Everybody knows what a lawyer is… don’t they?
I’m willing to bet that if you meet somebody at a party or at the pub and you tell them you are a “lawyer”, their brain instantly creates a kind of mental model as to what that meant.
They might think to ask a follow-up question – “Solicitor or barrister?” – but likely as not they’ll ask where you work (“Oh, really? No, never heard of them, sorry”) before moving on to more interesting topics of conversation (“How do you know Sarah?”, “Did you see the England vs Czech Republic game last night?”, that sort of thing). After all, everybody knows what a lawyer is, don’t they? Don’t they?
Maybe. The mental model itself is not altogether unhelpful: it’s the kind of heuristic that enables us all to get through life on a daily basis, after all. What isn’t helpful is that in most people’s minds it boils down to the binary choice encapsulated by the follow-up question that may or may not be deployed in polite society.
Well, only computer code is binary, and CILEX is on a mission to ensure people understand that there’s a third option: CILEX Lawyer.
Simply put, CILEX Lawyers are CILEX Fellows with full rights to practise unsupervised by an authorised person (e.g. solicitor) in a specialist area of law (including having advocacy rights where these are needed). They are specialist practitioners at the point of qualification (although this is underpinned by a broad legal education), in contrast to solicitors, who are generalists when they initially qualify, and specialise only later.
While routes exist for current Fellows to become CILEX Lawyers, they will be marked out in future by having undertaken the new CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ). This competence-based professional qualification framework, developed after extensive engagement with employers, ensures that the legal profession continues to be open to all who are ambitious to prosper within it, regardless of background or whether they attended university or not.
CPQ contains elements not seen before in a professional legal qualification. It focusses on the one hand on people skills: on collaboration; on communicating effectively in both legal and business contexts; and on emotional intelligence. On the other hand, CPQ covers organisational and businesses processes and objectives; basic finance; the importance of data in process improvement and optimising customer experiences; and on how legal technology plays an ever-increasing role in the delivery of legal services.
While it is axiomatic that sound legal knowledge is fundamental to successfully practising as a lawyer, CPQ recognises that that success can equally be founded on knowledge and understanding of people and organisations. By having this wider perspective, CILEX Lawyers are well positioned to deliver the kind of service that customers – businesses, government, private individuals, etc. – are increasingly coming to expect.
What is more, for an individual contemplating a career in the law, who is ambitious to practice at the top of the profession, but who at the same time might lack the financial and cultural support that have traditionally been needed to enter the profession, we say: come and join us.
Becoming a CILEX Lawyer will allow trainees to earn while they learn, to gain essential knowledge, skills, competence (and confidence) along the way, and come out at the end as a specialist lawyer who can operate independently and add real value to their employing organisation right from the start.
How will we know when we have succeeded in our mission? When you tell somebody you are a lawyer and straightaway they ask: “CILEX Lawyer?”
Find out more about becoming a CILEX Lawyer