Nykola Shroll-Lee – building experience as well as qualifications to progress career in Dubai
|Nykola Shroll-Lee had been living in Dubai for five and a half years, trying to get a role as a paralegal or lawyer when she was advised that without any up-to-date UK work experience, she would struggle. She says: “It was so difficult to get any kind of job within a law firm there – most of them are magic circle and wanted current experience, up to date working legal knowledge. As I didn’t have that, I was advised to return to the UK and work to get legal work experience.”
She says: “I already had a law degree that I had gained in the late ‘80s and followed that up with the LPC. But my knowledge was so out of date, I had to do the law degree again to bring it into the 21st century. I had to rely on online learning as I was in Dubai, so I studied the law degree through the Open University.”
This still didn’t help Nykola in her search for a role within a Dubai firm. She says: “You need to get a foot in the door, a role as a paralegal. I still needed to give myself more credibility and thought a NALP qualification would help. It was when I was researching this that I discovered Law Training Centre and I have since taken their NALP Level 7 and SQE1 courses. I hope to take the SQE1 exams in July. I’m also starting SQE2 studies in March.”
|Of Law Training Centre, Nykola says: “The SQE1 course was particularly useful as there were weekly sessions on the different topics. But in terms of all the courses I have studied, the flexibility was invaluable because I work full time and was also in a different time zone. Being able to pay for the courses via instalments was also another big plus.”
Nykola was awarded Student of the Month on our NALP courses in October last year, something she is very proud of. “It’s still in a frame,” she says.
One of the things Nykola liked about her NALP Level 7 studies was that it was very broad, giving her greater understanding of areas she had never studied, nor worked in before, like family law. She says: “It was also a good grounding of knowledge for the SQE because that isn’t easy.”
She says the most important thing to ensure success in your online studies is time management. “You can’t waste a moment. I had set times for particular blocks of study and often had to make time in the mornings as I worked late. Based in Dubai, traffic is awful, so I was often stuck in a traffic jam – I’d use that time to read my study notes or a book, do some revision. You’ve got to be disciplined and make use of dead time with revision and reading.”
Having taken the advice she was given in Dubai, Nykola is currently temping as a probate paralegal in the UK.
Nykola said: “When I returned to the UK I was temping for a few weeks and they asked me to stay and NALP certainly helped. It’s so competitive and having a NALP qualification can help you get your foot in the door. Not only that, if you want to climb the ladder and become a solicitor, it’s so much easier to progress once you’re already in a law firm, starting out as a paralegal or trainee. I don’t think that is so much of a big difference between law firms in Dubai and London. It’s one thing reading facts in a book, but in practice you get real life experience that appeals to employers.”
She is planning on returning to Dubai in November after taking her SQE2 and insolvency practitioner exams, and hopes her experience and new qualifications will stand her in good stead for getting a paralegal, solicitor, or even trainee role there.
She says: “I have signed up to various agencies and am hoping that between now and November there will be some opportunities that arise.”