Legal executive – Do I need to go to university?
Your deepest desire is to land yourself a career in law, however the competition surrounding the training contract and pupillage process is slightly off-putting to say the least. What are your options? Become a paralegal? That’s certainly a possibility and shouldn’t be looked down upon, especially since recent changes in the legal industry means that paralegals can now become solicitors later in their career.
Another option is to become a legal executive. These dudes and dudettes carry out similar work to a solicitor, but only tend to specialise in one area of law. Don’t worry, you can still become a partner of a law firm if you’re a legal executive and you’ll still take home a tidy amount of money every month.
Sound good? Amazing. Here are the routes to becoming a legal executive.
Right, so you’re eager to experience student lifestyle. You may even be a student already, studying a law degree or even a non-law degree. Once you’ve finished juggling your time between lectures, nightclubs and your bed, you can apply to the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma, with no need to spend nearly as much money as you would on the LPC or BPTC. If you have a non-law undergraduate degree, you’ll have to study for the GDL before undertaking the CILEx course.
Costing around £3000, the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma is significantly cheaper than the LPC and BPTC, and you also have the option to study full-time, part-time or via distance learning. This means you can work in legal practice and get some qualifying employment under your belt before becoming a Chartered Legal Executive and a CILEx fellow. Earning as you learn also means you can sidestep even more student debt.
Following the diploma, you will need to undertake three years of qualifying employment
Whether you’re still at school or have decided to leave university but still want to pursue a legal career, there are CILEx options open to you also! Legal apprenticeships are a great option for school leavers, and will involve working as a junior paralegal. The new Trailblazer apprenticeships landed in 2016, and it's now even easier to progress to the Legal Executive level without going to university.
Apprenticeships are a way to earn while you learn, so if the cost of uni fees is seriously putting you off, this is the route for you!
Once you’ve completed the Level 3 Paralegal qualification, you can undertake the Level 6 Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship. Here you’ll be required to demonstrate a broad understand of three areas of law and for one of these areas, you need to show you have a practical understanding of the legal practice that arises from the law.
Once you've completed this five year course, you’re good to go as a fully chartered Legal Executive! No need to go to university, but if you do, there’s also no need to go through the ordeal of hunting for a training contract and coughing up LPC fees!
You can read more about the new Trailblazer apprenticeships here.
Alternative Routes into Law