In September, Addleshaw Goddard will welcome a new cohort of trainees to the firm, who will begin the two year journey to become fully qualified solicitors. But did you know that there are other routes to qualification at AG too? 

Offering alternative career pathways has long been important to AG, as it allows the firm to attract a diverse mix of high calibre people from a range of backgrounds. 

One alternative to the 'traditional' pathway is qualification through the CILEx route, which allows individuals to qualify as lawyers without undertaking the traditional training contract. To date within our Transaction Services Team (TST), we have sponsored over 40 colleagues through CILEx qualifications and 7 individuals have since qualified in to Chartered Legal Executive or Associate (FCILEx) roles.

We spoke to some of our colleagues about their experiences of the CILEx route to qualification, including Claire Dyer who recently became the first person in our Finance & Projects division to qualify through this route:

Claire Dyer 

Claire recently qualified into our Banking team

1. Why did you choose to qualify via the CILEx route? 

The traditional route of a training contract didn't work out for me, and after researching the CILEx route I worked out that actually I could qualify a lot quicker. I was set on qualifying into Banking, so knew that actually I wouldn't be missing out on anything by completing a training contract – as I would end up back in this team anyway! I drew up a timeline and presented this to the Partners in the team alongside the information I had on what the route would entail, and quickly got their backing and full support.

2. What did you find the most challenging about the process? 

I think the lack of knowledge about the process was the most difficult thing. The CILEx website provides example pieces of work for portfolios for candidates to look at, but these were all from people at much smaller firms and in departments that lend themselves better to the CILEx route, such as Private Client and Real Estate. I was really worried that CILEx would receive my completed portfolio and not accept a number of the things I had submitted as evidence, purely because they wouldn't necessarily have seen anything like it before. Luckily my portfolio got accepted on the first submission!

3. What have you enjoyed most about the process? 

Being a trailblazer for Banking on this process! The interest and support from the division has been great – I really felt like the team were behind me every step of the way and willing me to do well. I got a shout out at the recent F&P away day for being the first person to qualify via CILEx into the division and immediately cross qualify as a solicitor, and I'm really keen to help others qualify this way in the future. 

4. Do you feel that going down the CILEx route has given you an advantage?

I think so. Qualifying via CILEx has allowed me to remain in the Banking team for the entire time prior to qualification. Whilst some could argue that this is limiting, in that I don't get as much exposure as a trainee would by moving seats, I have actually gained 2 years' worth of knowledge of Banking before qualifying. I've also managed to build up good relationships with clients, as I haven't had to move departments, so this has put me in a good position on qualification, in that I already have some good connections in the local market.

Victoria Matthie

Victoria qualified into our Commercial team last year.

1. Why did you choose to qualify via the CILEx route?

I originally applied to go down the training contract route, , but unfortunately I had missed the deadline.

The alternative was to qualify through CILEx – which took the same amount of time. As well as that, I was paralegaling in the commercial team, a team I knew I wanted to qualify into, and going down this route allowed me to stay within that team throughout the process.

2. What did you find most challenging about the process? 

The process itself was fine, but I found it hard demonstrating all of the CILEx outcomes because of the nature of the work I did as a paralegal. At the time, the CILEx route seemed more geared towards someone who managed their own caseload, for example an embedded estate paralegal, so it was hard to evidence that I was able manage matters when working on larger transactions. 

The great thing about the process was that it challenged me to ask for a breadth of work with more responsibility and with Associate help I was able to find the work I needed to tick off the relevant boxes.

3. What did you enjoy the most about the process?

The challenge and being pushed out of my comfort zone. I had to have more difficult conversations with senior members of the team which is not necessarily something I would have done had I gone down the traditional training contract route. 

I learnt to be bold and spoke to people I never would have, which gave me a huge confidence boost. It's important to be confident in your own abilities as you need to demonstrate your value to the team you want to qualify into.

4. Do you feel that going down the CILEx route has given you an advantage?

The CILEx route allowed me to gain a huge amount of experience and knowledge from the team I wanted to qualify into over a long period of time. Over a number of years I was able to grow relationships with various associates, managing associates, legal director and partners across the offices as well as establish relationships with key clients.