A thriving legal career thanks to CLS after an accidental introduction to law
James Spargo is a Graduate Member of CILEx. The Litigation Executive feels the knowledge and understanding gained through his CILEx studies have given him an increased level of responsibility and salary than had he done a law degree and the LPC.
How did you begin your career in law?
I didn’t study law at university and I never intended to work in law at all! However, when I was working for First Great Western Railway I fell into helping to defend their personal injury claims – that was my accidental introduction to law! I moved into private practice and the firm I was working for – Lyons Davidson – was ILEX (as it was then) employer of the year at the time and they encouraged me towards this route. I did my research and it looked like a perfect way to qualify alongside my job and other commitments.
How has studying with CILEx Law School helped your career?
When I started out in the legal sector, I had studied a bit of business law at university, but I had no formal legal qualifications. What I know today has been learned either on the job or through the courses provided by CILEx Law School.
My studies have given me an in-depth understanding of the law. From talking to some people, I believe that the CILEx syllabus for each subject area is usually both broader and more in-depth than that taught on a law degree or the GDL. Building on that has enabled me to be the go-to person for advice from both junior fee earners and from people that, on paper, would be considered my seniors.
My employers, The Specter Partnership, have recognised this in terms of increased responsibility and a salary that I believe is above what I would expect to receive without the knowledge gained through my studies, even if I had a law degree and the LPC. They also seem to be more comfortable in letting me handle cases that would normally be handled by a qualified fee earner.
What does your job as a Litigation Executive involve?
I work on injury cases and professional negligence, where I represent people who have been injured at work or on the roads and people who have been let down by other professionals, such as solicitors, accountants and surveyors and have suffered a loss as a result. I also assist people in disputes with their landlords and their employers. I handle the cases from the first instruction to the trial or settlement. I prepare all the necessary documents and negotiate on my client’s behalf.
As well as the satisfaction of helping people, I find law fascinating and I like a good legal puzzle.
What have been the most positive aspects of studying with CILEx Law School?
I like the fact that CILEx Law School are there to help. With some distance learning courses, you get the impression that you are basically on your own after the teaching materials have been provided, but I never got that sense and I always felt that I would have someone there to help if I needed it. I think the course manuals are first rate and they explain things in a very clear and concise manner.
I would recommend distance learning because, although it is hard work and you have to be self-motivated, it’s a very flexible approach and you can fit your studies around work and other commitments. CILEx Law School also provides great support in the form of the webinars and the Student Forum, as well as revision days. You have 15 months to complete each course, so you are not rushed through and you don’t have to take the exam before you are ready.
What are your career ambitions?
Now that I have passed all my CILEx exams, I only need to complete my final year of qualifying employment to become a Chartered Legal Executive. I would obviously like to make partner in due course. However, I would also be interested in trying to increase CILEx representation on the bench.