LSB approves new approach to qualifying as a chartered legal executive

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By Legal Futures

11 April 2013

Burleigh: new requirements may be challenging

A new outcomes-focused approach to becoming a chartered legal executive, which could also cut the time it takes to qualify by reducing the ‘time served’ aspect of the process, has been approved by the Legal Services Board.

Currently, to become a chartered legal executive (also known as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – CILEx), applicants are judged on an outline they provide of their examinations and work experience, which is normally supported by a reference from their current employer.

ILEX Professional Standards (IPS), the regulatory arm of CILEx, told the LSB: “While this method provides some assurance that the applicant is considered to be competent by their employer, it does not offer an objective and independent standard against which the applicant may be objectively measured for competence.”

IPS is replacing this with a more structured work-based learning scheme which enables it to assess each applicant against eight competencies, broken down into a series of 27 learning outcomes. These competencies outline the standard expected of a newly qualified Fellow.

Applicants also currently have to undertake an aggregate of five years of ‘qualifying employment’, of which the two immediately before applying must come after completing the academic stage of training. This is to become three years of qualifying employment; and while applicants will still need to have been working for two years prior to applying, only the second year must be after completing the academic stage.

IPS said this was justified “on the ground that the ability to objectively assess the competence of applicants for Fellowship, reduces the requirement for ‘time served’ in qualifying employment”.

Approving the application, the LSB said: “The LSB welcomes the outcomes-focused approach adopted by IPS to introduce a work-based learning scheme based on a set of learning outcomes which reflect the key competencies required to become a newly qualified Fellow…

“The LSB also concurs with the IPS view that an application process which is based on transparent and agreed criteria in the form of eight agreed work-based learning outcomes will ensure the application process for Fellowship is more robust and objective, and therefore fairer to the applicant.”

Thelma Brown, the IPS board member who led the work, said: “IPS’s decision to introduce the new scheme reflects our wish to give further assurance to the public of the very high quality of chartered legal executives, who combine high academic qualifications with practical experience. This development marks our commitment to place public protection at the heart of regulation. It is very pleasing to note the LSB’s endorsement of both our approach and our methodology.”

CILEx chief executive Diane Burleigh added: “CILEx has worked closely with IPS to develop a scheme which brings clarity to the high standards of practice and experience expected of our members as they work to qualify as chartered legal executives.

“We recognise that these new requirements may be challenging for some of our members and their employers. They can be assured that CILEX will be on hand to advise and guide them throughout their qualifying employment.”

CILEx members will be able to apply under the new scheme from 24 June 2013, and IPS will be producing detailed guidance in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has confirmed that secondary legislation will be introduced to allow chartered legal executives to apply for the Judicial Appointments Commission posts reserved for members of the legal profession.

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Craig Wakeford LSB

Independent regulation gives confidence to consumers, providers, investors and society as a whole that legal services work in the public interest and support the rule of law. The Legal Services Act 2007 does not require all approved regulators to be structurally separate from representative bodies. Instead, the Legal Services Board is required by the Act to produce internal governance rules (IGR) which apply the principle of regulatory independence in legal service regulation. We are currently running a consultation on the IGR which continues until 9 February.

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