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Legal Executives - a question for you

(14 Posts)
MotherOfGirls Fri 03-Oct-08 14:27:44

I am currently self employed and work in marketing. This fits brilliantly around my DDs, who are both at boarding school, as it allows me to have all of their holidays with them (20 weeks!).

I have always wanted to work in a legal capacity and have just started a part time ILEX Level 3 course as a way of dipping my toe in the water. If I enjoy it, I will need to find some 'qualifying employment' starting next September. I can cope with losing some holidays, as the girls are getting old enough to enjoy some time without me but I really don't want to work full time, 48 weeks a year.

Is there anyone out there who can advise me as to whether I'm being over optimistic to think I can make this work? hmm

Freckle Fri 03-Oct-08 14:43:25

Depends on what you mean by losing some holidays. If you find qualifying employment, you will be restricted to whatever holiday your employer is offering. Statutory minimum at the moment is, I believe, 24 days, rising to 28 in October 2009. That's considerably less than what you enjoy at the moment.

MotherOfGirls Fri 03-Oct-08 14:53:32

Thanks for the reply. I suppose I'm hoping I may find something slightly flexible.

I know qualifying employment has to be more than 20 hours per week. In term time I'm up for anything up to full-time, but in holidays I'd like less. I guess as a relatively unqualified new joiner I will have to take what I can get.

flowerybeanbag Fri 03-Oct-08 19:31:44

I don't have any specific knowledge of legal executives, but as a more general observation, employment that offers lots of hours during term time and less or none during holiday time is hard to come by. Much easier when self-employed as you've found!

I think you are right to say that at least at the beginning of your new career, you are going to very much have to take what you can get. Once you're established and have demonstrated your worth a bit, employers might consider various options allowing you to have a bit more time off during holiday time if that's something that could work for them, but you're not going to easily find yourself a job that's already structured like that particularly this early on.

Good luck with your new career, very exciting to be making such a big change!

mumoverseas Sat 04-Oct-08 13:34:01

I am a legal executive and have to say I found it very hard to get my first 'in' to qualifying employment. I had to work in a field I didn't want to specialise in and was travelling for around 3 hours a day to and from work. this was however 15 years ago now and I did find it easier once I'd got more experience/qualifications under my belt. As flowerybeanbag has quite rightly said, you will have to take what you can get and be realistic. There are very few openings for trainee solicitors/trainee legal executives but don't let that put you off. If it is what you want to do, then go for it but just be warned that you will probably have difficulty finding an employer willing to give you more than the standard 4/5 weeks holiday per year. The advantage you do have however (over trainee solicitors looking for a training contract) is that you could perhaps find your first 'in' as a legal secretary (if you can type! - if not, it might be worth learning) and then once you've passed some of your ILEX exams you could progress to a paralegal which would count towards your 5 years qualifying experience. I know the exams have changed over recent years (now level 3 and 6) but when I did the exams it was Part 1 and Part 2 and you had to have 5 years work experience but at least 2 years of it had to be after you'd finished your last membership exams before you got fellowship. Therefore in those days, in reality you could have up to 7 or 8 years experience by the time you qualified.
Good luck to you though

MotherOfGirls Mon 06-Oct-08 09:03:41

Thanks flowerybeanbag and mumoverseas. You have confirmed what I thought.

As I don't need to start my qualifying employment until next year (still 5 years, of which 2 must be at the end of the course) I can spend this year deciding how much I want this and how much I'm prepared to sacrifice to get it. To add to the challenge, my DH is in the Army and so we move house every 2 years - nothing is ever easy, is it?!

mumoverseas Mon 06-Oct-08 12:25:51

hope you have not been put off motherofgirls.
It isn't the easiest of professions to get into but if its what you want to do and you tbink you'll enjoy it, then go for it.
My DS, aged 15 thinks he wants to be a lawyer. I suggested he do GCSE Law late last year to see if he liked it and he did it by correspondence course in 8 months and got an A. he is now even more adamant he wants to have a career in law so I'm trying to steer him in the direction of areas which pay a bit more than I earned in family law! Good luck

MotherOfGirls Tue 07-Oct-08 15:17:03

Wow - you must be very proud of him! He must be very motivated - and bright!

I'm not put off but it is always difficult balancing wants and needs within a family, isn't it? Also, I find it almost impossible to imagine not spending most of the holidays with my DDs as I don't see them for 3 weeks at a time during term time. On my deathbed, I would rather regret never qualifying in Law than regret missing out on time with my girls. I probably can't have it all!

RibenaBerry Tue 07-Oct-08 15:39:02

As others have said, any job other than education or self-employment is difficult to get term-time hours.

The one thing I can say is that, in some areas of practice, the summer is normally a quiet period. You would be really pushing it to get longer holidays Christmas and Easter, as the end of the calendar and financial year tend to be busy times in most areas of practice. However, in a lot of the more financial/commercial areas of law, August is dead. I've heard that the same can be true in private client work (for high net worth individuals - they're all off on their yachts). I am not sure what area you are thinking of specialising in, but I would bear this in mind as you go through your training and ask when the busy and quiet times are.

MotherOfGirls Tue 07-Oct-08 16:41:17

Thanks, RibenaBerry. I don't know which area I'm headed for yet, so that's a really useful tip!

RibenaBerry Tue 07-Oct-08 17:13:32

It's something I never realised to think about when doing my training contract, but it's something I always say to trainees who I mentor now. Look carefully at the working patterns of others in the department when you are training. Are they project based, with the opportunity for 'down time' in between? Are there busy and quiet seasons? Are the deadlines short or longer (longer deadlines = more scope for flexible working generally)? Then apply that information to how you want your life to look in years to come.

MotherOfGirls Wed 08-Oct-08 07:37:20

They are lucky to have you as their mentor! It's hard to think of things like that in the early days of your career - I guess that's why so many of us end up chopping and changing careers and retraining. I started my career in the Army but wouldn't consider that now I have children as the commitment is too great.

Thanks again for the advice. I will have to think long and hard over the next year about the direction I want to take. There is a danger my DDs will be grown up and I'll still be doing something I don't really love but on the other hand, I have something flexible and well-paid that many (including my DH)think I'd be mad to leave. I suppose it's a nice problem to have!

mumoverseas Wed 08-Oct-08 10:23:22

MotherofGirls, yes, he is very motivated and bright. He is also an argumentative little git and very arragant at times so I think he may make a very good barrister! (no offence to any barristers reading!)
Also, following up from RibenaBerry's good advice, family law is quiet in the summer and christmas (everyone playing happy families and off on hols together) However, statistically, the busiest time for new clients for family advice/divorce is september and January. (having spent a few weeks with partners a lot realise they don't like them!)

MotherOfGirls Thu 09-Oct-08 08:50:09

LOL at picture of family life throughout the year, mumoverseas! Still, it could help me in my quest to work as little as possible in the holidays!

Went to my course last night (ILEX Level 3 - early days) and despite the tedium of the EU, it is still good to be doing something different, so will persevere for now and take stock later.

Thanks for all the advice everyone.

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