Becoming an in-house solicitor: Emma Lilley

The University of Law (ULaw) alumna Emma Lilley is a qualified solicitor who studied the LPC MSc part-time while working full-time as a paralegal. We caught up with Emma to discuss her journey into law and get her advice for students following in her footsteps.

My journey into law hasn’t been the most conventional, but the more experienced I get, the more beneficial that’s been in my career. Studying the LPC part-time with ULaw also really helped with that.

I didn’t get great A-level results. I was meant to be going to university to study music, but I didn’t get in. I was still quite academic; I just didn’t get the best grades. On clearing day, I called around universities near and far to ask what degrees they had available.

I was offered a place on the LPC with Foundation Year. Yes, it was an extra year, but it meant I was in. I was accepted and said yes, bearing in mind I had no ambition to be a lawyer; I had no idea what the career path entailed. I don’t think people know as much as they could about the degree and the path into law because it’s quite complicated. This is why I wanted to explain the in-house route now.

I started to really enjoy it, I began to see the benefits of the degree and this career path, but I still didn’t know how I’d fit into it. Then I learnt about applying for training contracts in the second year. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a lawyer, never mind applying for training contracts; this is where my gap year came in.

The job I was working in part-time while studying for my UG law degree was setting up a new business venture in Australia and I applied to go. What an amazing experience. I wasn’t set into the routine of having to have a training contract by a certain year or be qualified by a specific date; it allowed me that freedom. I was still thinking – am I going to be left behind everyone else? But I am so glad I went; it was the best decision I ever made. You have so many years to work in law, and I know it’s difficult now and we can’t all take gap years and work abroad. Hopefully, we can soon. But if you get any opportunities to broaden your horizons in any way, please do consider it.

While working, I discovered the in-house side of law. I was working on a Saturday and somebody mentioned to me that the lawyer for the company was in the office. I didn’t think it made sense as I didn’t think the company had lawyers. But it was true, they did. I knocked on his door, had a meeting with him and talked about all things law. This whole new world was opened to me. In-house is a lot more flexible and the ULaw course that I did really complemented the route that I wanted to take. I did the LPC MSc part-time at the weekends while working full-time in a paralegal role; it slotted together well.

Working during the week and studying at weekends was hard, I can’t lie. I think it’s tough no matter which way you do it, but the way to make it manageable is to prioritise your time. Arrive at the office early, get all your revision in and stay up to date with paperwork.

I had so many doubts before I qualified. I didn’t have great A-level results; I didn’t think I’d fit in. I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a lawyer. I just followed what I enjoyed and pushed for what I believed in. I believed in myself and created my own path.

Find out how you, too, can set yourself up for success with a law qualification from The University of Law.