My name is Louise Crockford and I am a Chartered Legal Executive (qualified lawyer specialising in a particular area of law) specialising in residential conveyancing in the Launceston office of WBW Solicitors.

Working in the law was something I fell into.  I had no ambition to become a lawyer but when I was 15 just before starting my last year of my GCSE’s, I got a part-time job after school at Peter Peter & Sons solicitors in Launceston helping with the post.  Peter Peter & Sons merged with Langsford Davies on the 1 January 2004 when the firm became Peters Langsford Davies and are now known as WBW Solicitors following a merger with WBW on the 1 January 2017.

I had a placed lined up at Saltash College to study business and finance and to take A levels after I finished my GCSE’s, however, a position came up in the office as an office junior as the office junior at that time was being promoted to become a secretary.  Rightly or wrongly at the time I applied for the position and got it and turned down my place at Saltash College.

Two years later I was promoted again to work as a legal cashier in the office and a few years later a position came up as a trainee Chartered Legal Executive in the property department. Nowadays such a position would no doubt be called an apprenticeship.  After careful consideration, I decided to apply for and got the position which meant going back to college one day a week for four years whilst working in the office for the other four days managing my own caseload along with studying in my own time evenings and weekends.

The first two years of study are set at level 3, similar to A level standard and are designed to give prospective Chartered Legal Executives a good grounding in all core areas of the law and practice.  The final two years is where you study in your chosen area of law and practice and the subjects are set and assessed at level 6, honours degree level.  At this level, I studied conveyancing practice, land law, probate and succession and equity and trusts.

As a lawyer, I still have to undertake CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training as part of my qualification and submit details of the CPD annually to the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in order to retain my qualification.

Such CPD training ensures that as a lawyer, I sustain and enhance my knowledge and skills so that my clients, the legal profession and the wider public can be assured of my ongoing competency.

My advice to anyone considering a career in the law is to consider an apprenticeship role as I have done, as you gain valuable on the job experience whilst earning money as you study.  I had my own home with a mortgage to pay whilst studying, so whilst it was very hard studying and working at the same time it was worth it in the end. Other benefits were that at the end of my studies, I had no debt at the end of my studies and I did not need to find a job. Many of the staff including some of the partners at WBW have also worked their way up through the firm in a similar way.

My role:

Being a Chartered Legal Executive can be challenging but also very rewarding.  There is nothing I enjoy more in my role than being able to call one of my clients to tell I have exchanged contracts or that I have completed their purchase and that they can pick up the keys to that new home.

Buying or selling a property can be one of the biggest key milestones in someone’s life and I enjoy guiding all my clients through the process. Moving home can be one of the most stressful things that you can do and choosing the right conveyancer to guide you through the  process can take most of the stress away, unfortunately the process is not always a happy one especially where there is a divorce or separation involved or where a property is being sold following the death of a family member.

My advice:

Although we all love a bargain, shopping around for the cheapest conveyancing quote can sometimes prove to be a costly decision in the long run, as cheap conveyancing generally means a high volume workload, often undertaken by unqualified staff so as to keep the costs down.

Buying a property is a major purchase with the potential for massive financial losses, which is why I would recommend finding a qualified conveyancer with lots of experience to deal with your conveyancing.  A qualified conveyancer will be able to identify any defects in the title, or issues that may crop up such as planning or building regulations issues. With my qualification and experience, I try to look for solutions, not problems, so as to make the process of moving as straight forward and as stress-free as I can.

If you would like to find out more details of becoming a Chartered Legal Executive like me then please visit www.cilex.org.uk