A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate is proof that perseverance pays off after taking a ‘longer and unconventional’ route to qualify as a solicitor.
Isobel Mann thought university was out of the question when she didn’t do as well as expected in her A-Levels and started working in a factory.
Isobel Mann graduating from DMU in 2007
But she started studying in the evenings and weekends while working full-time, and nine years later she qualified as a solicitor and continues to enjoy a successful law career.
Isobel is now hoping her inspirational journey will give hope to other students who may not be able to take the traditional route into their chosen career. She wants to tell them: ‘It can be done, don’t give up.’
Isobel said: “There can be quite snobbish attitudes within the law industry as it is still seen as an upper-class profession, but if you are determined to make it, there are options available.
“If you don’t quite get the grades, don’t think law is a shut-door profession; just think beyond the traditional academic route.
“It took me a lot longer and was a lot harder than going straight to university to study law, but I still got to my chosen career in the end.
“If you are determined, you just knuckle down and keep going. I am proof that law is actually a profession that is open to all.”
Isobel feared the worst when her father died and she didn’t get her predicted A-Level grades as she missed out on her conditional place at university.
Instead, she worked as an Office Junior at a battery factory for about a year, carrying out administration and filing tasks. But Isobel never forgot about her dream to become a solicitor so she decided to ‘give law a second chance.’
She got a job as a case handler in a law firm’s conveyancing department to gain practical experience and started studying two nights a week through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.
She became CILEx qualified in 2004 and signed up for a part-time Legal Practice Course (LPC) at DMU the following year. She continued to study one weekend a month for another three years and graduated in 2007.
The DMU course gave her the appropriate knowledge, skills and understanding of procedures and practice. She remembers lecturers being ‘supportive and encouraging’ and said it was a ‘huge relief’ to attend her graduation ceremony.
Isobel said: “It took me nine years to qualify. I worked and studied, I did nothing else.
“It was not easy, there was a lot of juggling; it was hard graft. The studying seemed to go on forever!
“I just kept my head down and remained focused as I enjoyed what I was studying. I kept thinking I’ve got this far, there’s no point stopping half way through.
“I was always working full-time and didn’t take any time off to study. But combining work and study actually enabled me to get vital experience.
“It actually worked to my advantage as I had that knowledge of working with clients and files. I was learning the theory while gaining the practical at the same time.”
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Isobel, 40, has since worked at several law firms. She even set up and ran her own company for seven years from 2010 until 2017.
She is now working at Borneo Martell Turner Coulston in Northampton and is the regional co-ordinator for Solicitors for the Elderly in East Midlands.
Talking about her enthusiasm for law, Isobel said: “I was initially attracted to law because of the justice side of things. You can argue things in a reasoned way and really make a difference to people’s lives.”
Isobel raised awareness of her career on Twitter as part of the #mypathtolaw hashtag, which has been used by thousands of legal professionals to reveal how they battled against the odds to pursue their dreams.
Posted on Tuesday 6th March 2018