Graduate Member Case Studies

 Michelle Bowen

Michelle Bowen
Dow Silicones UK Limited

Michelle Bowen is a Graduate Member, working at Dow Silicones. She works alongside Dow’s Senior Counsel for the UK, Ireland and Nordics. Michelle had a long-harboured desire for a career in law, but has taken a more unusual route than most to get to where she is today.

After studying A-Levels I joined Kent Police, but after four years as a Police Constable, my career was cut short due to a serious knee and leg injury. I was 25, jobless and worried about the future.

I’d always been interested in the law, and even though I felt I was too old to go to university, I was determined to study and work. That’s when I found CILEx, it was the Institute of Legal Executives back then, and the opportunity to gain a legal qualification while being able to work really appealed. I studied in the evenings at the University of Kent and went at my own pace, it all just fitted around my life.

At the same time, I began work at a health support services group that managed the outsourcing of various NHS services. I started as Company Secretary and became a Director of the business. Unfortunately, due to the privatisation of these NHS services, the Company closed in 2015.

So, I was at another crossroads. I was a single-parent to a 10-month old baby, living hundreds of miles away from my family in Kent. It was then that I decided to relocate to live with family in Wales.

It was an advert for a regulatory compliance job at Dow Chemicals based in Barry that changed everything. It required a legal qualification, which I had, thanks to CILEx, and it was similar work to what I had been doing in my previous role.

A few weeks after applying, I saw it advertised again, but worded slightly differently. So, I decided to take the ball by the horns and called the recruiter, asking them when I could come in to explain how I could fulfil their requirements for the role. At the interview stage I was offered the job there and then!

That was in November 2017. I now work 24 hours a week over four days with three days in the office. I love it. There’s an incredible amount of variety as you would expect from a business with a £48m turnover and subject to stringent regulation and compliance within the chemicals industry.  I report directly to Senior Counsel and together we are responsible for the UK, Ireland and the Nordics. I also work alongside a number of our panel law firms. I’m exposed to all aspects of regulatory compliance and company law, as well as undertaking Company Secretarial duties.  

Without CILEx, I wouldn’t have the role I have today. It’s been a life-saver and it could have all worked out so differently. CILEx has given me a great platform from which to build a solid legal career.

I am now compiling my work-based portfolio so that I can become a CILEx Fellow. Of course, that’s always been part of the appeal with CILEx that your day-to-day work plays such an important part of the qualification.