Archive for August, 2014

HOW TO QUALIFY AS A SOLICITOR

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I am a Personal Injury Solicitor at Personal Injury Pal which is the Personal Injury Department of Coley & Tilley Solicitors, Birmingham.

Helen Powell, Personal Injury Pal, Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham

My aim is to offer a step-by-step guide on “how to qualify as a solicitor.”

My background

I first decided I wanted to be a solicitor when I was giving evidence for the prosecution in a Magistrates’ Court.  I was in awe of the criminal solicitor who was vigorously defending his client.  I knew immediately that I wanted to pursue a career in law as a solicitor.

I have never been a criminal solicitor because of the unsociable hours which would have been impossible as my children were only young at the start of my training.

It was a struggle for me to complete the route necessary to qualify as a solicitor.  Not only did I have young children, but I also worked. Firstly, I completed my law degree which I did part-time.  Then the legal practice course and finally the relevant training before reaching my ultimate goal:- I was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in August 2005!

I have worked in personal injury since the Year 2000 only diverting once for one year when I trained in family law.

I do enjoy my job and have no regrets, although it is a tough career with plenty of challenges thrown into the mix, usually on a daily basis.  I meet clients most days, the phone never seems to stop ringing and then it’s back to the paperwork. There are decisions to be made, problems to solve, all of which require you to take the occasional risk.  I negotiate settlements and there is nothing more rewarding than at the end of the personal injury claim than handing my client a cheque for compensation for their injuries.  I do attend court, but it is less likely if you are a personal injury solicitor, than say if you are a family or criminal solicitor. I am also becoming more involved in marketing, including digital marketing.

THE DIFFERENT ROUTES ON HOW TO QUALIFY AS A SOLICITOR

The Law Graduate Route to qualify as a solicitor

  1. Degree in Law* (3 years full time)
  2. Legal Practice Course* (1 year full time)
  3. Training Contract** (2 years in practice based training)
  4. Professional Skills Course (12 days tuition whilst in practice based training)
  5. Admission to Roll – Qualified Solicitor     (6 years altogether)

*Part-time courses available.

**Training Contract –The Solicitors Regulations Authority have now published guidance (July 2014) allowing paralegals who have passed a legal practise course to qualify as solicitors without having to complete a formal training contract.  The SRA has stressed that the equivalent means of training will be no less rigorous.

The Non-Law Graduate Route to qualify as a solicitor

  1. Degree in any subject*(3 years full time)
  2. Graduate Diploma in Law* (1 year full time)
  3. Legal Practice Course* (1 year full time)
  4. Training Contract** (2 years in practice based training)
  5. Professional Skills Course (12 days tuition whilst in practice based training)
  6. Admission to Roll – Qualified Solicitor     (7 years altogether)

*Part-time courses available.

**Training Contract –The Solicitors Regulations Authority have now published guidance (July 2014) allowing paralegals who have passed a legal practise course to qualify as solicitors without having to complete a formal training contract.  The SRA has stressed that the equivalent means of training will be no less rigorous.

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) Route to qualify as a solicitor

Member Route

(No period of qualifying legal employment is required – but you need a training contract)

  1. CILEX exams undertaken
  • CILEX Level 3 Certificate in Law and Practice
  • CILEX Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice
  • CILEX Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice
  • (4 years part-time usually whilst gaining employment experience in legal work)
  1. Graduate Member of CILEX
  2. Legal Practice Course* (Usually employed and would probably opt for part-time 2 years)
  3. Training Contract** (2 years in practice based training)
  4. Professional Skills Course (12 days tuition whilst in practice based training)
  5. Admission to Roll – Qualified Solicitor     (8 years altogether)

*Full time courses available.

**Training Contract –The Solicitors Regulations Authority have now published guidance (July 2014) allowing paralegals who have passed a legal practise course to qualify as solicitors without having to complete a formal training contract.  The SRA has stressed that the equivalent means of training will be no less rigorous.

Fellowship Route

(This route involves working and training under the supervision of a solicitor for 2 years after gaining membership therefore exempt training contract)

  1. CILEX exams undertaken
  • CILEX Level 3 Certificate in Law and Practice
  • CILEX Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice
  • CILEX Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice
  • (4 years part-time usually whilst gaining employment experience in legal work)
  1. Graduate Member of CILEX
  2. Completion of 5 years employment experience in legal work, including at least 2 years consecutive experience which falls after the completion of CILEX Level 6 exam
  3. Fellowship of CILEX
  4. Legal Practice Course* (Usually employed and would probably opt for part-time 2 years)
  5. Professional Skills Course (12 days tuition whilst in practice based training)
  6. Admission to Roll – Qualified Solicitor     (8 years altogether)

*Full time courses available.

Graduate “Fast Track” Diploma Route

(Exempt training contract)

  1. Law Degree (3 years full time)
  2. Graduate “Fast Track” Diploma* (Usually employed and would probably opt for part-time 2 years)
  3. Graduate Member of CILEX
  4. Completion of 5 years employment experience in legal work, including at least 2 years consecutive experience which falls after the completion of Graduate “Fast Track” Diploma
  5. Fellowship of CILEX
  6. Legal Practice Course* (Usually employed and would probably opt for part-time 2 years)
  7. Professional Skills Course (12 days tuition whilst in practice based training)
  8. Admission to Roll – Qualified Solicitor     (10 years altogether)

*Full time courses available.

(More detailed information can be found on the Law Society website and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executive’s website.)

Helen Powell, Personal Injury Pal, Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham certificate

Personal Injury Pal, Personal Injury Solicitors, Birmingham wish you luck in whatever career you choose to pursue!

We are happy to help with any queries.  Please contact Helen Powell on 0121 643 5531 or by emailing her at helen.powell@coleyandtilley.co.uk

 

A 10 STEP GUIDE ON HOW TO APPLY TO UNIVERSITY – A Parent’s Guide

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I am a personal injury solicitor employed by Personal Injury Pal, the Personal Injury Department of Coley & Tilley Solicitors, Birmingham.Helen Powell, Personal Injury Pal, Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham

I am also the proud mother of two adult children who have both graduated from university.

I am, therefore, well versed on the current process of how to apply to university, student accommodation, student loans and when these steps have to be done by.

I discovered something was missing from the application process; a “Guide for Worried Parents!”

Here is my Guide for the Parents of “would be” students!

Overview

Applying for university is done through UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) where students state their options of what course they would like to do and at which university.  They have to place their choices in order, their first choice being their option they want the most.  Generally, when applying for university, the first choice course/university requires more UCAS points and the second fewer.  The reason for doing so is the idea of a ‘Plan B’.  If they don’t reach their required grades they will always have another option which they will have the required UCAS points for.

Once you have applied to UCAS you will receive either an unconditional offer, a conditional offer or a decline.  If the student accepts the unconditional offer they will be accepted on the course at that university regardless of the grades they achieve.  If the student accepts the conditional offer they will be accepted on the course at that university provided they have met the conditions (usually the required amount of UCAS points). If the student does not achieve enough UCAS points for any of their choices they will get the option to go into the ‘Clearing’ process which commences on ‘A’ level results’ day.  This is where students can reapply for courses at universities which still have empty places.

Timescales

(Assuming your child is planning on commencing university in the autumn of 2015)

Step 1 – Open Days

In autumn 2014 students and parents will have the option to visit the Open Days of different universities.  There will be guidance and information about the different courses, tours around the buildings and student accommodation.  Most Open Days are usually held on Saturdays of which dates can be found on the university’s website.

Step 2 – UCAS Application

The whole UCAS application is completed online which can be revisited at any time.  In order to make the application students will need to submit a personal statement.  College tutors usually check the forms before they are submitted.  This application process is normally done after the Open Days.  The deadline is usually the last day in January 2015.

Step 3 – Offers/Decline

Sometimes a student is asked to attend for an interview or a test (Law National Admissions Test) at the university before an offer is made. If the student is successful they should receive a notification online from UCAS around March 2015 with the offer of a course from the university(s).  As explained above the offer may be unconditional or conditional.  The student will receive offers and sometimes rejections for every choice they give.

Step 4 – Accepting Offers

The offer will come with a timescale when it has to be accepted or not.  If the student accepts the unconditional offer, their place will be secured.  If the student accepts the conditional offer, their place will be on hold until the conditions have been met, i.e. will they achieve the required UCAS points?  Usually the outcome will be known on ‘A’ level results’ day.

Step 5 – Applying for Accommodation

Once the offer is accepted, whether unconditional or conditional, the student should start to apply for student accommodation at their preferred university (soon after March 2015).  A deposit or rent paid upfront will usually have to be paid and may be in the region of £500 which is usually refundable if the student does not take up the offer of the course (but do check the small-print).  The student can, of course, apply for accommodation further along the line but the student may not get their choice (this did happen to my son).

Step 6 – Applying for Student Finance

Once the offer is accepted, whether unconditional or conditional, the student will need to apply online for Student Finance.  The form they will need to complete is called PN1.  Your child has to complete the form and parents have their own individual forms to complete.  The PN1 form is a thick form.  Evidence of earnings/income etc. has to be produced by parents and entered on the parent’s form.  There is a deadline for this to be submitted to guarantee the money before the start of the university year.  The deadline is usually in July 2015.

Step 7 – ‘A’ Level Results Day and ‘Clearing’

This is relevant if the offer is conditional on obtaining the required amount of UCAS points.  My son was able to check whether he had his place at university in the early hours by logging on to the university website to see if he was offered a place.  Usually students will attend college or 6th form for their results, then they check out with UCAS whether they have succeeded in getting their 1st choice, 2nd choice etc.  Students who do not get their grades MUST NOT PANIC.  They can go through the ‘Clearing’ process.  This is a hectic time for those desperate to secure a place at university.

Step 8 – Shopping for Household Goods

Spend, spend, spend as you buy your child’s household goods which will include laptops, tablets etc. in readiness for their move.

Step 9 – Food Shopping

More digging deep as you buy their food etc.

Step 10 – The Move

September 2015.  Complete chaos as you fight to park at the ‘Halls’ and unload and carry the stuff to their room which is usually on the top floor!

The relief that your child has gone safely to university soon turns into worry as to how they will cope on their own and you do get ‘empty nest syndrome’.

Not for long though as they turn up with their clutter at Christmas, Easter and they are back home again in the summer.  Usually they move to different accommodation in the second year so all their stuff comes home with them!

Things were different for me.  I studied part-time for my law degree whilst working and whilst bringing up my two young children.  It was all worth it though as I turn to consider my next client’s file who is claiming for personal injury following their accident in Birmingham!

Disclaimer:- This is a guide on how to apply to university from a parent’s perspective.  Please ensure you get expert advice from UCAS, the individual university or from the Student Loan Company.

 

 

Sunburn – The power of the sun!

Friday, August 1st, 2014

How can I possibly have sunburn? Me of all people? I have sunburn on my lower back!

As I put pen to paper to write my next Blog, it’s not hard to think of a subject:- Sunburn, the power of the sun!

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - sun

To start the story I have to turn the pages back a few years.  A strange mark appeared on my face so off I went to see my GP.  He referred me to the Dermatology Department at the local hospital.  A doctor there advised that it was one of those age spots.  The perils of growing old hey?  Whilst there though they did remove a mole which they thought was suspect, but fortunately it turned out to be fine.

Turning the pages, a year or two later I noticed a mole which seemed to be growing on my arm.  As I had already been through the mill at the Dermatology Department, I was more aware of suspicious moles.  I therefore decided again to visit my GP and routinely I was referred to Dermatology.  To my surprise when I got there they wanted to remove my mole there and then!  “To be on the safe side,” they said.  I opted not to have my mole removed there and then as I faced a long drive, however I was soon back at the hospital.

My mole was removed and I attended for a follow up appointment to get my results.  It was an evening appointment after a long day’s work.  I was kept waiting so long I thought they had forgotten me.  It was a job to keep calm, but after around an hour’s wait I was called in.  Almost immediately the consultant said that cancer cells had been found in the mole, a melanoma. What? Was the word ringing around in my head.  And there was me worrying about being kept waiting!  The rest of the appointment was a blur, but I did establish that I had to have a further operation to remove skin around my cancerous mole.

I had my operation and the skin was removed.  It was sent off for analysis.  It was not long and I was back before the consultant.  This time, fortunately, the result was negative.  The cancer had not spread.

The consultant was really helpful.  I admitted that as a child I did get sunburnt, but this was quite common in the 60’s because people did not know the dangers then. I admitted that I liked to sunbathe which was usually only on holiday and possibly the occasional weekend.  After all, spare time was a luxury as I had a full time job and a family.  I did not think the cause was foreign holidays because I had only been abroad a few times and not for years.  Nor did I use sunbeds.    The cause may have just been walking around with my arms exposed, like most people do!

A page had now turned and things changed.  My consultant advised me to still go in the sun otherwise I would become vitamin D deficient.  He advised me to wear factor 30, to only sit in the sun for a while and never to sunbathe.  And that’s what I’ve stuck to for the last 4 years.  Fake tan is good!

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - untidy garden

Which brings me back to last weekend.  I did not plan to weed the garden, but once I’d started there was no stopping me.  I was out there Saturday and Sunday.  The sun was strong.  My arms and face were exposed, but I had applied plenty of factor 30.  I therefore could not believe it when I realised I had sunburn on my lower back.  I’d been bending over to take out the weeds and of course I had not realised that my T shirt had been riding up my back!  I had been burnt by the sun whilst weeding and whilst I was covered up – or so I thought!

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - sunburn

 

 

Just be careful out there!