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What are your long-term career goals?

Once I have qualified as a legal executive, I hope to complete further exams and qualify as a solicitor.

^ Naomi’s route

  • GCSEs.

  • Legal secretary.

  • ILEX Level 3 exams.

  • Currently working towards ILEX Level 4 exams.

Naomi’s tips

  • Be prepared to work hard, both in your job and at home.

  • Don’t give up on studying, even though it is hard work and takes up a lot of your time.

  • Be prepared to be flexible in what you do at work.

Related jobs


Barristers’ clerk (England and Wales)

Company secretary

Legal adviser/Court clerk

Legal secretary

Licensed conveyancer



££ Salary information

Trainee legal executives and legal executives can earn anything from £12,000 to £30,000 depending on experience, qualifications and location. Legal executives working in London can earn in excess of £40,000.

Getting in

  • Most legal executives learn as they earn, combining a job in a law firm with study towards qualifying exams. They may already be working in another role, such as legal secretary, before starting the course.

  • The minimum requirements to train as a legal executive with ILEX are four GCSEs (A-C), or the equivalent. However, many legal executives have qualifications such as A levels and degrees, which can mean they are exempt from parts of the syllabus.

  • Courses can be taken full time, part time, with day release or via distance learning.

  • A trainee legal executive becomes a Member of the Institute of Legal Executives once they have passed all their exams, but they can’t use the title ‘Legal Executive’ for a minimum of a further two years (depending on how much work experience they have), until they become a Fellow (FILEX).


Jobs4u title: Paralegal

^ Donna Traquair is a conveyancing paralegal in Glasgow. A paralegal is a non-lawyer (ie not a solicitor, barrister or legal executive) undertaking legal work, usually in a specialist area. They may work within the legal profession or in the commercial world.

What does your job involve?

I act on behalf of clients who wish to purchase and sell property. This involves working directly with clients, both in person and over the telephone.

^ What is involved when people are buying and selling property?

The work involved in dealing with purchase is different to the work for property sales. For a purchase, I submit an offer to buy property on behalf of my client. If the offer is accepted, the seller’s solicitors respond. Formal letters go back and forth until both seller and purchaser agree on the terms of the contract, and I can prepare the legal documentation.

For sales, a client will contact me when they are putting their property on the market. When I receive an offer from a prospective purchaser, I go through the terms of the offer with my client and complete tasks such as contacting the mortgage lender and ordering the legal searches for the property.

^ Do you have a typical day?

Some days, I am busy meeting clients to go through the stages of transactions. Other days are spent at my desk, examining title deeds, checking copies of survey reports and mortgage offers, issuing formal letters to form the contract and preparing legal documents for the client to sign.

^ What was your route into this job?

Most paralegals learn on the job, but when I left school I looked into a number of courses. A course in legal services really appealed to me. When I graduated, I got a job as a conveyancing paralegal. I find the work interesting and I feel it will provide me with good career opportunities.

^ What training have you received?

I’ve received training on how to operate the case management system, as each firm uses a different system. I am also studying part time for a paralegal certificate, which covers every stage of conveyancing, including how to deal with any problems that may occur in a transaction.

^ What hours do you work?

I work from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

What do you like best about your job?

Buying and selling property can be stressful for clients. I get a great sense of achievement through helping them and putting them at ease when transactions go through smoothly.

^ Are there any disadvantages?

The job does involve a number of deadlines at every stage of a transaction, which can be a real challenge!

What are the skills needed?

You have to be organised and able to prioritise your workload to meet deadlines. You must be able to communicate well with clients and be patient, as buying and selling a house can be a stressful and time consuming process.

What are your long-term career goals?

I may consider studying part time to become a solicitor.

Donna’s route

  • HND in Legal Services.

  • Degree in Legal Studies.

Donna’s tips

  • Work experience in a law firm provides a valuable insight.

  • Try sitting in a court room and observe a case so you know what is involved.

Related jobs

Barristers’ clerk (England and Wales)

Company secretary

Court administrative officer

Court clerk

Legal executive

Legal secretary

Licensed conveyancer


££ Salary information

Starting salaries are in the range of £16,000 to £20,000. A paralegal working for a large law firm can earn up to £40,000.

Getting in

  • No qualifications are required to become a paralegal, although entrants are expected to have a good knowledge of the legal system and legal concepts, especially as some undertake the same work as a solicitor or barrister. Senior or specialist posts are more likely to require relevant legal qualifications, such as HNDs and degrees.

  • The Institute of Paralegals offers its members the opportunity to work towards professional recognition by becoming Certified Paralegals. They have to meet certain work experience and qualification requirements.

  • A BTEC in Legal Practice at Levels 2 and 3 will soon be available at local colleges of further education.

  • Courses in law-related subjects relevant to paralegals are available from a range of training providers, including City & Guilds/ILEX Level 2 and 3 Certificates in Vocational Paralegal Studies.

^ Notary public

Jobs4u title: Notary public

James Lockhart Russell works as a notary public in his family practice, James L Russell & Sons, in Northern Ireland. Notary publics are responsible for authenticating legal documents for use abroad. These documents have a variety of legal purposes.

^ What does your job involve?

Working as a notary public, I have to ensure that the various documents which are presented to me are accurate and completed appropriately for the relevant purpose or jurisdiction. I must confirm that they are understood by the people signing them, or swearing them under oath. I then have to formally seal them.

^ What documents do you deal with?

They could be purchase documents for a foreign property, or certifying copies of relevant documents for people who wish to get married abroad. I also witness documents for use in court proceedings in other countries or for various company matters, such as appointing attorneys overseas or registering foreign patents.

^ What does sealing involve?

An essential part of my work is my notarial seal, which I apply to all documents after I have notarised them. This confirms that they have been properly authenticated. Details of all notarial acts and the identity of the clients must then be recorded in my register, and a copy of all documents must be kept in my notarial protocol.

^ What was your route into this job?

Like most notaries, I am a qualified practising solicitor and notary public duties represent only a small part of my activities. I am following a family involvement as my father and grandfather were also notary publics in this practice. With their support the appropriate application was made to the Lord Chancellor and my appointment was approved.

^ Why did you choose this type of work?

The family tradition played a part, but I like the fact that the job of a notary public is global and not just restricted to the jurisdiction in which the solicitor is entitled and authorised to practice.

What training have you received?

I have completed formal training as a solicitor and numerous years of practice.

^ What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the spread of expertise required – it is different from my normal work as a solicitor in the Northern Irish jurisdiction.

What are the skills needed?

You need to be flexible to deal with each individual case. The circumstances of the people or company involved are usually quite different.

James’s route

  • Degree in Law (LLB).

  • Law Society examinations.

  • Law Society of Northern Ireland qualified solicitor.

James’s tips

  • Find an interest in whatever matters arise.

  • Learn to be patient in your work.

Related jobs


Company secretary

Legal executive

Licensed conveyancer

Patent agent


££ Salary information

The Law Society recommends minimum starting salaries of £14,450 in the regions and £16,200 in London, but the larger commercial firms tend to offer higher salaries. A typical salary at senior level, or for those with experience, is £50,000.

Getting in

  • There are about 1,000 notaries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The vast majority are also qualified solicitors.

  • All candidates who wish to become notaries must either have a law degree or be qualified as solicitors or barristers. They must then complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Notarial Practice, which is offered by the Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. In Scotland all notaries must be qualified solicitors.

  • The work of notaries is regulated by an organisation called the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. All notaries must renew their practicing certificates each year by showing they have followed the strict rules set down by this office.

^ Further reading (Some may be priced)

Careers in the Law – Kogan Page

Chambers Student Guide – Chambers and Partners

The Graduate – For careers in Law – The Graduate Group

Hobsons Law Casebook – Hobsons

Law Uncovered – Trotman

Prospects Law – Graduate Prospects

Target Law – GTI

The Training Contract and Pupillage

Handbook – Globe Business Publishing



The Lawyer

The Legal Executive – available from the Institute of Legal Executives

Solicitors Journal

For further details on careers look on the Connexions jobs4u website:


Useful addresses

^ The Bar Council

289-293 High Holborn

London WC1V 7HZ

020 7242 0082

www.barcouncil.org.uk or www.legaleducation.org.uk

^ British Institute of Verbatim Reporters

Cliffords Inn

Fetter Lane

London EC4A 1 LD


Council for Licensed Conveyancers

16 Glebe Road


Essex CM1 1QG

01245 349599


The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

50 Ludgate Hill

London EC4M 7EX

020 7796 8000


Department for Constitutional Affairs

Selborne House

54 Victoria Street

London SW1 E 6QW

020 7210 8614


European Commission

8 Storey’s Gate

London SW1 P 3AT

020 7973 1992


Government Legal Service (GLS)

Chancery House

53-64 Chancery Lane

London WC2A 1 QS

020 7649 6023


The Institute of Barristers’ Clerks

289-293 High Holborn

London WC1 7HZ

020 7831 7144


Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX)

Kempston Manor


Bedfordshire MK42 7AB

01234 841000


Institute of Paralegals

2nd Floor, Berkeley Square House

Berkeley Square


London W1J 6BD

0870 243 2308


The Law Society

The Law Society’s Hall 113 Chancery Lane

London WC2A 1 PL

020 7242 1222


The Law Society of Northern Ireland

Law Society House

98 Victoria Street

Belfast BT1 3JZ

028 9023 1614


The Law Society of Scotland

26 Drumsheugh Gardens

Edinburgh EH3 7YR

0131 226 7411


Her Majesty’s Court Service


5th Floor

Clive House

Petty France

London SW1H 9HD

020 7189 2000


The National Association of Licensed Paralegals

9 Unity Street

Bristol BS1 5HH

0117 927 7077


Scottish Court Service

Hayweight House

23 Lauriston Street

Edinburgh EH3 9DQ

0131 229 9200


The Society of Specialist Paralegals

5th Floor

80 St Vincent Street

Glasgow G2 5UB

0141 225 6700


Scottish Paralegal Association

The Law Society of Scotland

26 Drumsheugh Gardens

Edinburgh EH3 7YR

0131 476 8173



Apprentices learn on the job, building up knowledge and skills, gaining qualifications and earning money all at the same time. It is important to bear in mind that pay rates for Apprenticeships do vary from area to area and between industry sectors.

There are different levels of Apprenticeship available, but they all lead to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Key Skills qualifications and, in most cases, a technical certificate such as Edexcel, BTEC or City & Guilds, in subjects such as Business, Design, IT, Media & Printing, Public Services, Sport, Sport & Exercise Science, and Travel & Tourism.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Check out more details at

www.apprenticeships.org.uk (England)

www.careers-scotland.org.uk (Scotland)

www.careers-wales.com (Wales)


(Northern Ireland)

^ Working in law was researched and written by Camlee Associates. With thanks to all interviewees and consultant organisations.


Other jobs which may interest you in law can be found at:


They include:


Court usher

Crown Prosecution Service administrator/case worker

Legal adviser/Court clerk


Political/Constituency agent


This publication has been produced by VT Careers Management for Connexions. If you have any thoughts on the content or presentation, please email vtcm.publications@vtplc.com.

Extracts from this document may be reproduced for non-commercial education or training purposes, on condition that the source is acknowledged.

Other formats

This publication is available in Braille and on audio cassette.

Please telephone DfES publications on: 0845 602 2260 or email: connexions@prolog.uk.com to order copies.

Investor in People

ISBN: 0-86110-904-X

© Crown Copyright 2005

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