Kelly Jackson, Wills & Probate Executive – Harold Stock & Co Solicitors in Greater Manchester

What was your journey to becoming a lawyer and where you in your career now?

I did not take the “conventional” route into law, which is to leave school, study law, complete the Legal Practice Course and a training contract. Rather, I started working in a law firm as a legal secretary after leaving college at age seventeen. Over the years, I progressed to become a paralegal assisting fee earners and I am now a wills and probate executive. In my current role, I am responsible for my own case load and I have the same duties as a qualified solicitor. My dedication and experience has played a huge part in my career progression and my current position within the firm. I am also nearing the end of my part time law degree with the Open University, which is a six year course that I have studied whilst working full time and raising three children.

Has not taking the most conventional route into law affected your studies and career? If so, how?

Having started my career a little later on, I am older and have to juggle my work responsibilities with raising my children. If I had followed the conventional path, I may have had less responsibilities in my personal life and more time to focus on my studies and career progression. I have had to spread my law degree over six years rather than three years, so it will inevitably take me longer to qualify as a solicitor. I have also found part-time distanced learning to be challenging at times. Nevertheless, I am confident that my route into law has benefitted me massively. I currently have almost 18 years of practical experience, which means that when I eventually qualify as a solicitor, I will have much more experience and knowledge than many solicitors in my field.

What would you say to people who wouldn’t necessary be able to pursue the most conventional route into law and are unsure about whether to pursue a law degree and/or a legal career?

If I can do it, anyone can. It is possible to work a career in law around your personal life. It will be challenging at times, but it will be worth it. I am proud of myself for overcoming the additional challenges not faced by those who enter the legal profession at a younger age and/or via the conventional route.

What advice do you wish you had been given at the start of your journey into the legal profession?

At the start of my journey into the legal profession, I did not fully appreciate the amount of time and commitment that would be required to study law at degree level. I would have benefitted from speaking to someone who had already followed a similar pathway and who had managed to balance a career in law with a busy personal life.

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