CILEx: An alternative route to the law with passionate advocates
Before I started working with the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives (CILEx) at the end of last year, I didn’t really know a great deal about Legal Executives, despite having worked in the legal sector for many years and my 96 years old Grandad claiming to be CILEx’s oldest member!
I don’t think I was unusual in being largely unaware of the CILEx, alternative route to becoming a lawyer and that Chartered Legal Executives can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.
CILEx members are a diverse group with more women, more people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and fewer privately educated members than their solicitor counterparts. Speaking to members and hearing about their careers, I have found that what they all have in common is how passionate about CILEx they are.
These are focused and determined individuals who have worked their way up, studying hard in their spare time whilst working, often full time, and in many cases juggling childcare responsibilities. They are keen to spread the word about the benefits of going down the CILEx route, one so much so that she left the profession to work for CILEx itself.
This is a great resource for a Legal PR professional – passionate advocates who are happy to speak to journalists and tell their stories are invaluable.
Perhaps some of the reason for this enthusiasm is that CILEx has given people who might otherwise not have thought it was a career path open to them, a route into the law. They are generally specialists in particular areas of practice and often it is the enlightened law firms who they worked for early in their careers who saw their potential and helped to fund their studies.
This year CILEx has ambitious plans to lobby for change, pushing to have its say on areas such as court reform and access to justice as well as demanding that the legal framework recognises that Chartered Legal Executives operate on a par with solicitors. The Institute will be continuing to educate law firms on the value CILEx members can bring to their organisations as well as raising awareness of the career paths open to CILEx graduates.
I hope that as we continue to work with them, we will see a growing understanding among aspiring lawyers about the CILEx route into the law and more opportunities for the organisation to get their voice heard in the legal profession and beyond.