Introducing… CILEX Paralegal
In an earlier post, I introduced the concept of the CILEX Lawyer, and conveyed CILEX’s ambition that they should be as familiar to everyday folk as solicitors or barristers.
Now I want to say something about CILEX Paralegals, because in many ways it’s just as important for CILEX that people understand what we are doing in the professional space underneath that occupied by fully qualified lawyers.
We all know that “paralegal” is a generic term used to cover a multiplicity of jobs, roles or functions within law firms. While used of those who are either not yet qualified, or for those who fulfil vital functions with no desire or ambition to progress further, it is imprecise: To CILEX’s enormous chagrin, it has been applied to Chartered Legal Executives, despite these latter having a Level 6 (i.e., degree) level qualification and years of professional practice. This, of course, is one of the drivers behind the creation of the CILEX Lawyer status.
But this imprecision means that being a “paralegal” leaves people untethered to a formal career path and unable easily to communicate their level of professional competence - to friends, family or employers alike. There’s no readily accessible mental model for “paralegal”, who can range from being school leavers performing simple administration to law graduates trying to get a foothold on a professional career. Describing paralegals becomes under these circumstances like describing Liquorice Allsorts: no two are alike.
This leaves everyone – employees, employers, consumers – frustrated. Until now.
With the introduction of the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), not only are we branding CILEX Lawyers as a co-equal branch of the legal profession with solicitors and barristers, but we are creating the kind of formal definition of and structure around the paralegal role that the market desperately needs.
Firstly, the Competency Framework sets out the competences expected of a paralegal, and at a more sophisticated level, of an advanced paralegal.
The CPQ Foundation and Advanced stages are build out from these competency statements: the content and assessment of the CPQ modules, allied to the professional experience requirement, ensure that anyone completing those stages is competent at the required standard.
Being competent means not just that the trainee has leant relevant material in theory, but has learned how to put it into practice.
Successful completion of these 2 stages will allow trainees to call themselves CILEX Paralegals or CILEX Advanced Paralegals respectively, communicating thereby to the wider market their level of professional knowledge and competence.
So, with the launch of CPQ we are signalling our intention, alongside the proper recognition of CILEX Lawyers, for CILEX Paralegal and CILEX Advanced Paralegal to be accepted as the de facto standard for those not qualified to full lawyer status. Adding this level of precision to the term “paralegal” will help paralegals stand out in an otherwise amorphous crowd. And that’s good for employers and consumers too.