By Legal Futures’ Associate CILEx Regulation
Emma Johnson, Chartered Legal Executive Advocate, shares details of her CILEx distance-learning studies, Advocacy training, and what’s next for her career…
Can you tell us a little about your legal career to date?
I left school at the age of 16 not really sure what I wanted to do. I enjoyed typing and decided to enrol on an NVQ course in Administration. I joined a training company and had a very short work placement at the local Magistrates Court which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, this ended due to lack of funding. I was then placed at a local firm of Solicitors in October 1997 and really enjoyed the work I was doing.
I was encouraged by the senior partner to consider a career in law. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do that so I decided to complete an A’Level in Law on an evening before I committed to the CILEx course. I completed the A’Level over one year. I really enjoyed the course so I decided to enrol on the CILEx distance learning course straight away. I worked full time so the course was perfect for me as I could go at my own pace.
At the same time as studying, I progressed at work from being an office junior to becoming a fee earner.
I also completed the Police Station Accreditation course which allowed me to represent clients at the police station for a wide range of offences from low-value shop thefts to murder.
I qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in December 2011 and was encouraged to take the next step and become an Advocate. I put this off for a number of years despite being told I was more than capable by very experienced Solicitors, but at the time I did not feel ready.
I eventually felt that the time was right to complete the Advocacy course and I have just been authorised as an Advocate. I am pleased that I have finally done this as I can now represent clients from start to finish in Magistrates Court proceedings.
You attended the CILEx Regulation-approved Advocacy course run by Kaplan Altior. Why in particular did you pick that course?
I found details of the course on the CILEx website.
In terms of course content, what was covered?
The course was a six-day course in Bedford which meant that I had to stay in Bedford for the full week. Leaving my family at home was a very difficult decision for me. However, the course was interesting and the tutor, Roy Morgan, was amazing so it made the time away from home bearable!
The course covered everything we needed to know about Advocacy in the Magistrates Court.
We had to do practical exercises including bail applications, cross examinations and mitigations which were great fun and I think we felt more comfortable as the week went on.
At the end of the week, we had four Advocacy assessments and a Law of Evidence exam which we all commented were not as difficult as we were expecting. The hard work put in during the week definitely paid off as I understand that we all passed the assessments.
Has the course allowed you to gain new skills and/or confidence?
I have spent lots of time at the Crown Court during my career but I lacked confidence to appear in Court myself. The course helped me realise that I know much more than I thought I did which has really improved my confidence.
I recently took a witness statement for a Crown Court Trial and found myself asking questions that I would never have thought of before as I was thinking like an Advocate.
For anyone else looking to attend the course, would you recommend it?
I would definitely recommend the course. I would encourage everyone to do it. If anything, I wish I had completed the course earlier!
The other candidates on the course were in similar positions to myself and we got on so well over the week. Hopefully we will all stay in touch and be able to share stories about our progress at Court.
The next step for us all now is to complete the Magistrates Court Qualification to get on the Duty Solicitor rotas.