Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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.

 

 

WE ALL WANT TO BE UP-TO-DATE BEFORE EASTER, BUT CAN THIS BE DONE?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Easter eggs

I would like to boast that I am quite a motivated person most of the time.

Over the years I have fought to get over difficulties to achieve success.

Where do you get that motivation from you may wonder? You can’t buy it in a bottle from Boots although I am sure if you could it would be flying off the shelves!

I guess we all have different paths we travel down to ‘get there’.  Different things that inspire us.

I share with you a story and a saying which I relate to as I travel through my life.

The first is a motivational story which I read on the Internet a few years ago now, the title is:-

‘How to get more work done in a day?’

The author takes you through the last day at work before you go on holiday.  It starts the night before.  In your mind you are thinking what needs to be done.  You jot down on paper the tasks, yes, you make a plan.

You set your alarm early and up you get, keen and eager to get to work to get started.  Nothing is going to stop you or get in your way.

Sometimes when you want to chat with colleagues they never seem interested, but this day everyone wants to chat to you.  But colleagues are not going to chat to you today that is for sure!

You lock yourself away in your office and you are off. Some days that difficult job sits in the corner of your room with a blue nuclear glow coming from it.  Not today – it is worked on and done before you know it.  You continue moving swiftly through your tasks.  Answers to difficult problems are there straight away. You have confidence, energy, and motivation.

As your working day draws to an end, you put a final spurt on.  Then the clock strikes the hour and you’re done.  Done in, but done. Wow, off on holidays now.  What a feeling.

So what is the moral of the story?  Treat every day like it’s the day before your holiday and you will get more work done! You will achieve more than your competitors and you will succeed!

The second is the saying:-Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Daffodils

‘Give me a child at 7 and I will give you the man’

By the time I heard this saying I was a solicitor, but always wanted to teach as well.

I then had the opportunity of fulfilling my ambition by teaching.  I taught law part-time in the evenings to adult students.

One day the lady in charge of employing me threw a summer barbecue and it was whilst I was there that the conversation turned to the saying “Give me a child at 7 and I will give you the man”.  I had not heard of it and it was explained to me.   In a nutshell, whatever a child is doing at 7 is likely the occupation they will do as an adult.  So true in my case.  I used to line my teddies along the bed, take the register and give them papers and pens so they could do their work!

Which brings me to my own daughter who is very keen on taking a trip to Japan. I was recently chatting to her about the saying, ‘Give me a child at 7 and I will give you the man,’ and how it was true in my case, to which she replied, “Well that makes sense at 7 I was playing with tamagotchi’s!”

(Just to remind you they were the virtual pets created by the Japanese which us mums had to take to work with us to feed whilst our kids were at school!)

If you have any quotes which have inspired you please share with us.

Happy Easter from Personal Injury Pal, Personal Injury Solicitors, Birmingham

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Easter bunny

 

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Personal Injury Lawyer

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Another Blog to write, a blank page, what can I write about today?  I do like to read Blogs about what people in other professions do on a day to day basis, so maybe people may like to read about what we do, or maybe not!

The alarm buzzes at 5.30am.  I hit the snooze button for five and then get up.  It is actually 5.30am as my clock is always five minutes fast.  My husband will never understand me.

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Eamonn

The next hour is spent getting ready, a quick cuppa with toast.  Making sandwiches to go.  Catching up with the news, with Eamonn Holmes and Charlotte Hawkins.  Their banter does make me laugh.  Not forgetting the quick conversation with my husband about where the cats are.

Then I get dropped off at the station.  I stand on the platform, same place every morning, it is as if my name is written there in invisible ink.

The journey is around 40 minutes.  Sometimes I chat, if not I catch up with Facebook and read snippets from the Metro when I lose my signal.

I arrive at work at around 8am.  This gives me an hour before the phones start.  I chat to colleagues, yes most of us do start early, another cuppa, then I ensure all emails and messages from the previous day are dealt with.

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Train

A personal injury solicitor runs many cases at the same time.  The skill you need is to ensure that every client is happy with the progress you are making on their personal injury claim.  Your underlying duty is to your client.

Urgent cases do take priority so it is a juggling act most of the time.  Keeping those balls in the air, keeping the tide back.

Sometimes you just do not know where to start.  A good system of work helps.  A ‘To Do List’.

I jot down tasks to do.  It could be writing a statement, reading a medical report or entering the injury claim on the ‘Claims Portal’. We rarely sent ‘letters of claim’ now as the process starts when we enter the claim on the ‘Claims Portal’ which is a secure website linked up to insurance companies.

Interruptions come throughout the day.  Telephone calls, emails, post coming in, colleagues asking questions… You are distracted and leave one job, then start another.

Yesterday an offer came in.  I stopped what I was doing.  I looked at the value of the claim then rang the client.  The offer was good, the client was happy.  I was able to accept the offer there and then.  Accepting an offer is one of the best parts of the job, only beaten by winning at trial and handing your client their damages cheque.

Then it is back to what you were doing before you were interrupted.  You open the file you were working on before, then the phone rings again…

At lunch I walk out in the fresh air.  It is twofold, fresh air and nobody can find me!  My sandwiches I eat at my desk.

As well as paperwork the job entails interviewing new clients, sometimes in the office, at their homes or on the telephone.  You go to conferences with barrister at Chambers, to court for hearings and trials, the list is endless.

Also creeping into my job description is marketing.  Exactly what I am doing now.  I have just stopped being a Personal Injury Lawyer whilst I write this Blog.

At 5.30pm the office closes, but I do carry a work mobile for new personal injury claims only.  On the train journey home I chat or catch up with Facebook.  I have tried reading but I am simply done in.  Occasionally I listen to music.

I do keep fit.  Sometimes I walk from the station home.  Yesterday there were no street lights lit and it was pitch black.  Maybe not such a good idea.   Sometimes I jog.

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Sea 2

Winter evenings are probably spent chatting with hubby, who by the way cooks my tea, watching a bit of TV, looking at Facebook.

The summer evenings are what I like best, a glass of wine in the garden – not too long now as there is supposed to be an early heat wave on the way!

And do you know what?  In spite of all the stress, all the ball juggling, life is good!

 

Time to reflect

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

“It’s a struggle to get through January,” is a post I sent on Facebook when I was asked how things were.  I am sure many people feel the same, but in reality we who live in this country are all pretty much lucky to live the lives we do.

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Christmas tree taken down

I recently took time to reflect on the past – a moment I share with you…

The usual chore of taking down the Christmas tree sparked off a spring clean.  I was sorting through the mountains of paperwork when I came across a note written by my late father – his memory of a day in 1944 during World War II when he was just a child.

He wrote:-

The Flying Bomb Incident

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Flying Bomb

One day in 1944 I was listening to the news on the radio.  The Flying Bombs and V2 Rockets were being sent by the Germans in France toward the south coast of England.

The man on the radio had recorded the sound of a Flying Bomb which had a distinctive tinny sound – unlike a plane.  He went on to say that when the bomb’s motor stopped it had reached the intended target and was ready to drop.

Later in the day I was with my Dad who was talking with the man next door. Suddenly I heard the distinctive sound that I had heard on the radio. I told my Dad that I thought it was a Flying Bomb. I said that if it was a Flying Bomb and it’s motor stopped it would be coming down. My Dad didn’t believe me until the motor stopped.

It fell in Oldham, 3 miles away and demolished a row of houses.  This was one of the few Flying Bombs to be launched from aircraft.

 

This highlights the fear that some children face every day.  Children from around the world whose countries are involved in conflict, such as Syria.

How privileged we are…

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - scene trees

Personal Injury Pal thank Birmingham Metropolitan College

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Jenny North and Kimberley Anderson

Personal Injury Pal, Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham, would like to thank Birmingham Metropolitan College for allowing them to have a stand at their Higher Education Fairs.  This is the third year Personal Injury Pal has attended the Sutton Coldfield and Matthew Boulton Campuses to give some input to students on the routes into the legal profession.

As always, it was an absolute pleasure to meet the students.

We meet new students each year and whether or not they are interested in law, they do stop for a chat, welcoming us as guests to their college.

Thank you Birmingham Metropolitan College.  We look forward to working with you in the future.

(Pictured above) Jenny North, Head of Careers and Employment at BMET with Kimberley Anderson, Solicitor

(Pictured below) Helen Powell, Solicitor, Personal Injury Pal, with Kimberley Anderson, Solicitor

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham - Helen Powell and Kimberley Anderson

 

Mums in the Workplace

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Go to the shops. Buy milk bread and cigarettes.  Go to the shops.  Buy milk bread and cigarettes.

Accident Claim Birmingham - confused woman

I am a solicitor now dealing with clients’ accident claims in Birmingham but not too long ago I was reciting the above ensuring that I did not forget items which I had gone out to the shop to buy

Recent mums may relate to this.  For some reason you have a baby and probably because you have so much new baby stuff to remember, you kind of forget ordinary everyday items like what you need from the shop

My children are grown up now but I do still reflect on the difficult times of balancing being a mum with studying law and later qualifying as a solicitor dealing with accident claims in Birmingham.

On the way into work this morning I read a quote apparently written by a ‘Robert Frost’:-

Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less travelled and that has made all the difference.”

Accident Claim Birmingham - Two woodland paths

I certainly took the road less travelled as I did not study law until I had a tiny baby and upon entering the last year of my law degree my second child came along.

I did fall asleep in lectures and could not answer questions as I had not prepared in advance, but I hid it well.  I used to pretend I was thinking of the answer when all I was doing was saying in my head, ‘ask someone else, please, please ask someone else’……

Although I did have the support of my husband, I still lived my life at 100mph, juggling kids, with study and work and have continued to do so since.

Has the less travelled path made the difference?

I believe that taking the less travelled road in the wood has resulted in me acquiring skills whereby I am 100% committed to my clients when I handle their accident claims in Birmingham; the same commitment I had in the earlier years amongst the chaos of kids, study and work.

If you have had an accident in Birmingham or elsewhere and you are thinking of making a claim please telephone Personal Injury Pal on 0121 643 5531 or 07909 925663.