What is a CILEx qualification?
There are multiple qualifications that you can obtain in order to qualify to work in the legal sector. Here we elaborate what the CILEx qualification is and the career opportunities it opens.
Gaining a qualification in law
The most conventional way to start a career in the legal industry is to do a Bachelor of Laws (or LLB for short) and subsequently enrol on a Legal Practice Course (LPC). This is followed by a two-year training contract, after which you become a qualified solicitor.
Beginning in September 2021, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have introduced the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which aims to standardise the route to qualifying as a solicitor and will eventually replace the LPC that is in the process of being phased out.
Students on the SQE pathway that do not have a qualifying law degree prior to enrolment will have to complete two years of qualifying work experience and pass the SQE exams before becoming a fully-fledged solicitor. There will no longer be a requirement to complete the LPC or GDL.
However, CILEx offers an alternative pathway into law.
What is a CILEx qualification?
CILEx, which is shorthand for The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, is a professional body that offers legal qualifications and is independent of the SRA. Rather than becoming solicitors, those who complete a CILEx qualification will become Chartered Legal Executives.
As opposed to the LPC and SQE qualifications, you do not need a degree at all to enrol on a CILEx programme. Nevertheless, if you do have a qualifying law degree or you have completed a law conversion course such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL), you will not be required to enrol on all sections of the course.
As a Chartered Legal Executive you are able to work as a lawyer and execute functions such as carry out legal research, provide legal advice to clients and get involved with the drafting and negotiation of contracts.
Even though you need to take additional exams to qualify as a solicitor, your CILEx qualification allows you to become a partner in your firm.
The CILEx qualification process means that you begin to specialise in a particular area of law on your programme, whilst aspiring solicitors will become generalists once they have completed their studies.
But what is the process of qualifying as a CILEx lawyer? We will discuss below.
The CILEx qualification process
Through the CILEx route you will be working towards a CILEx Professional Qualification (CPQ). The process of becoming a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer is broken down into three stages, namely the CPQ Foundation stage, the CPQ Advanced stage and the CPQ Professional stage.
Completing the CPQ Foundation stage and the CPQ Advanced stage will allow you to qualify as a CILEx Paralegal and CILEx Advanced Paralegal respectively. However, if you want to become a CILEx lawyer, you must pass the CPQ Professional stage as well.
The course is very practical, meaning emphasis is placed on providing students with work experience and helping them prepare for the demands of the workplace. Each level of the CILEx qualification process takes 18 to 24 months to complete, meaning you can become a qualified CILEx lawyer in the space of five to six years.
The whole qualification process with the three stages will set you back £12,500 - a fraction of the cost of doing a degree and subsequently enrolling on SQE preparation courses and possibly the PGDL. As a CILEx lawyer, you will even have the opportunity to work in law firms and in-house legal departments of businesses just like solicitors.
Whilst the LPC and SQE are considered more conventional routes into the legal sector, the CILEx pathway most certainly has its perks that make it an attractive option if you want a career in law.