Through the eyes of a Junior Legal PA - how the CILEx helped my career

Published on 11th November 2016

Rebecca Rooke is a Junior Legal PA at Reed Smith. Rebecca completed her CILEx qualification in 2015 and shares her experience of how this prepared her for her career as a Junior Legal PA. 

1. What was it about the CILEx course that interested you?

I wanted to go to college and obtain a professional qualification that would enable me to get my career off the ground.  At the time it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do but I knew that the content of the CILEx course and the work experience that you can gain would give me the skills needed to make that first step into the work place.  I knew I didn’t want to do ‘A’ levels and saw the CILEx on a college prospectus, I googled it and saw articles on former students and what the course had allowed them to do in their career and knew it was for me.

2. What was it about the CILEx course that encouraged you to pursue a legal secretary career path?

When I started the course I really embraced the technical aspects of the curriculum and that really appealed to my way of learning.  As the course progressed I had the opportunity to undertake work experience through my course in Magic Circle and International law firms such as Freshfields and King Wood Malleson.  I loved coming into the City and the buzz within the law firms.  The duties supporting fee earners really suited my working style as I am very task focussed.  Even before my course had finished I was looking for my first role so I could quickly put everything I had studied into practice.

3. Are you surprised at how far your career has progressed already?

I have always been ambitious and felt that I was ready for the responsibility and of course when I secured my role at Reed Smith I was delighted, but I think I was more surprised that a firm like Reed Smith, who attract so many high calibre candidates, chose me!

4. Is the legal PA role everything you thought it would be?

Yes – I wanted more responsibility and definitely have it in all aspects of my role.  With a firm like Reed Smith I know I can add to my capacity and grow and develop in the firm while challenging myself and proving myself to management and fee earners.

5. Did your dedication to horse riding from a young age help play a part in your career?

Yes most definitely.   I am extremely focussed and driven but its hard work and dedication that will get you to your goals.  I also learnt at a young age that there are jobs we don’t like but they have to be done (especially in the middle of winter!).    I also learnt to be open to opportunities, I probably sought out the first role in my career earlier because of this.

6. Do you have any words of advice for anyone considering studying the CILEx?

Do not underestimate the importance of work experience and if your college cannot provide work experience use the skills the CILEx teaches you to secure some yourself!

7. Do you have any advice for someone about to embark on the legal PA career path?

Make friends with business services – they are the colleagues that will help you when you are up against a deadline. For me it’s our accounts team, as they are the number experts and always willing to assist.  Chocolates always help too!

8. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

My Ambition consultant Claudine told me not to set time limits on my career but when you are ready to move into a PA role, be confident in your ability. 

9. Did you ever imagine you would be working in a firm like Reed Smith?

It was always my intention since I started the CILEx to work in an international firm (and this was further reinforced by my work experience) but I never thought it would happen so quickly!

Are you a Legal PA and want to progress your career? Get in touch today to see how we can help!