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Staffordshire County Council
Annemarie Thomas is a Chartered Legal Executive at Staffordshire County Council and is currently studying a Master of Laws (LLM) in Legal Practice at Staffordshire University. The LLB and LPC graduate works in the Legal Services department, as part of the Education, Employment, Litigation and Pensions team.
“I find working for Staffordshire County Council very varied and enjoyable,” Annemarie said. “What I work on from day-to-day can vary from special educational needs and disabilities to child protection and safeguarding, commercial contracts to school admissions and exclusions, and more.”
Annemarie started working for the County Council while studying at Staffordshire University. She began as a volunteer and progressed to Legal Assistant in the Contracts team, then qualified as a lawyer in November 2016 and progressed to her current role in January 2017. Whilst studying the LPC, she also worked part-time as a Legal Advice Consultant at the University, working on research funding programmes as well as intellectual property rights for student and staff projects.
Annemarie first took an interest in law at A Level, which she completed via distance learning and sat her exams as an external candidate at Macclesfield College, after a break from full-time education following her GCSEs.
She had a part-time job while at school and, after leaving, took a full-time position at a shop selling china and glass ware in her home town, Uttoxeter. She was in charge of customer services and occasionally managing the shop. After four years, Annemarie decided she wanted to pursue her interests in business and law.
“I originally left school part way through A Levels due to personal issues,” she explained. “When I was working full-time, I was dealing with various aspects of the business, and some legal knowledge was involved. I became interested in employment law and health and safety; knowing what you can and cannot legally do in business.
“I wanted to learn more so, one year before starting my fast-track degree at Staffordshire University, I found a distance learning course and then a college to complete my A Level exams.”
Annemarie completed her LLB at Staffordshire University in just two-years, graduating in 2013. During this time, she volunteered with Staffordshire County Council, on the Open Door Scheme, gaining as much work experience as possible. After ten weeks, she was offered a part-time position as a Legal Assistant, then a full-time position after completing the LPC in 2014, and has remained with the Council ever since.
Public and Private Sectors
Now a Chartered Legal Executive, Annemarie aims to complete her Professional Skills Course and apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), after finishing her LLM in Legal Practice this year.
She said: “I am undertaking the same work as a solicitor but it’s regarded differently depending on whether you’re working in the public sector or private practice. It is something I took an interest in when I started working at the Council but I wasn’t very confident in applying for training contracts due to my depression and anxiety, a disability I’ve had since my teens.
“I’m never certain where things are going in future. I’m finding the Masters in Legal Practice really interesting, learning about how the legal business works, what we need to do to improve client care, the different marketing and business strategies involved. Maybe I’ll move into a private practice in future but I’m really enjoying my current role at Staffordshire County Council.”