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What is a CILEX Lawyer, what do they do and how do you become one? Find the answers to all these questions and read about the role of CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) on this page.

What is CILEX?

CILEX (The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. There are over 20,000 members made up of CILEX Lawyers, paralegals and other legal professionals.

The CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) was launched in 2021; a new approach to on-the-job training that marries legal knowledge with the practical skills, behaviours and commercial awareness needed by lawyers in the 2020s.

The CPQ provides three levels of qualification: CILEX Lawyer, CILEX Advanced Paralegal and CILEX Paralegal. CILEX Lawyers can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.

What Are CILEX Lawyers?

A CILEX Lawyer has completed all three stages of the competency-based CPQ, which includes compulsory Ethics and Professional Responsibility modules, and gained a minimum of three years’ relevant practical experience. They usually practice in law firms or in-house legal teams. They are likely to act directly for a variety of clients, including:

  • Individuals
  • Small businesses
  • Large national and international companies

The structure of CPQ means CILEX Lawyers qualify with practice rights in at least one specialist area of law. By contrast, solicitors and barristers qualify as generalists and only begin to specialise post-qualification.

What CILEX Lawyers do

CILEX Lawyers can specialise in: Dispute Resolution; Criminal Litigation; Residential Conveyancing; Commercial Conveyancing; Employment Law; Business & Commercial Law; Family Litigation; Wills & Probate; or Immigration Law.

Salaries

Salaries will vary according to your location and legal specialism. Starting salaries start from £20,000 per year while qualifying.

Qualifications

CPQ is a progressive framework across three stages founded on the CILEX Competency Framework. Each stage combines a focus on technical expertise and practical skills with the development of the core behaviours required to create forward-thinking, commercially minded, adaptable lawyers who really understand the clients they serve.  The three stages of CPQ are:

  • CPQ Foundation Stage – aligned to the role of a paralegal. Professionals who complete CPQ Foundation Stage will become an accredited CILEX Paralegal. That means they will be able to demonstrate the competencies specifically linked to that role, having evidenced them through assessment of their practical experience. This enables them to add value early and with an understanding of the practical issues facing clients and providers of legal services.
  • CPQ Advanced Stage – for those handling cases at an advanced paralegal level. CPQ Advanced Stage builds on the knowledge acquired in CPQ Foundation Stage and includes an additional Ethics & Professional Responsibility module and a further period of professional experience. Professionals at this stage will also have started to specialise in a specific area of law. On completion, they will be accredited as a CILEX Advanced Paralegal. CILEX Advanced Paralegals meet all the attributes for CILEX Paralegals. In addition, they can demonstrate competence and legal knowledge to a high specialist level, enabling them to work as specialist case handlers in any of the areas of law they study.
  • CPQ Professional Stage – for those who want to be accredited as a full CILEX Lawyer in their chosen specialist area of law and with full practice rights. A CILEX Lawyer has completed all three stages of the CPQ, which includes compulsory Ethics and Professional Responsibility modules and gained a minimum of three years’ relevant practical experience. The structure of CPQ means CILEX Lawyers qualify with practice rights in at least one specialist area of law. By contrast, solicitors and barristers qualify as generalists and only begin to specialise post-qualification. For their employers and clients, this means that CILEX Lawyers are ready to deliver specialist expertise and add value from much earlier in their careers.

Career Progression

Following qualification via CILEx, there are several options available. Legal executives can:

  • Become partners in law firms
  • Open their own law firm delivering reserved legal activities
  • Become a court advocate with extended rights of audience in civil, criminal and family proceedings
  • Apply for some judicial appointment
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