Stuart graduated with a law degree and hoped to continue onto the LPC. But funding and debts stood in the way. The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) offered an alternative route
After graduating I started working in property law and then changed to consumer contract litigation. My employer agreed to fund the CILEx Graduate Fast-Track Diploma (GFTD) and after completing my qualifying employment I qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer.
I went on to supervise a busy contract litigation team, dealing with consumer and commercial disputes including domestic building projects, holiday claims and dodgy car deals.
In 2013 I was able to make the move to a senior role at DAS Law, where I have the opportunity to help business development as well as my commercial and consumer disputes.
The practical approach and content of CILEx learning has really benefited me in developing a practical and technical expertise in the area. My day-to-day work is exactly the same as any solicitor. I'm valued as an equal at my firm and many of the large commercial firms have the same attitude.
My qualifying employment for CILEx qualification was taken into account by a lot of firms that I interviewed for, which gave me an advantage over any newly qualified solicitors that they were considering and meant that I was open to legitimately applying for roles requiring up to five years' Post-Qualified Experience (PQE) and not just Newly Qualified (NQ) roles.
Outside of my job, I also guest lecture at the University of Gloucestershire in contract law and give general talks to the law students about their next steps and career progression, where I really recommend graduates consider the benefits of CILEx qualification.
I would advise anyone to seriously consider the CILEx route and take a practical look at your options. The ratio of training contracts to applicants is ridiculous, and non-qualified staff are often undervalued and underpaid, so you won't want to stay at that level for long. The CILEx GFTD and qualifying experience route gives you a more certain route to becoming qualified and will often result in faster qualification than the years you spend getting knock-backs from training contract applications before success.
It also helps to know that the GFTD is a fraction of the LPC cost!
CILEx has made such great progress in the last few years that it's difficult to know where I'll be in five years or so. I'm not adverse to the idea of setting up independently if we get the rights granted, or working steadily toward a partnership at a firm. Advocacy rights and the judiciary are all open to CILEx fellows now so there's also that possibility to consider.
At the moment, I'm happy at DAS Law. We're one of the leading ABS firms and that brings great opportunities to shape the future of the legal market, so I'm very excited about how we are planning to make an impact and set the trend for the legal profession in coming years.