CILEX Consultation – FAQs
1. What is this consultation about?
This consultation seeks views from our members and stakeholders on the latest reforms as part of our 2019-2024 strategy.
The consultation identifies a series of changes CILEX proposes to make to modernise our governance, to increase consumer awareness of and access to CILEX Lawyers and entities and to enhance trust and confidence in all CILEX professionals.
Our proposals include amendments to our governance, clearer professional titles that promote CILEX Lawyers as chartered specialists and a framework to recognise CILEX Paralegals as a distinct regulated profession.
The consultation also explains why we are considering delegating regulation of our members to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Our aim is to enhance public awareness, trust and confidence that CILEX Lawyers have equal standing to Solicitors, are held to the same professional standards and consumers benefit from the same levels of protection regardless of different routes to qualification.
We are also seeking to remove barriers preventing CILEX-entities from equal access to lender panels, banks, insurance and public contracts, enabling increased competition and consumer choice of legal services provider.
Importantly, the proposed changes protect the distinct identity of CILEX professionals and CILEX-entities with authorisation based on practice specialism and preserves our alternative route into law which is vital to supporting social mobility and ensuring the legal profession reflects the diversity of our society.
The consultation seeks views on the following proposals:
- Extending member voting rights from only CILEX Fellows to all CILEX members.
- Creating a new suite of specialist Chartered Lawyer titles that make it clearer to the public that CILEX Lawyers with independent practice rights have parity with solicitor counterparts in the same practice area.
- Creating a paralegal standards framework and career ladder that offers the opportunity to become a Chartered Paralegal linked to a professional register.
- Establishing a new ‘legal technologist’ membership grade in preparation for an apprenticeship currently under development.
- Redelegating regulation of CILEX members to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
2. How will the proposed changes affect me?
CILEX members will benefit from:
- Improved recognition for CILEX Lawyers as having parity with Solicitors to practice independently in their specialist area of authorisation;
- Increased brand profile for Chartered Legal Executives as Chartered Lawyers resulting in improved consumer and employer understanding of status and ability to offer specialist legal services;
- Increased recognition and enhanced career development for paralegals as a distinct professional group within the institute with the opportunity to obtain Chartered status;
- Equality of voting rights and opportunity to participate in CILEX governance for all CILEX members regardless of membership grade;
- Ability to establish own entity with same access to lender panels, insurance, referral contracts, regulatory kitemark and compensation fund as solicitor-led firms.
Providers of legal services will benefit from:
- Removal of duplication and regulatory overlap arising from two different regulators having jurisdiction over employees in SRA firms through;
- Aligned standards of conduct and practice for CILEX Lawyers and Solicitors;
- Standardised set of processes relating to authorisation, CPD, complaint handling, enforcement and consumer protection for all those working in regulated firms;
- Clarity on comparability of the competence and scope of authorisation to practice of CILEX Lawyers compared to Solicitors;
- Entitlement to same recognition and access to market opportunities regardless of whether a Solicitor-led or CILEX Lawyer-led business;
- Ability to support career progression and retention of paralegals through professional development and recognition as Chartered professionals and resulting commercial benefits;
Consumers will benefit from:
- Improved ability to access and understand information on the choice of lawyer authorised to provide legal services and to compare CILEX Lawyers and Solicitors specialising in each area of law;
- Increased trust and confidence through:
- Clarity of equivalence in level of qualification and therefore comparable ability of CILEX Lawyers and Solicitors to deliver the same service by practise specialism;
- Consistency of standards of conduct and practice applied to both CILEX Lawyers and Solicitors;
- Standardised consumer protection and redress regardless of which professional (CILEX Lawyer or Solicitor) or provider (SRA firm or CILEX-led entity) provides service;
- Simplified navigation of complaint handling with removal of need to engage with two separate regulators investigation and enforcement processes and the resulting confusion and delays where case involves CILEX professional;
- Increased access to justice through choice of either solicitor-led or CILEX Lawyer-led firm regulated by same regulator and to same standard.
3. What won’t change based on the proposals being consulted on?
- The distinct identity of CILEX qualified Lawyers, Paralegals and ‘CILEX-led’ entities;
- A separate CILEX route into law supporting social mobility & improving diversity;
- The specialist nature of CILEX qualification and scope of authorisation based on practice specialism;
- The requirement for CILEX membership to use Chartered title;
- The rights of existing CILEX members:
- Fellows authorised status as Chartered Legal Executives & eligibility for a practising certificate & specialist practice rights;
- Membership of CILEX and associated right to use postnominals;
- Career opportunities arising from CILEX qualification including eligibility for judicial appointment, ability to establish own firm or become a partner in an existing firm.
4. Why is governance reform needed?
As a chartered body, CILEX must lead by example. If we are to promote equality of opportunity and challenge the legal sector to become more diverse and inclusive, we must ensure our own governance and constitution reflects these values and offers opportunity without barriers.
In practical terms, this means ensuring that all members – regardless of their membership grade – have the opportunity to influence the work of CILEX. That is what the proposed changes seek to ensure by extending voting rights to all grades of member and to open up eligibility to sit on our Professional Board.
The role of CILEX President is the most senior and high-profile member of CILEX who must be able to represent the profession for matters relating to legal practice and policy. We believe the President must therefore be appointed on merit from our pool of Chartered members who have demonstrated they meet the highest standards in their profession.
5. When will the changes come into effect?
The CILEX Board will consider the outcomes of the consultation in November 2023. An application will then need to be made to the Privy Council to amend the Charter and Bye-Laws. It is not expected that any changes to our governance will therefore come into effect before January 2024.
MEMBERSHIP FRAMEWORK & CHARTERED STATUS
6. Why is my title changing?
Since obtaining our Royal Charter in 2012, CILEX Fellows have been permitted to use the protected title of Chartered Legal Executive (CLE).
However, research shows that this title can confuse both clients and employers. CLEs are frequently required to explain their status as specialist lawyers, authorised to practice with equivalence to solicitors in a specified area of practice. Research indicates too that, to be effective in supporting consumer understanding, titles should be simple and use familiar language. Reflecting one of the stand-out features of the CILEX profession, members have previously shown strong support for making specialism more explicit in their title.
As a result, the consultation proposes simplifying the title awarded to CILEX Fellows on qualification to reflect their status as Chartered Lawyers (a term the public are familiar with) and to recognise the specialist areas in which Fellows are qualified and authorised, e.g. Chartered Property Lawyer, Chartered Corporate Lawyer etc. This will be simple for consumers to understand and make it more explicit that Fellows are lawyers along with solicitors and Barristers.
The regulatory title ‘Chartered Legal Executive’ will still apply to those Fellows who work in reserved areas but do not hold practice rights and therefore require the supervision of a Solicitor or CILEX Lawyer with practice rights.
7. What postnominals can I use?
- Chartered Lawyers and Chartered Legal Executives continue to be able to use FCILEX.
- Trainee Lawyers (those studying on CPQ Advanced; CILEX Lawyer Apprenticeship; the Level 6 Diploma in Law and Practice; or be a UK law graduate) are entitled to use MCILEX.
- Chartered Paralegals can use PCILEX.
- CILEX Paralegals can use ACILEX.
- Student members do not have the use of postnominals.
8. Why are you changing the approach to paralegals?
The term ‘paralegal’ has an incredibly broad meaning, applying to a significant number and variety of job roles across – and at the very edges of – the legal profession.
For some practice as a paralegal is a stepping-stone on the way to becoming a Chartered Lawyer or Solicitor. For others there are many career opportunities in the law that do not require full qualification and authorisation and therefore paralegal is a career choice in its own right. Either way, it is vital for consumer trust, confidence and protection that high standards are demanded of those working as paralegals.
Whilst the current CILEX Paralegal standard provides a baseline competency, feedback from employers and paralegals themselves is that it does not offer a progression route or distinguish different levels of experience or responsibility.
The consultation proposes creating a career ladder of Student Paralegal, Paralegal and Chartered Paralegal, with standards aligned to job roles at each level. This will help providers and users of legal services to differentiate based on level of competence and experience and the Professional Paralegal Register will provide a searchable database capturing standard attained, practice area and regulated status.
Chartered Paralegals will be able to use the designatory letters PCILEX after their names, Paralegals can use ACILEX.
9. How can experienced paralegals gain Chartered Paralegal status?
To attain Chartered Paralegal status, members must be able to demonstrate a minimum of five years’ experience working as a paralegal and meet the specified competency and conduct standards.
Evidence to validate the experience will be required either through employer references and case studies or a professional discussion interview with CILEX.
For those studying on a CILEX paralegal qualification the validation and assessment will be integrated into the qualification.
10. Can I be both a Chartered Paralegal and a Trainee Lawyer?
Whilst studying as a trainee CILEX Lawyer there is the opportunity to apply for Chartered Paralegal status upon achieving five years’ validated experience working as a paralegal. You will be required to make an application and pay the relevant fees.
If successful, you will have a choice whether to describe yourself to clients and within your job role as either a Chartered Paralegal or Trainee Lawyer. In some circumstances you may choose to refer to both.
11. What is a Legal Technologist?
Legal technologists are an emerging profession involved in the delivery of legal services. Bringing enhanced knowledge and understanding of IT systems and technology, technical expertise and an appreciation of the law, they are supporting providers to innovate and adapt their business models and processes.
In 2024 we expect to launch a new Legal Technologist apprenticeship and have therefore created a progression pathway within our membership framework for this new group of legal professionals.
Legal Technologist members will be able to use the postnominals LTCILEX.
12. Why do you want to change who regulates CILEX members?
The Case for Change outlined the four public interest outcomes that CILEX believes are essential for its model of delegated regulation. The regulatory body must be able to:
- Operate at sufficient scale to deliver efficient and effective regulation at a cost that is affordable for consumers and the profession;
- Establish and maintain consumer confidence that lawyers enter the profession through robust processes and maintain the standards expected of them by the regulator and the public once in practice;
- Create confidence of a consistency of approach that, for all regulated activities, every provider (entity and individual) in the market is required to operate to the same high standards; and
- Provide equal treatment and recognition of legal professionals regardless of route to qualification and provide equality of opportunity for individual practitioners and entities.
The evidence underpinning the case for change was independently reviewed by Chris Kenny. His report can be accessed here.
The CILEX Board has carefully considered responses to the Case for Change received first from its current delegated regulator, CILEX Regulation Limited and then from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
The conclusion of CILEX’s assessment and analysis was that a change in delegation to the SRA is necessary to achieve these public interest outcomes. The consultation document explores the rationale and impact in more detail.
13. I have already responded to CILEX Regulation’s consultation, why do I need to do this one as well?
CILEX and CILEX Regulation Limited (CRL) are separate legal entities. We have separate governance, distinct boards and staff and different operational and decision-making remits.
This consultation provides opportunity for CILEX, in its capacity as the Approved Regulator designated under the Legal Services Act 2007 and as a Chartered body with a public interest duty, to seek the views of our members and stakeholders. The outcomes will inform our decision-making in respect of both changes to our Charter and a potential application to the Legal Services Board to change our regulatory delegation.
CILEX Regulation consulted on proposals related to its own model of regulation as CILEX’s current delegated regulatory body. The outcomes of that consultation both shaped CRL’s response to the CILEX Case for Change and informed development of the proposals contained within this CILEX consultation.
It is important therefore that members do respond to this consultation in addition to any previous response provided to CRL.
14. Why will SRA regulation serve CILEX better?
Section 3 of the consultation document explains the public interest benefits CILEX believes will be achieved by a change in delegation to transfer the regulation of CILEX members to the SRA.
15. CRL has said in the past that CILEX does not have the power to do this. What makes you think you do?
In its investigation report into disputes between CILEX and CRL, the Legal Services Board (LSB) confirmed that, on the core question of delegation, an approved regulator like CILEX “retains the power, in principle, to revoke its delegation to a regulatory body and redelegate its regulatory functions elsewhere”.
16. CRL has put its own reform plan forward. Would it not been better and less disruptive to support that?
The core consideration is what is in the public interest. The Board of CILEX considered CRL’s proposals very carefully and objectively – the LSB investigation confirmed that CILEX had not “closed its mind” to the possibility of staying with CRL.
However, on the basis of the submission received from CILEX Regulation Limited and that received from the SRA, the CILEX Board concluded that to achieve the public interest outcomes identified it is necessary to delegate regulation of CILEX members to the SRA.
17. How will the distinct identity of CILEX professionals be maintained? Won’t CILEX members be lost as part of a much bigger regulator whose main focus is on Solicitors?
We have been clear to the SRA that any change must retain the distinct identity of CILEX Lawyers and Paralegals both as specialists and the most diverse group of legal professionals, as well as the CPQ as the route to qualification.
The SRA understands this and clearly articulated within their response a commitment to ensure that its model of regulation and associated communications, website and branding will:
- maintain and promote the distinct identity of CILEX Lawyers and the CILEX route into the profession;
- explain how CILEX Lawyers are regulated by the SRA and set out what this means;
- use the phrase “SRA regulating CILEX Lawyers” as a strapline where appropriate to raise awareness of its role in respect of CILEX members;
- report on the regulation of CILEX Lawyers as a discrete category to allow comparison of data across the professions;
- confirm that CILEX Lawyers have the same competence as solicitors in areas where they have practising rights, and that this flows from their training, assessment, and competence, not simply from being regulated by the SRA.
The SRA already regulates the 75% CILEX members who work in SRA firms. Precedent exists in the legal world for two distinct professions to share a regulator – the Intellectual Property Regulation Board regulates both Trademark Attorneys and Patent Attorneys, and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers regulates Licensed Conveyancers and Licensed Probate Practitioners.
Outside of legal services the Health Professionals Council regulates 15 distinct health and care professions and the Financial Reporting Council regulates auditors, accountants and actuaries. In all these examples the professional identifies of each distinct group is retained.
18. Will CILEX members eventually be expected to qualify as solicitors? / Will CILEX members be required to take the SQE instead of the CPQ?
No. The specialist nature of CILEX members is at the core of what we do. This would not change if regulation were to transfer to the SRA. The SRA, in its submission makes it clear the education routes into the law offered by CILEX and authorisation based on practice specialism will be retained.
19. Will CILEX still exist?
Yes. Both solicitors and CILEX members will continue to have their own Professional Bodies – the Law Society of England and Wales and CILEX respectively, which will also continue to be Approved Regulators under the Legal Services Act.
The SRA will discharge those regulatory activities delegated to it by CILEX as required under the Legal Services Act and specified in the CILEX Scheme of Delegation.
20. Will SRA regulation change the standards or rules that apply to CILEX members?
CILEX standards are closely aligned to those of the SRA and the majority of members work for SRA-regulated firms, meaning they have to comply with its rules already.
The regulatory framework reflects the status established within the Legal Services Act that CILEX Lawyers with practice rights can operate equally alongside solicitors as authorised persons, the only difference being the general or specialist scope of their practising certificate and their qualification route. That will remain.
21. Will this cost CILEX members more?
The Legal Services Act, in requiring independent regulation, established a model whereby the practising certificate fee is set by the regulator. Currently, this is CRL but this responsibility would transfer to the SRA if CILEX delegated regulation to them.
There is a requirement for all legal regulators to consult members each year when setting the fee, ahead of submission for approval by the LSB, and this will not change.
The cost of regulation through CRL is already higher for individuals than what solicitors pay (currently £367 vs £306). In addition, since 2016 CILEX has subsidised the cost of regulation significantly. This will not be necessary with the SRA.
22. CRL’s recent consultation showed little appetite for a change in regulator. Why is CILEX pressing ahead?
CILEX’s consideration is based on the public interest. It is not a matter of choice or preference of our members.
CILEX has a duty both as an Approved Regulator under Section 28 of the Legal Services Act 2007 and of Rule 1(3) of the LSB Internal Governance Rules to “periodically review and, if reasonably practicable, improve its arrangements,” and as a Chartered Body to act in the public interest.
The Case for Change outlines the public interest reasons why CILEX believes it is necessary to consider a change to its delegation.
23. If agreed, when will a change of regulation happen?
The consultation is open until 5 November 2023. The CILEX Board will consider the outcome at its meeting on 29 November and will decide whether to make an application to the Legal Services Board to change its delegation to the SRA. The LSB has up to 90 days to make its decision. The Privy Council will also need to approve any amendments to our Charter.
The SRA will separately consult on changes it has to make to enable it to regulate CILEX members.
Therefore, the earliest any change would come into effect would be 1 April 2024.
24. As a CILEX entity do I need a solicitor partner / director to be recognised by the SRA?
No, under the proposals (page 17 of consultation – section on ‘standards for regulated firms’), the SRA has confirmed that it will change its rules to recognise those firms who are led by a CILEX Lawyer. This applies to both existing CILEX firms who will transition but also to any future entities established by CILEX Lawyers.
There will be no need, therefore, for any change in governance or structure for existing CILEX entities and there continues to be the opportunities for CILEX lawyers to set up firms in future. CILEX-entity will be a new category within the SRA’s framework and therefore CILEX entities will benefit from SRA regulation and access to its recognised logo scheme and associated access to lender panels, insurance, banks and approved supplier lists whilst still retaining their CILEX identity and structure.
25. Will SRA Regulation include Higher Rights of Audience?
Work is already ongoing by CILEX and CILEX Regulation Limited to allow CILEX Lawyers to be granted Higher Rights of Audience, it is therefore anticipated that should a change of regulator be agreed, this will be part of the authorisation that will transfer to the SRA.