Chartered Legal Executive - All You Need To Know
A Chartered Legal Executive (CLE), also known as a CILEX Lawyer, is a qualified specialist lawyer, working in England and Wales. CILEX Lawyers have a very similar job role to solicitors: they have the same responsibilities, the same rights under the Legal Services Act in their specialist area of practice, often work in the same establishments, and complete the same tasks. If qualified in dispute resolution, or criminal or civil litigation, a CILEX Lawyer will also hold advocacy rights, meaning they can represent their clients in court. Whilst solicitors might be considered ‘generalist’ lawyers, in practice most solicitors will come to specialise in a particular area of practice in the same way as a CILEX Lawyer. The main difference between CILEX Lawyers and solicitors is the qualification and training routes. CILEX Lawyers qualify through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, also known as CILEX.
Qualification Route For Chartered Legal Executives/CILEX Lawyers:
CILEX is the professional body for paralegals, advanced paralegals and Chartered Legal Executives with a membership of about 20,000 legal professionals across England and Wales.
To become a CLE (CILEX Lawyer), you must:
- Complete the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ).
- Be in qualifying employment for at least 3 years – that is, been working in a wholly legal role for at least 20 hours per week 2 of which must be immediately prior applying.
- Have met the work-based learning outcomes set by CILEX Regulation (CRL).
The CPQ was developed by CILEX in consultation with established legal professionals and employers to ensure that it meets the needs of the legal sector in the 2020s.
CPQ is a progressive qualification comprising Foundation, Advanced and Professional stages. To ensure maximum accessibility, no previous academic qualifications are required for entry at Foundation stage. Law graduates are exempt from Foundation stage and can complete the Advanced and Professional stages to qualify as CILEX Lawyers. Those holding an LPC or BPTC can complete a Professional stage package to qualify.
Upon completion of CPQ, you are awarded the regulated title of ‘Chartered Legal Executive’ by CILEX Regulation, and the title of CILEX Lawyer in your specialist practice area – e.g., ‘CILEX Lawyer (Immigration)’ – by CILEX. You will also become a Fellow of CILEX (FCILEX), with access to a range of membership benefits including educational
The CILEX route to qualified lawyer status offers the valuable perk of being able to earn money while learning, eliminating the heavy burden of the costs associated with studying at university. The CPQ can be studied part-time via distance learning, allowing you to study around other professional and personal commitments, and the three-stage model allows you to progress at your own pace and in line with your career progression.
The full CPQ programme, with no prior academic qualifications, costs in the region of £12,500 and will take 5-6 years to reach CILEX Lawyer status (studying part-time whilst working in a legal setting). This compares very favourably to the costs and debt incurred from a university degree, and the additional costs associated with other routes to becoming a qualified lawyer.
If you already hold a law degree, the total cost would be about £8,800 and it would take about 3-4 years to qualify. Those with an LPC or BPTC would require only 1-2 years to qualify (subject to the minimum qualifying work experience) at a cost of about £2,950.
Why the CILEX route could be beneficial for you:
- No prior qualifications are necessary, but previous qualifications are recognised to provide exemptions.
- No need to secure a training contract.
- Study at your own pace; earn whilst you learn; ensure new skills and knowledge are put into practice as you progress.
- Progressive nature of the CPQ ensures that what you learn is increasingly aligned to your current or aspired area of work.
- Employers like the specialist nature of CILEX Lawyers; the employment opportunities are very strong!
Roles and Responsibilities as a Chartered Legal Executive/CILEX Lawyer:
CILEX Lawyers can specialise in a wide range of different practice areas, including conveyancing, employment law, business and commercial law, immigration law, dispute resolution, criminal or family litigation, or probate.
By completing the CPQ, all new CILEX Lawyers will also have a good grounding in the ‘foundations of law’, including the law of tort and contract law (at Level 3), and dispute resolution, criminal litigation and conveyancing (at Level 5).
CILEX Lawyers have a whole host of roles and responsibilities, equivalent to those of a solicitor. Their work is mainly client-based and as a result, CILEX Lawyers spend a lot of time interacting with clients, defendants, and others, making communication (both verbal and written) a key skill.
The main tasks that CILEX Lawyers have are:
- Advising clients, explaining key and complex legal matters to them.
- Communicating effectively with all parties, conducting effective interviews, providing information/instructions and giving practical advice to move a case forward and reach positive agreements for the client.
- Handling negotiations and managing risk to reach a clear agreement in the clients’ best interests.
- Researching and analysing information to develop legal solutions and where appropriate, using case analysis and theory to prepare for court. CILEX Lawyers will often be involved with the courts and, subject to their specialist area of practice, will conduct advocacy in county or magistrates’ courts. All CILEX Lawyers may attend court to work alongside barristers and solicitors in the presentation of cases. Alongside these tasks, CILEX Lawyers will have a range of duties such as supervising junior staff, keeping up to date with cases and changing legislation in your area of expertise, and attending meetings with staff and/or clients.
Overall, the work of a CILEX Lawyer is identical to that of a solicitor working at a law firm, and they will be working alongside solicitors in most of their workplaces.
The working times of a CILEX Lawyer are the standard office hours, working 9 – 5 however expect some longer hours when deals are close to a close or work is nearing a deadline. Working late or on weekends will be an uncommon occurrence however as with all roles in the legal industry, it is a possibility.
CILEX Lawyers work across the legal sector, from very large law firms to small and medium legal practices.; they also often work in local authorities or as in-house counsel at corporate or commercial organisations. CILEX Lawyers can work as partners and run their own legal practice.
With at least 5 years post-qualification experience, CILEX Lawyers can apply for judicial roles such as:
- Deputy District Judge
- Employment Judge
- District Judge
Similar to solicitors and barristers, the salary of a CILEX Lawyer will vary depending on the location of the office and the area of law that they specialise in. Starting salaries range from £15,000 to £28,000 and, after completing CPQ, CILEX Lawyers can earn up to £38,000. After completing the 3 years of relevant work experience Legal Executives can expect to earn from £35,000 to £55,000.
To check the average salary for Chartered Legal Executives in your practice area or location, check out the Legists Salary Checker!
The Skills needed to be successful as a CILEX Lawyer are similar to those of a solicitor and barrister. During their role, CILEX Lawyers are constantly working with others, whether that is clients, other legal professionals, or witnesses and as a result communication is the most important skill a CILEX Lawyer can hold. Having high-level communication skills is key in both verbal and written formats, alongside this CILEX Lawyers will often be working in teams therefore, the ability to work well and thrive in a team is crucial to success.
There are skills required that are also required of all legal professionals such as the ability to work under pressure; as the law is a fast-paced environment work can often surprise you and deadlines can be tight, so the ability to work in these tense times and environments is extremely important. Also, the work of a CILEX Lawyer constantly involves sensitive and confidential information, so the ability to remain discreet is of utmost importance. Furthermore, due to the high volume of tasks, deadlines, and meetings organisational skills are crucial in order to remain on top of your work and ensure clients are left satisfied.
Overall, the CPQ is great for those who want an alternative, accessible and affordable route into law, the role is professionally equivalent to a solicitor in terms of rights and responsibilities; the only noticeable difference is the qualification and training route. If you would like to compare the role of a CILEX Lawyer with that of a solicitor or other legal professionals such as paralegals, then check out the Career Advice section of the Legists for articles on all areas of law!
By Dr David Cameron, Director of Education - CILEX