CILEX – the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – has unveiled a redesigned qualification that allows students without degrees to qualify as lawyers with full practice rights or achieve recognised paralegal standards.
Students combine work and study and the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) looks to marry legal knowledge with skills, behaviours and commercial awareness.
It introduces mandatory elements of legal technology, business skills and emotional intelligence into legal training for the first time.
CILEX has long pioneered the non-graduate route into law and, despite the launch later this year of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), will largely remain the only way too.
Aspiring solicitors will still need a degree, or equivalent qualification or work experience, under the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) new training regime.
The minutes of last month’s SRA board meeting reveal that it expects fewer than 20 applicants a year to have degree-equivalent work experience.
The CPQ has three stages – Foundation, Advanced and Professional – and CILEX said the first two brought “structure, regulation and defined standards to paralegals for the first time by introducing the titles CILEX Paralegal and CILEX Advanced Paralegal”.
This recognised that not everyone wanted or needed to progress through to the full qualification.
Each stage comprises three elements: core legal knowledge and skills, ethics and professional responsibility, and professional experience.
Currently, those who qualify as chartered legal executives/Fellows have to take a further qualification to obtain practice rights; they will come baked into the CPQ and the title CILEX Lawyer.
Students with under- or postgraduate legal qualifications will not have to start at the beginning.
CILEX expects each stage to take between 18 months and two years – although students can progress at whatever speed suits them – meaning a student could qualify as a CILEX Lawyer in five to six years. The full course will cost £12,500, broadly comparable to the cost of the SQE. CILEX said that, as a degree or equivalent was not a pre-requisite, CPQ “will be a substantially more affordable way for students to become lawyers than the SQE – delivering on CILEX’s commitment to accessibility while not compromising standards”.
Subject to final regulatory approval, CPQ will open for enrolments in June 2021. Students will be able to study through CILEX Law School or through a number of approved providers.
CILEX chief executive Linda Ford said: “CPQ recognises that a successful career in the law requires more than just legal knowledge.
“By blending academic studies with practice-based experience throughout the qualification and the addition of a wider set of business and personal effectiveness competencies, the next generation of CILEX Lawyers will have the skills needed to adapt, innovate and enhance how legal services are delivered to meet evolving consumer needs.”