My journey to becoming a lawyer

Paralegal Gillian Coyle looks forward to a new chapter in her career as she starts her Law Degree

I am really looking forward to starting the Law Degree at Glasgow University this month. I am excited about the prospect of meeting new people and achieving new goals. My colleagues at MacDonald Lynch encouraged me to apply for the course and I will continue to work part time for the firm during term time.

After leaving school, I was never very sure about what I wanted to do so I decided to acquire as much work experience as possible. I had a variety of jobs. I worked as a duty manager in a supermarket and as a cashier in a bank before deciding to pursue a career in the legal sector. Working in different jobs has been good for building a range of skills. It has given me the confidence to deal with clients, think on my feet and gave me time to consider which career was right for me in the long term.

Whilst working in a law firm, I have dealt with cases that pose all kinds of issues. The work is challenging but deeply rewarding. It has taught me the importance of accuracy and organisation. I have enjoyed the challenge of completing my Paralegal training while I worked. I feel this has allowed me to have a greater understanding of the practical side of the legal profession, which will no doubt assist me through my learning at university. It has also allowed me to develop a good routine, to allow time for work and studying.

I get a buzz from helping clients and receiving good feedback. It has helped me to discover my ambition to study the LLB and to become a qualified solicitor. Going to university will teach me the theory behind the law and the reason why things are done in a certain way. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do this whilst working part time in the legal profession.

In my first year, I will be studying a wide range of topics including constitutional law, family law and criminal law. There will be a lot of case law, statutes and legal terminology which I will need to get my head around. Given the pandemic, I was a little concerned that my entire course would be online and that I would not receive the full university experience. However, it appears that the course will involve blended learning with half the course taught online and the rest involving tutorial work in small groups. Hopefully the social events will pick up over the coming months too!

I think family law will be quite interesting. At present, I have assisted in drafting separation agreements, wills and powers of attorney. I am looking forward to learning more about the rights of family members, particularly children. Constitutional Law should also be pretty relevant given the ongoing debate about independence and the issues surrounding Brexit! I’m excited to get the chance to explore other areas of law and build on my existing knowledge of conveyancing.

I would encourage anyone who has an interest in a career in law, whether that be as a legal secretary, paralegal or solicitor, to go for it! It can be a highly enjoyable workplace and a great field for anyone to gain new skills. The opportunities within this sector are endless. Some people might be put off by stuffy old fashioned lawyers and their strict office regimes, but I can assure you, not all solicitors are like that. There is of course a serious side to working within the legal profession, but you are allowed to have fun and enjoy your work at the same time.

The next few years will be challenging. But the team at MacDonald Lynch have been so supportive, encouraging me along the way and giving me the confidence to believe in myself.

I can’t wait to get started.

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