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“After achieving 10 GCSEs, I wasn’t keen to stay on at school. I’d always been interested in the law, but I also knew that spending the next six or seven years in education wasn’t going to be for me. I’m a proactive and practical person and I was keen to experience the real world.
I decided that the best way for me to cultivate my interest in the law was to take a legal secretarial course, which I did at a local college via the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. A big attraction of the course was that it was combined with mandatory work experience. The college had an arrangement with Burges Salmon in Bristol and after interviewing with the firm for a place, I was selected.
The work experience gave me a proper feel for what working in a law firm would be like and I loved it. I knew I had made the right decision and it made me even more determined to find a role in a law firm.
After qualifying with CILEx, I wrote to every law firm in Bristol. I got quite a few interviews, but I accepted a role with Meade King as a junior legal secretary. I am still here today, but now I am a partner in the firm’s residential conveyancing team. It’s been quite a journey.
The work experience gave me a proper feel for what working in a law firm would be like and I loved it.
When I joined the firm, I was working with one of the firm’s residential conveyancers who was a Licensed Conveyancer. I was immediately exposed to working with estate agents, brokers and clients and to the conveyancing process. I liked what I saw.
Less than a year after joining Meade King, the firm’s head of private client told me I had great potential and that the firm would like to put me through training to becomes a Licensed Conveyancer through the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. I have to say it was a bit of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one.
I had assumed that I would need a degree in order to become a Licensed Conveyancer, but after the firm talked me through the process, which would involve attending college and some distance learning, along with plenty of self-study, I jumped at the opportunity.
It took me about five years to qualify, although you can do it much quicker. I wasn’t in a great rush because I was enjoying the great experience I was getting on the job. Plus, all the time I was studying, I was also progressing well at Meade King, becoming a paralegal and running some of my own files with supervision. However, through a period of distance learning, followed by a period attending college a couple of nights a week, I qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer in 2012. I remember the feeling of taking the word ‘trainee’ off my email footer, it was very satisfying.
All the time I was studying, I was also progressing well at Meade King.
A few years later I became an Associate in the firm, taking on responsibility for our CQS membership, training and mortgage lender panels.
This year I am pleased to report that I was made a Partner and am now running the firm’s residential conveyancing team.
Looking back, I know I made the right decision to reject further full-time study in favour of becoming a Licensed Conveyancer. I have a wealth of experience and none of the debt that comes with being a student.
I’ve also managed to forge some strong relationships with estate agents and brokers early on in my career, which has stood me in good stead and delivered new streams of business. I wouldn’t have been able to have nurtured these relationships if I had gone to university.
A few years later I became an Associate in the firm.
You don’t get into conveyancing if you don’t like working with people. It’s essential that you can build relationships. It’s such a big deal for people making a property purchase and is (mostly!) a happy event for them, so it’s great to be part of that.
Yet, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Number one rule in conveyancing is to manage expectations. Clear communication and honesty go a long way. It’s only natural that buyers want the quickest transaction possible but agreeing to a four-week timescale when you know it will take longer is only going to make for an unhappy client.
This is a great career for anyone who likes being busy. At any one time I may have 120 matters running all at different stages, so the ability to prioritise and work in a time efficient manner is essential. At the same time, you’ve got to be thorough and have an eye for detail.
It’s such a big deal for people making a property purchase and is (mostly!) a happy event for them, so it’s great to be part of that.
I do think having work experience helps greatly too. As well as my time at Burges Salmon, I also did work experience at Bristol Crown Court. Not only did this enable me to try out a possible career in law very early on, it also showed real commitment to potential employers.
You can’t think that just because you have the qualification that you’re done and have nothing more to learn. There’s a lot of rule changes taking place in the industry so keeping up to date through continuous learning and training is essential.
As well as keeping up to date with the pace of change, my plan is to grow our residential conveyancing team at Meade King. I like to think I’m part of the furniture now and will be here for many more years to come!
I am so glad I put the effort in so early in my career, it’s really paid off for me. I’m very proud to be a partner in a successful law firm at the age of 32.
I am so glad I put the effort in so early in my career, it’s really paid off for me.