Claire Smith is a prosecutor for the Metropolitan Police. Find out how a Law Training Centre CILEx course opened those doors for her.
I was a Met Police Community Support Officer when I first started studying. As there is no progression in this role, my career wasn’t going anywhere and so I decided to study CILEx Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice. I had some experience with CILEX because I did a Legal Secretary course 12 years earlier.
Making the Switch to Online Study
I started studying with Law Training Centre after completing the first year of the course at a local college. As I’d been studying online a lot anyway, it wasn’t a tough switch for me.
I found the flashcards available on the course straight forward. I was able to sit my exams while pregnant and carried on studying through my maternity leave. The beauty of the pre-recorded lectures with Law Training Centre was that I could log in in the mornings and study then. Being heavily pregnant meant it was difficult to stay awake in the evenings. Having them available anytime was very helpful.
Understanding our Criminal Litigation System
I had my ‘lightbulb’ moment while studying Criminal Litigation Practice. After covering the PACE Act, I understood the laws behind the interviews, behind identification parades, all the requirements for evidence. As a Police Community Support Officer, you learn a minimal amount about Law. There’s a lot of training involved and it’s hard to remember it all. As a result of my studies, I knew PACE better than my own Sergeant and gained the respect of my peers.
I’m now a Prosecutor for the Met Police and I present in court for traffic offences, if someone has been caught speeding or on their phone, for example. My CILEx qualification gave me the opportunity to get the position I’m in now. My aim is to complete my qualification and be CILEx Lawyer.
To anyone thinking about doing CILEx I’d say, ‘Do it. Believe in yourself. Invest in yourself and your future.’ I never thought I’d be able to do this. When I first took on law, I actually felt like I’d enrolled on a Chinese language course, I said to my husband, “What have I done?! I don’t understand half of this!” I found it difficult to get into study initially. My Law Training Centre tutors were great. I was particularly worried about studying the Skills units at level 6, but I’d email my tutors and they’d answer straight away. I don’t consider myself as being particularly clever, just average intelligence. But I am very ambitious and as time went by, I did start to take it in and now it is second nature.”