Legal Executives: A Brief History

  • Written by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives

You can trace the history of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) back to the 19th century. Its predecessor, Managing Clerks, was founded in 1892 and featured in Victorian and Edwardian literature. It is a little known fact that Charles Dickens was a Solicitor’s Clerk and he drew upon his experience for characters in his novels.

In 1928, Managing Clerks formed their own regulatory body, which resulted in the Managing Clerks’ Association being incorporated as a Company. In 1963, after consultation between the Council of the Association and the Law Society, it was decided that a new type of lawyer, a Legal Executive, would be created. This led to the formation of the Institute of Legal Executives. From its humble beginnings, the Institute has now grown into a substantial legal body serving a professional membership of over 22,000. In 2012, the Institute became incorporated by Royal Charter and it is now known ‘The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.’

Today, CILEx examinations are similar in standard to those set by the Bar and Law Society and, like barristers and solicitors, the legal executive profession is independently regulated. The higher grades of CILEx members have to complete Continuing Professional Development. Recent changes mean that there is now very little distinction between a solicitor and a legal executive lawyer, as they can now become partners, judges and advocates. In fact, legal executive lawyers may often manage solicitors due to the emphasis placed on practical skills by CILEx.

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