We are very proud to have been able to offer Nicola Haines, who joined us as a legal assistant, a trainee solicitor contract. She has taken a roundabout route to get to this point and also made the decision on a career change in her thirties.
She told us her story which we thought would be encouraging for others who want to make this move.
"I decided to become a solicitor in 2006. I was 33 years old and had worked predominantly in public services. I was working as a detention officer within Worcester Police Station when I decided to re-train and research studying law.
With the financial responsibilities that come with being a home owner, I could not afford to go to University full time, therefore I chose to complete a qualifying law degree with The Open University. Having done the research and enrolling for the course, I had an anxious wait until February 2007 to begin my studies.
With being a mature student, the first thought is that how will I manage studying so long after my school experience? The Open University is geared towards mature students and learners from all walks of life. I found this a very positive experience and felt proud to tell people that I was studying law.
There were times when the ups and downs of life did not track well with studying, writing assignments and revising for exams but despite two family bereavements and my partner being in hospital for a three month period during my degree I did not miss a deadline. I felt this was possibly due to being a mature student and approaching my studies with organisational skills and motivation that I personally may not have had as a 19 year old.
I was immensely proud to be at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester for my graduation in October 2012 receiving an upper second class honours degree in law. There were hundreds of graduates from all walks of life and it was a day I will never forget.
The next stage was to complete the Legal Practice Course, another requirement on the route to qualification as a Solicitor. I had an automatic place with the College of Law, as an Open University Graduate. Therefore I enrolled at the Birmingham College of Law and began my course in September 2012. I was the oldest by far in my class of 18 students and yet this did not have any bearing on my studies.
I completed my Legal Practice Course in May 2013 and received a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice with a Commendation.
The next stage was to secure a training contract in order to qualify as a solicitor. I was fully aware that training contracts were very difficult to come by especially as the legal student media was reporting that the number of students completing the LPC each year far outweighed the number of training contracts available.
During my search I was fortunate enough to attend a two day work experience placement at Kidwells in July 2013. This was hugely valuable to me as I had no previous legal experience other than police procedure and evidential matters. The two days experience was another indicator that I had made a good career move.
By August 2013 I had been offered a position within Kidwells as a Legal Assistant and was working within the family department. This was a very steep learning curve and I was finally immersed in the legal world for real.
I was extremely fortunate to be offered a training contract in April 2014 and look forward to continuing my journey to qualification. I can still remember hovering over the enter button on my computer at home wondering whether I should start a law degree at 33 years of age."