Feature

How I used the Equivalent Means route to qualify as a solicitor without doing a training contract

By on
54

It’s a tough way in, but for those who want it enough this new way into the profession is a great opportunity, writes newly qualified solicitor Eman Hassan

From a law firm facilities temp in October 2012 to a fully-qualified solicitor (at the same firm) in May 2018 — the route to becoming a solicitor hasn’t been straightforward for me.

I have always wanted to work in the legal industry, inspired by securing justice for innocent victims and making a real difference to people’s lives. But with an industry-wide recruitment process that is very rigid and focused on good academics, at times realising my dream seemed impossible. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. As a result of our traditional recruitment system, intelligent people with different types of skill sets often get excluded.

When I left university in 2012, I knew my dream of becoming a solicitor was going to be a challenge, but like so many young people who study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) I was resolved to succeed.

The next few years was a blur of long hours — I worked full-time to be able to afford my part-time studies — and training contract application rejections.

Thinking back now on how competitive the training contract market really is, I think I always knew I was going to be unsuccessful in the traditional route to qualification. With huge demand for a limited number of places, the task of choosing applicants to invite to interview becomes a sorting process. It often feels like they automatically eliminate you if you don’t have a first or a 2:1 — maybe they do? I don’t know and each law firm will operate differently, but what I do know is hard work and determination will ultimately pay off.

I progressed to a legal secretary and then a paralegal in the Major Trauma Department at Moore Blatch, a multi-specialist law firm with four offices across the South of England. As a paralegal, I learnt about the paralegal Equivalent Means route (EM), and for one and a half years worked tirelessly to build up a portfolio which I had to provide the Solicitors Regulations Authority (SRA) with. This showcased my experience with practical examples of everyday work, as well as the relevant ‘extracurricular’ work I had undertaken. The portfolio was very in depth and a true reflection of the hard work I had carried out over a number of years. I also had to complete the SRA EM route form which sets out outcomes that need to be established, similar to that of a training contract, to show you have satisfied the period of recognised training.

The 2018 Firms Most List

In order to qualify through the EM route, I had to gain extensive experience in three different practice areas. I practiced in education law, the industrial disease department and the major trauma department. My work focused around supporting victims, whether this was clients who contracted mesothelioma through working with asbestos or victims of major road traffic accidents.

Last week, I qualified as a solicitor. It was often difficult working full time with a caseload and assisting the head of the major trauma team. Nonetheless, I persisted by dedicating my weekends to drafting the portfolio, completing relevant sections by certain time frames to ensure that it was completed and ready.

I genuinely wouldn’t say that there were any downsides to qualifying as a solicitor through this route, apart from the fear that I was the first in Moore Blatch to qualify this way! The fear was around being the first and having little idea of what content and quality I needed to disclose in my portfolio. However, I was well supported by my mentor Trevor Sterling and the firm as a whole and now feel that this route is very beneficial as I am now trained and experienced to continue head on with major trauma cases.

I actually found the experience quite enjoyable as I was able to demonstrate just how much experience and work I had accumulated over the years, including the charity work I participate in. It wasn’t easy, and it can be time consuming, often making it difficult to have spare time at the weekend. There was a six-month period where I was in the office working full eight hours days during the weekend. It doesn’t last forever though and if you’re reading this starting from the same point as I did, I encourage you to keep working and follow your own unconventional path.

Our industry is in real need of greater diversification and we do need to change old and outdated perceptions of what makes a ‘good lawyer’. Whilst academics will always be important, so are the practical working skills such as communication, flexibility and teamwork, which do not come from a textbook.

My firm has recently set up an Aspiring Lawyers Group, through which I hope to inspire others who want to find the route to qualification that is best for them — whether that be a traditional training contact, EM or the Chartered Legal Executives route. I was so lucky to find an amazing mentor in Trevor who gave me opportunities beyond my ranking and encouraged me throughout my EM journey. The Moore Blatch Aspiring Lawyers Group will look to do the same for young people across the UK.

Sometimes, it can be tricky to keep faith that success can be achieved, but your passion and determination will lead to something better. It’s important to remember that there are plenty of different routes to qualify as a solicitor and there should always be a helping hand to guide you through the process. The legal industry needs your unique skillset.

Eman Hassan is a solicitor at Moore Blatch

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

54 Comments

Anonymous

“I have always wanted to work in the legal industry, inspired by securing justice for innocent victims and making a real difference to people’s lives.”

Said nobody. Ever.

(49)(14)

Anonymous

This is exactly why they didn’t get a training contract.

(23)(8)

loljkm8

It’s why I got into construction litigation.

(20)(0)

Anon

How rude are you? Pretty pathetic that you have to criticise other people to make yourself feel better 👍🏼

(8)(20)

Anonymous

Says someone who is criticising others…

(9)(2)

Anon

This is the dumbest response I’ve ever seen how thick are you can’t you read a thread properly? Dumbass

(1)(4)

Anonymous

How rude are you? Pretty pathetic that you have to criticise other people to make yourself feel better

(3)(0)

Free palestine

The ellipsis at the end of your statement adds a sense of mystery but it still doesn’t hide the fact that you are a moron. Instead of criticising others concentrate on yourself.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

How rude are you? Pretty pathetic that you have to criticise other people to make yourself feel better

(0)(0)

Anon

Lol who says tart? Except a Palestinian 😂

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s why I got into high yield bond work.

(39)(0)

Anonymous

I have always wanted to work in the legal industry, inspired by securing justice for innocent victims and making a real difference to people’s lives.

‘Said nobody. Ever.’

Said no one normal.

(12)(10)

Anonymous

I helped an innocent private equity fund last week get justice by helping it get a deal it really wanted. It was rewarding hearing about the enormous bonus they got, I felt I had made a huge difference to the manager’s ability to afford that third home in Bermuda, and a new Porsche.

(30)(1)

Lord Dr. The Rt Hon. Alan Harley-Blacker QC, LBB, VC, MD, VD

A shining example to us all.

(4)(2)

Wendy the Victim

😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣😆

I like how you slipped “VD” in there!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Well done Eman. I wonder if your secret wasn’t so much your charity work and breadth of experience, but the fact that you worked so hard that you made yourself indispensable to the partner achieving his targets.

He probably realised that the files were still viable with a more expensive lawyer as day to day conduct.

If I am correct it fudges meritocracy and it may be that the key to success will be working both weekend days for long periods.

Bear in mind there are expressions like “beasting” which describe your career and, it would affect the ability to start a family at a good biological time.

I am a minority voice who likes the love island solicitor, Rosie Williams. Your story lends her credibility when she said she was doing 18 hour days at Just Costs.

Well done, but Jordan Petersen the clinical psychologist on YouTube would query the madness. Present a balance, then, to the impressionable and desperate youth whom you mentor going forward.

(3)(32)

Anonymous

Under no circumstances listen to Jordan Peterson.

(12)(13)

Anonymous

He’s a clinical psychologist and a professor at Toronto university. That has to be a top 20 job in that field. He is also in his early 50s, which is useful.

(6)(9)

Anonymous

Yeah, but he’s also a moron.

(15)(10)

Anonymous

He accomplishes more in a day than you probably do in a year so have some respect. Peterson would comment that competence is very important. So the idea that we should open legal profession by lowering standards on academics would be a grave mistake. Who wants to be served by an incompetent lawyer or treated by an incompetent doctor or surgeon? Professional recruitment standards exist for a reason and that is so we maintain high quality output for consumers. I respect what the author has done in making the best out their situation to work hard and develop a path into some legal industry sector. However, the idea that in the name of diversity and inclusion, we should lower standards is bonkers. Academics aren’t everything but top law firms use them as a minimum floor to assess applicants. You need more than good academics from a top university to get a training contract with a quality firm but these academic standards have to be the bare minimum unless you are exceptional in some other way. And that is for good reason!

(3)(14)

Jordan Peterson

So are you!

(3)(0)

Baron Jeff

Clean your room, bucko

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Who’s the most impressive law graduate:

1. Dominic Raab
2. David Higgins
3. Jared Kushner

(2)(2)

Anonymous

How can Oily Robbins tea boy Dominic Raab even be on that list?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Who is David Higgins?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Joseph Partner’s promoter.

He’s no Eddie Hearn though. Earn with Hearn!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Wouldn’t ever be allowed at Slumber and March

(2)(4)

Anonymous

Eman I send my condolences to you. I can’t imagine the heart break of not working at Slumber and March.

(4)(0)

Lawyer

Never heard of slumber and March. Sounds like you are irate that someone has become more successful than you by going through an alternative route. My heart goes out to you as it sounds you really have a lack of friends.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Legal Recruiter

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

Lord Harley of Counsel

I did this.

(4)(1)

Santa Claus

You’re not the real Harley!

(1)(1)

Lord Harley of Counsel

Cockwomble.

(1)(1)

JD Business Development

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

“It often feels like they automatically eliminate you if you don’t have a first or a 2:1 — maybe they do?”

Shouldn’t really come as a surprise if you read the TC requirements of any decent law firm.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Damnit there’s another multi-specialist firm on the market

Get me all you’ve got on Moore Blatch pronto

(11)(0)

Anonymous

I met a very capable trainee solicitor from Moore Blatch on my professional skills course. From what I understand, they are a decent regional firm that just about creep into the top 100 and have a solid commercial team. I suppose they can’t all be ‘MoneyLaw’.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Also, I’m aware you were mocking the use of the term ‘multi-specialist’!

(4)(0)

#solicitor

I hope you aren’t all lawyers because the narrow mindedness is beyond embarrassing

(11)(7)

Anonymous

No real lawyers read this.

Only law students.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(2)

The oracle

You are the biggest cretin I have ever come across, I’m sure you have a really well paid job to have time to write salty comments towards someone who has become successful. Have a day off you tit.

(4)(2)

2:1 FROM LEEDS PROPER

Tbf I’d rather be on the dole than have to sneak into a shop like Moore Blatch through EM

But I think that we should entertain more opinions on whether the used bog roll is more useful than the 2:2 from Beckett. To be fair to the 2:2, it can be used as bog roll (albeit only once).

(3)(2)

MB BS

Being from a completely different field I find these comments baffling. Everyone knows that within each profession there are alternative means/ routes in. To become a doctor not everyone gets straight A’s and goes to medical school. In fact, in the US it’s a must that you do an undergraduate degree first, so as to ensure you’re not a complete ‘moron’ once you become a doctor. And many more medics in the UK are following suit. Im sure you’d all agree that learning how to save someone’s life is pretty important. Especially if it came to saving your own. So if a medic can become a doctor without a ‘2.1’ degree, I think you lawyers need to get your head out of the clouds and realise that you’re not higher beings.

Now I understand why most lawyers fall under the above moronic category

(10)(5)

Anti-anti-elitist

Medicine in the UK doesn’t have degree classifications. Saying that you can become a doctor without a 2:1 is highly misleading.

The US system of requiring an undergrad degree in addition to med school only proves the point that academics matter x2.

(4)(1)

Actual doctor

This guy must be having a laugh.

The entry reqs. for all UK med schools start at A*AA. You can’t become a doctor without getting into med school, and med school requires good grades. So that argument goes out of the window.

As a doctor, you don’t magically get injected with special knowledge on how to ‘save lives’. You sit down and study that knowledge over several years. Besides, how well you perform at undergrad, together with other academic activities like writing research papers, will have a bearing on whether you’ll get into the more competitive specialisations.

Look, lawyers may only ever have to use the academic skills of a 10 year old in their profession, but please keep doctors out of this. Particularly if your assertions regarding them are either false or deliberately misleading.

(8)(2)

BM BS

I’m a doctor myself. Surgeon actually. And you’re clearly not very in the know. Ever heard of article 14? An alternative way in for people who haven’t traditionally gone through registrar training to become a consultant? The argument here isn’t about academia. It’s about hard work and other means of entering a specialty. You think Eman hasn’t worked hard and studied to qualify as a solicitor? Just because she didn’t get the grades at university, she hasn’t been injected with a magical potion of knowledge as u put it. She’s studied post grad to achieve and acquire the knowledge required to become a solicitor. Don’t write things for the sake of writing them, ‘actual doctor’. Who I bet is an f1. That’s not a real doctor btw mate.

(2)(0)

Free tommy

Don’t see the issue with eman being successful the issue I have is that women are being educated. As you were TR x

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Congrats eman wouldn’t take notice of jealous key board warriors.

(9)(1)

2:1 FROM LEEDS PROPER

However, even though the 2:2 from Beckett can be used as bog roll, ostensibly bringing it above actual used bog roll in terms of utility, it is fairly cumbersome and painful to use. That diminishes the function of said 2:2.

In which case, we return to having to weigh up the use of having used bog roll to scare off the homeless vs the use of having a 2:2 to scare off employers and the academically able. Which type of human would you rather scare off?

(5)(1)

Anonymous

There are so many haters on this thread, it’s quite sad that mankind has become so nasty. Quite frankly I think it’s disgusting.
Just be happy for the girl and wish her well. Do you really feel good about yourself when you put down other people. Have a long hard think about it…….

(8)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories