Charlotte Cole

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Charlotte is a Senior Paralegal in the private client department of a medium-sized law firm. She has predominately worked in the private client sector for the last 7- 8 years.

 Background:

  1. Can you tell us about your current role and why you’re pursuing qualification at this point in your life?

I am currently working as a Senior Paralegal in the private client department of a medium-sized law firm. I have predominately worked in the private client sector for the last 7- 8 years and it is certainly the area of law I most enjoy.

I have decided to pursue qualification now as the time felt right. I want to progress and eventually take the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners ( STEP) exams, but wanted to overcome the hurdle of qualifying as a solicitor first. During the pandemic, I worked in litigation for a while, and missed private client work, which made me more motivated to get qualified to progress my career.

  1. Why did you choose the CILEX route initially?

When I started down the CILEX route, it was because I was employed full time and wanted to study around work. At that time, the other option was the LPC, and I knew from having worked at firms that it was very competitive to try and get a training contract. Becoming a solicitor didn’t feel attainable at the time but I wanted to qualify while working, and the CILEX route allowed me to.

SQE:

  1. What made you choose the SQE?

 It was a combination of things. Before I went on maternity leave, I  sat all my CILEX exams and had my relevant work experience signed off. But when I came back and started my current role, ready to continue the qualification, the updated CILEX requirements meant I needed to re-complete the work experience element I had already done.

With the encouragement and support of my current firm, I decided I wanted to ultimately be able to call myself a solicitor, and decided to do the SQE as opposed to continuing down the CILEX route. 

  1. What do you think about the introduction of the SQE?

I think it is great. As above, I was always put off qualifying as a solicitor because of the requirement to do a training contract, so for me it is much more appealing in the SQE format.

  1. Has it made qualification a more viable option for you?

Yes, it is now much more possible for me to continue my studies in this way, as I already have many years of experience carrying a full case load and I would not have wanted to undertake a training contract at this point in my career.

Course:

  1. Why did you choose BARBRI? And how did you hear about BARBRI? 

I was aware of BARBRI through friends and compared it to other course providers and decided it was the best fit for me.

  1. How did the SQE1 course fit in with the rest of your busy schedule?

I made it fit but I had to be strict with myself. There were evenings that were easier for me to study in, so I tried to do more on those nights so that I could keep my weekends relatively clear to spend with my family. I did also rely on cramming in my lunch breaks!

  1. How did you find the SQE1 prep course? What was best about it?

I liked how structured it was, you knew what was expected of you on a weekly or daily basis. I found the “traffic light” system of knowing if you were on schedule (or ahead of). It is such a vast course, I needed the structure to keep me on track.

  1. You’re now doing SQE2. How are you finding it so far?

So far, so good! It is different to SQE1, still broken down into the weekly workload, but I am more confident this time around as I know a little more of what to expect and I am already in “study mode”.

Career:

  1. What are your plans after qualification?

I want to carry on working in the private client sector, and I would like to go on to take further qualifications in that area.

  1. Have you completed your QWE? If yes, where?

I haven’t formally had it signed off, but I have been fee earning since around 2016 and will be looking to get this signed off shortly.

  1. What’s the ultimate career goal?

To qualify as a solicitor and ultimately become a specialist in private client.

Additional questions:

  1. What support, if any, are you receiving from your firm?

They are very encouraging, particularly the head of my department. She says that I have done this job for too long to still be held back by a lack of qualifications.

  1. What is the one thing that makes you nervous/excited about pursuing this?

Balancing work and home and study, especially with one child under five and another on the way! But I am excited to be able to call myself as a solicitor as I finished my degree 10 years ago and want to be able to go further in my career.

  1. What advice do you wish you’d received? Any tips for future students? Things to note?

Follow the PSP! It is structured for a reason and it really does work, it will keep you on track and days off are built in (and can be moved around to fit your schedule). If you are working – ask questions. Other people in other departments may be able to explain a concept to you that you are struggling to absorb without understanding the practical implications.

The SQE2 with BARBRI

SQE2 Prep funding guide

Can paralegals practice law?

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