my own files is a huge achievement.