The CPQ explained

CILEXCILEX New March 2021 (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) recently launched the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), a new approach to training which is designed to produce lawyers equipped with the skills they need to meet the changing demands of the modern legal market.

Providing three levels of qualification – CILEX Lawyer, CILEX Advanced Paralegal and CILEX Paralegal – the CPQ will be accessible, affordable and flexible, offering a non-university route into the law and allowing students to combine work and study.

Who is the CPQ open to?

Unlike other routes into a legal career, a degree or equivalent qualification or experience are not a pre-requisite.  The CPQ is open to all.

Those with undergraduate or postgraduate legal qualifications will not have to start at the beginning.

How does the new CILEX qualification differ from the existing one?

Currently CILEX offers a two-stage qualification which also requires those who want independent rights to conduct reserved legal activities – conveyancing, probate, litigation and advocacy – to undertake a further qualification.

CPQ is a less complex route to becoming a lawyer which makes it simpler to progress from stage to stage. Gaining full practice rights is integral to the qualification for the first time.

There are three stages: Foundation, which is aligned to the role of a paralegal; Advanced, which will be for those handling cases at an advanced paralegal level; and Professional, for those who want to be CILEX Lawyers in their chosen specialist area of law.

CILEX has spent three years developing the CPQ and it is built with employers in mind. Unlike our current qualifications, it includes mandatory elements covering legal technology, business skills and emotional intelligence – a first for legal training.

What does the course cover?

There are 22 assessed modules in total across CPQ, of which trainees are expected to study a maximum of 12:

  • CPQ Foundation stage consists of five mandatory modules
  • CPQ Advanced stage consists of four mandatory modules and one optional module, which the student must select from three options
  • CPQ Professional stage consists of one mandatory module and one optional module, which the student must select from nine options. The choice of module at CPQ Professional stage must be underpinned by the corresponding module at CPQ Advanced stage.

Students must also all complete two Ethics and Professional Responsibility e-learning modules and those wishing to acquire a practice right in Dispute Resolution, Family Litigation or Criminal Litigation will also be required to undertake an Advocacy Course.

How long will it take to qualify?

This will vary from trainee to trainee. Those with undergraduate or postgraduate legal qualifications will not have to start at the beginning and the flexibility of the qualification means it is possible to pause learning and progress at whatever speed suits you. Not everyone will want to study all three stages.

It is expected that each stage takes between 18 months and two years, so a student could qualify as a CILEX Lawyer in five to six years.

How does the CPQ differ from the SQE?

With no minimum academic entry requirements, the CPQ is open to all. Without the need to fund a degree (the average cost of which is estimated to be £27K), the overall cost of qualification is significantly reduced.

Students can study at their own pace, progress in stages aligned to job roles and pause study if they wish.

Learning is applied to work experience from day one and unlike the SQE, the CPQ teaches the additional skills needed for the modern legal world.

It is designed to produce specialists – learning and experience is developed to a deeper level in a specific practice area.

How will existing students be affected?

There is a transition period during which trainees may complete their current course of study, but there will also be opportunities to transition to CPQ if they wish to, or if they run out of time to complete the course they are on. Should they wish to transition to CPQ, their prior previous attainment will be taken into account and they will be eligible for exemptions from CPQ modules, or even whole stages.

How much does the CPQ cost?

To complete all three stages and qualify as a CILEX Lawyer should cost no more than £12.5k.

Trainees entering with prior legal qualifications, such as a law degree or LPC, will enter CPQ at Advanced or Professional stage, with a corresponding reduction in cost.

When are applications open?

Subject to final regulatory approval, CPQ will open for enrolments in June 2021.


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