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The varied routes to qualification

Joshua Hayes, a Paralegal within our Corporate and Commercial team, is currently following a new route to qualification as a solicitor.

Having completed a law degree at the University of Kent, he has stayed on at the Kent Law School as part of the first cohort to take part in the innovative M-Law programme – a Masters in Law which combines study with work.

Joshua worked with us at CooperBurnett LLP over the summer and is now at university, but still part of our team two days a week. As he says: “Having embarked upon the M-Law at the University of Kent, I have had the greatest opportunity to complete my Master’s qualification, alongside gaining qualifying work experience at CooperBurnett, for my eventual SQE route to qualification.” 

He adds: “This is where I feel that the M-Law truly offers a unique opportunity to students, as within the reading and studying of the law, the commercial and practical considerations of a transaction can at times be missed. Completing my Masters, alongside working at CooperBurnett, has offered me this crucial insight.”

Here at CooperBurnett, inspiring and encouraging the next generation of lawyers is at the heart of everything we do. We don’t just expect our trainees to embark on a single path to qualification, in fact we positively encourage our team to take the route which works for them and this could be around other commitments in their life. As an example, Paralegal Iola Palmer-Stirling, who is based within our Corporate and Commercial team is currently studying for her Legal Practice Course, while caring for her young family. 

Recently we celebrated the fact that Natalie Lai, an Associate Solicitor in our Corporate and Commercial team, successfully passed her SQE examination and is now qualified as a solicitor in England & Wales. She was already qualified in Hong Kong but wanted to become qualified in this jurisdiction as well.

Natalie is not the only member of our team who began her studies overseas. Courtney Kan, a Paralegal in our Litigation team, joined CooperBurnett in March 2023. She completed her Bachelor of Commerce (Bcom) in Law degree at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She then completed her Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP London, Waterloo, as well as her Masters in Legal Practice (Solicitors) at BPP London, Holborn. 

“Everyone here at CooperBurnett has been very friendly, welcoming and supportive,” says Courtney. “I am positive that I will receive the necessary guidance, encouragement and support needed for me to further my legal career.”

Partner Victoria Sampson, who heads up the Corporate and Commercial team, accepted a training contract with CooperBurnett in 1996 and qualified two years later. This is arguably the traditional route to qualification and it is the one currently being taken by Trainee Solicitor, Imogen Fleur, who joined CooperBurnett nearly two years ago. 

“CooperBurnett is exactly the type of firm I had hoped to do my training with,” Imogen says. “There’s a real family feel and it’s clear everyone wants the best for you. CooperBurnett really sees the bigger picture and regards investing in trainees and empowering them as important in the long run.”

Imogen’s also helping to support other professionals in Kent, as they embark on their careers through being a member of interTWine, the business forum for aspiring managers in Tunbridge Wells and also as President of Kent Junior Lawyers Division (JLD).

“Victoria [Sampson] and I both been qualified for 25 years now and, over that time, have witnessed many changes in the law professional and the routes to qualification,” says Partner, Joseph Oates. “I think it’s refreshing that the profession now offers different routes and it’s inspiring to see the junior team members we’ve got here at CooperBurnett really thriving on the paths they’ve chosen.”

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December 4, 2023
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