Want to become a Chartered Legal Executive or simply want to know more about the profession? This section includes how you can become a Chartered Legal Executive, CILEx, as well as step-by-step guides to becoming a Chartered Legal Executive.
What are chartered legal executives, what do they do and how do you become one? You’ve come to the right place for these answers! This page also outlines the role played by Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and a step-by-step guide to becoming a chartered legal executive.
Chartered legal executives are specialist qualified lawyers. They usually practice in law firms or in-housealongside and generally under the supervision of solicitors. They are likely to act directly for a variety of clients, including:
Large national and international companies
Chartered Legal Executives – What Do They Do?
Chartered legal executives usually specialise in a particular area of law such as:
Civil Litigation (such as personal injury, debt recovery, housing, employment)
Criminal litigation (either defence or prosecution)
Conveyancing (such as buying and selling property)
Public law work (such as working in a Local Authority, in Government, welfare benefits or immigration)
Private client (such as finance or probate and wills)
Corporate (company or commercial law)
Legal Practice (practice management, or costs and accounts work)
On a daily basis, chartered legal executives may:
Provide specialist legal advice
Research complex legal issues
Draft and negotiate contracts, wills and other legal documents
Appear and speak on behalf of clients in court (having similar rights of audience to that of solicitors)
Attend meetings with clients
Interview and advise clients in the office, at clients homes and if practising crime at courts and in police stations.
Chartered Legal Executive v Solicitor – What Is The Difference?
The main difference between a solicitorand a chartered legal executive is the route to qualification and cost. The CILEx exams and training period combined can be shorter for a chartered legal executive. Take a look at our Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Solicitor on our solicitor overview page and ourStep-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Chartered Legal Executive (below) to compare and contrast the routes to qualification. That being said, the high level to which you are expected to study for either route is comparable. However, the key difference is that if you take CILEx exams to qualify, you will study fewer subjects overall. Such subjects are heavily focused towards the area of law you wish to practice in. There are many opportunities to combine study with practical legal training in a law firm (or other) setting, which will count towards qualification as a chartered legal executive. This in turn leads to opportunities to ‘earn while you learn’ so to speak.
Studying for CILEx qualifications generally costs less than a university degree. On top of a degree, law graduates require post-graduate legal qualifications (the LPC or BPTC) to become a either a solicitor or barrister respectively. An LPC will cost between £9,000-£12,000 and a BPTC will cost between £13,000 and £18,000. In comparison CILEx qualifications to become a lawyer cost on average £8620 and as stated above, because CILEx studies are flexible you can earn whilst you learn.
You also don’t need a training contract or pupillage to become a chartered legal executive (these can be hard to secure and are currently mandatory to become a solicitor or barrister).
The day-to-day practices of solicitors and chartered legal executives are very similar.
For more insight into the similarities and differences as between solicitors and chartered legal executives, why not take a look at our article – How to Become a Lawyer – A Tale of Two Sisters. This story charts the careers and experiences of two sisters, one who became a chartered legal executive and one who became a solicitor at the same law firm – Edward Hayes LLP.
Chartered Legal Executive – Would I Make a Good One?
The best way to establish whether you would make a good chartered legal executive is to seek legal work experience. This first-hand experience will give you a great insight into the profession and whether you have the potential to excel. Try making some speculative applications to local law firms to see what work experience opportunities are available. It is also important to consider your skill set and whether it is a potential fit with the skills you will need to develop as a training and qualified legal executive. Visit our page on What Makes a Good Lawyer to find out more.
Chartered Legal Executive Career Paths
Following qualification via CILEx, there are a number of options available. Chartered Legal Executives can:
Become partners in law firms
Open their own law firm delivering reserved legal activities
Become a ourt advocate with extended rights of audience in civil, criminal and family proceedings
Become accredited through the Criminal Litigation Accreditated Scheme and apply to join a duty scheme
Take further exams and qualify as a solicitor
Apply for some judicial appointments, such as a District Judge in the Magistrates Court
Chartered Legal Executive – A Second Career
Training to become a chartered legal executive isn’t something that you necessarily have to do following on from formal education. Many individuals embark on a career as a chartered legal executive later on in life.
Take a look at Richard’s story. He had a career in the RAF before deciding to pursue a career in law.
Salaries tend to start at around £15,000, rising to around £100,000, at the most experienced level.
Chartered Legal Executives – Regulation and Representation
Chartered legal executives are represented by The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. CILEx represents more than 20,000 chartered legal executives in training and practice. CILEx is also responsible for overseeing and regulating the profession. It provides ongoing education, training and skills development to its members.
Chartered Legal Executive Step-by-Step Guides
There are a number of entry points into the profession, depending on the initial level to which you have studied. The various step by step guides to becoming a chartered legal executive are set out below:
GCSE students: Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Chartered Legal Executive
Step 3 – Pay exemption and membership fees to become a Graduate Member of CILEx
Step 4 – Complete three years of qualifying experience
Step 5 – Qualify as a chartered legal executive
Take a look at Frantz’s story. He is a Immigration Practitioner and gained his independent practice rights through CILEx Regulation. Considering his options, Frantz decided the CILEx route was the best route for him due to the flexibility, affordability and that you can earn as you learn.
*Legal experience is usually gained in a law firm or in-house in legal department under the supervision of a chartered legal executive, solicitor, barrister or licensed conveyancer.
To qualify as a chartered legal executive you can start your qualifying employment before, during or after your studies. Most students are either working in a legal environment at the time that they start their studies, or obtain employment as a trainee legal executive during their period of studying. This may count towards CILEx’s qualifying employment requirements.
The final year of the three year period of qualifying employment cannot be gained until you have achieved your academic qualification, i.e. when you become a Graduate Member of CILEx. This means up to 2 of the 3 years qualifying employment may be served concurrently with your studying. The 2 years’ qualifying employment immediately preceding your application for Fellowship must be consecutive.
Once you have completed your qualifying employment you will then be able to apply to become a Fellow of CILEx and use the designation FCILEx.
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