Leah Sharman

Trainee Solicitor

DATE PUBLISHED: 13 May 2022 LAST UPDATED: 30 Jan 2024

Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)

I am a Paralegal in the Banking and Finance litigation department and I have worked at Ellis Jones since 2017. Prior to joining Ellis Jones, I completed a degree in International Relations and Politics and following graduation I worked in the mortgage department at a building society.

I have always had an interest in the law, and several of my modules at university touched on the UK legal system. In 2017 the opportunity arose for me to join Ellis Jones in the Conveyancing Department as an administrator. Given that I had no legal work experience this role was a good foundation for learning legal principles and gaining an understanding of how law worked in practice. I have found Ellis Jones to be a very supportive company, and they have always been willing to support my development. After several months I was promoted to Secretary, before being promoted to Legal Assistant and then Paralegal.

As my experience grew, I started researching different routes to qualification. I had considered returning to university to complete the GDL and then the LPC but after considering my options I decided that by completing a  Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) qualification I would be able to continue working full time, gaining experience whilst studying.

I completed the Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice, studying modules including Contract Law, Tort, Land Law, Civil Litigation and Conveyancing. Although I enjoyed working in the Conveyancing Department, studying different modules sparked my interest in new areas of law and in January 2021 I joined the Banking and Finance Litigation department as a Junior Paralegal. After developing my experience in the department, I was promoted to Paralegal in January 2022.

The SQE was introduced shortly after I completed my level 3 CILEx qualification and after discussing whether to continue with CILEx or complete the SQE, I decided to begin a SQE preparation course. I am continuing to work full time whilst studying in my spare time, and I therefore chose an SQE preparation course with an online provider which provides a lot of flexibility.

One of the differences between the SQE and LPC is that you do not need to obtain a training contract in order to qualify, instead candidates are required to show that they have completed two years of ‘qualifying work experience’ and my work at Ellis Jones to date will satisfy these requirements.

Ellis Jones have been very supportive of my decision to study for the SQE, I intend to sit the SQE1 exams next year and hopefully SQE2 shortly after. I really enjoy litigation and hope to qualify into the Banking and Finance Litigation department.

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