Guest post by Helen Hardwick, manager of policy and stakeholder engagement, and Danielle Rowles, practitioner authorisation and supervision manager, at CILEx Regulation
Following approval from the Legal Services Board in May 2022, CILEx Regulation has launched an alternative route for chartered legal executives to obtain independent practice rights and apply for authorisation as a CILEX practitioner to undertake reserved and regulated legal activities in the following areas:
- Litigation and advocacy for civil, criminal, or family proceedings; and
- Immigration and asylum activities.
Who can apply?
This exciting new development is open to all chartered legal executives who have at least five years’ qualifying employment experience (either before or after qualification) and will involve an assessment with the University of Law to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the area of practice they are seeking independent rights.
For applicants seeking rights in an entirely new area of practice, the new route also provides the option to complete a 24-week training programme with the University of Law prior to undertaking the assessment.
What are the benefits in applying for independent practice rights?
This new route will be a welcome addition to the current portfolio-based option, giving eligible chartered legal executives not only greater flexibility and choice to progress in their career but enabling them to practise without the supervision or direction of other regulated lawyers (authorised persons) if successful.
While chartered legal executives are qualified lawyers, the only reserved legal activity they are automatically entitled to undertake independently upon qualification is the administration of oaths.
As the independent regulator for CILEX, which has a reputation for offering alternative and flexible pathways into the legal profession including those without a degree, the CILEx Regulation initiative to expand routes to authorisation is another example of its commitment to providing cost-effective and time-efficient ways to those wishing to pursue a career in the legal profession.
The assessment-only option with the University of Law costs less under £500 and can be completed in three and a half hours at a pre-arranged time. The training and assessment route costs in the region of £2,000 and includes a 24-week training programme with the University of Law prior to the assessment stage.
The move is good news for law firms too, giving them greater options to support and develop their workforce to become authorised persons who can undertake specific reserved legal activities without the need for supervision.
With the increasing digitisation of legal services, it will become ever more important for individuals to be authorised for reserved legal activities to complete certain tasks, such as submitting forms to the Land Registry and probate registry.
This new route offers the opportunity for chartered legal executives to take that next step without having to spend lots of time putting together evidence-based portfolios.
What is involved?
The assessment is made up of two components: a multiple-choice examination (MCQ) to assess knowledge and a skills component to assess competence.
The multiple-choice question component is a 90-minute assessment taken online in a closed-book environment. There are 45 questions.
The skills component has two elements, both of which must be completed within two hours:
The first is an oral interviewing skills element, conducted via a video conferencing tool. The second is a written submission, based on the first element, such as a follow-up letter to the client confirming the points raised in the earlier interview, or correspondence with a witness (factual or expert) or with the opponent building on the content of the oral element.
Chartered legal executives with less than five years of qualifying employment experience may still be able to apply for independent practice rights via the portfolio-based application route.
Where to find additional information?
For chartered legal executives interested in finding out more about the new route to obtaining independent practice rights, you can express your interest through the CILEx Regulation website.