Alex Hartnoll, Trainee Paralegal
I had been working full time in a role unrelated to law before deciding that I needed a qualification under my belt in order to get a career rather than ‘just a job’. After narrowing down my options, I decided upon undertaking a law degree and began studying with Nottingham Trent University in 2011, studying on a part-time basis through distance learning whilst continuing to work full time. I graduated with a qualifying law degree in July 2015.
I began working for Hegarty Solicitors in June 2015 as a Trainee Legal Secretary and gained practical experience about the daily workings of a law firm. I gradually developed to a Trainee Legal Assistant in the Family Department whereby my experience expanded to attending Court and sitting behind Counsel.
I have recently become a Trainee Paralegal with a view to completing further exams with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to enable me to eventually become qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive. Upon completing the law degree, it was important for me to develop from a graduate in the right law firm and so working for Hegarty Solicitors was of significant importance. The opportunities that I have been given have provided me with a realistic and invaluable insight into the practicalities of law.
Tina Hutton, Case Handler
“I went to Peterborough College and studied Business Administration and achieved an NVQ Level 2. In 2006 Hegarty LLP offered me an apprenticeship and that is where my journey started. I worked in the Administration Team for around a year before deciding that I wanted to become a Legal Secretary which the firm fully supported.
In order to become a Legal Secretary, Hegarty Solicitors offered me a two year Legal Secretaries in house training programme. Within this training I spent time in different departments carrying out general secretarial duties. Once I completed this training, I was offered a permanent position in the Civil Litigation Department before eventually moving over to the Residential Property Department.
I am now a case handler for the senior partner in the Commercial Property Department and really enjoy the satisfaction I get from my job. My career has progressed quite rapidly in the last year and I hope to progress to become a legal executive.”
Angelina Kotowicz-Mietelska, Trainee Legal Secretary
After finishing college at the age of 19, I immediately went into a full-time job and I am still working my way up. University never really appealed to me and that is why I continued to go into different job roles from the age of 15.
I joined Hegarty Solicitors in September 2016 as an administration assistant. I have always liked the idea of working in an office environment and this is partly why I enjoy working at Hegarty Solicitors. In June 2017, I became a trainee legal secretary within the Litigation Department. I am very pleased to have gained this position and find it fascinating learning about the different areas of Litigation Law. For example, Personal Injuries and Accidents is a really interesting area within the firm and there is so much more to it.
In my opinion, starting as an administration assistant was the best option for me as I got to know everyone within the firm and the firm itself. This gave me an understanding of the services we provide our clients with.
I was worried that I would never have a ‘career’ as I did not go to University but the firm has changed this for me. There are many training courses that I can take to help me develop and progress further within the firm and I can still do this whilst working. I know this will be challenging however, I am ready for this challenge. Additionally, I know that the staff will also support me with what I choose to do in the future.
Every staff member is ever so helpful here at Hegarty Solicitors including the Partners who are very easy to talk to and give excellent advice. I am so happy to be a part of it all. Let’s see what the future brings!
Kaya Moore, Legal Assistant
I graduated from University Centre Peterborough in autumn 2015 and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Second Class Honours degree in Criminology. The Criminology degree was fantastic in that I studied a range of subjects such as criminal law, forensic science, criminal psychology, politics and theories of crime, to name a few. It was on this degree that I realised my passion for criminal law and sought to start my career upon finishing my degree. I have found that undertaking a degree that teaches a range of topics that have the potential to lead to a number of different careers has benefited me greatly in that I have a fuller and well-rounded understanding of crime and those who are involved in it. I would highly recommend doing a degree subject that you enjoy and that you want to learn about as this will maximise your potential and ensure the best results.
I started at Hegarty Solicitors in June 2015 as a trainee legal secretary. This job role was that of a typical legal secretary except that it allowed for me to work in different departments as and when required to gain experience in different types of law. This role is suitable for those who wish to progress further and become a fee earner in the future. I worked in family law for 11 months and then moved into the criminal department which is the area of law I wish to qualify in. It was an excellent start to my career as I got to observe fee-earners first hand, understand the way in which a law firm worked and work out what and who I want to be.
In 2016, I started my law qualifications with an establishment called CILEX. This consists of about 4/5 years of study and exams and 2 years of ‘qualifying employment’ - which requires the student to demonstrate their level of competence with portfolios and evidence. I will complete my first year around September 2017 and will have achieved a Certificate in Law and Practice: Criminal Litigation. CILEX Law School provides all the study materials, exercises and exam preparation online and also offers workshops and tutorials. You can study at your own pace, in your own time and there is a lot of guidance and help for students. Upon successful completion of the level 3 and level 6 qualifications and ‘qualifying employment’ I will be a Chartered Legal Executive, which is very much like a solicitor but with a few differences. A benefit of being a Chartered Legal Executive is that you specialise in the one area within which you wish to work. I plan to undertake the CILEX advocacy course within my period of ‘qualifying employment’, and once completed, I will have the same rights and qualifications as a solicitor.
I am now a legal assistant in the criminal department and undertake work such as taking instructions from clients and writing their statements, instructing Counsel (the barristers), going to court to assist Counsel and taking notes, making applications for Legal Aid and many other tasks. I also still perform secretarial duties as before. I really love this job and don’t even mind Mondays. I will likely be a Legal Assistant until I qualify and have the opportunity to closely work with and observe the fee-earners I work for, which for me is amazing as I work for three very hard-working criminal solicitors who are great at their job.
I have been at Hegarty Solicitors now for nearly 2 years and I see the importance of every role in the Firm. From the very important role of the accounts department to the admin assistants who ensure everything runs smoothly day to day, each and every person has a value. The solicitors and partners would not be able to do the jobs they do without the assistance of their support staff and it is essential that a law firm has a good team. I look forward to being at Hegarty Solicitors for the foreseeable future and gaining experience and expert knowledge from all of those around me.