What is CPQ?

Chris Glennie Blog

What is CPQ and what makes it different?

For the avoidance of doubt, and just to get it out of the way, let me start by saying what CPQ – the catchy acronym for CILEX’s new professional qualification framework – is not: It is not simply a revision of CILEX’s current suite of Level 3 and Level 6 qualifications. Important though that development would be, it would not be worthy of the amount of hoop-la we will be making about it.

Think of CPQ as not just upgrading from one version of Windows but replacing your operating system wholesale with something newer and more versatile. While I should make clear that migration from one to the other will be possible (and be the subject of a future post), the fundamental principles and ultimate outcomes of CPQ are very different from what has come before.

Firstly, we very deliberately do not talk about “qualifications”, but instead about a “framework”. Onto this framework are hung elements of formal and informal learning, some delivered by the trainee’s chosen training provider, some by CILEX itself, and some via the trainee’s employer. Trainees make their way through the framework at their own pace, and are able to “step off” at designated points that will come with a professional status reflecting - and communicating to employers (whether current or future) - their level of knowledge and competence.

Secondly, but very much related to the point above, each stage of CPQ (and note, we talk about “stages” not levels, as that latter terminology is very much the language of formal qualifications) consists not only of formally assessed learning, but also a verification by their employer of a trainee’s actual competence in the workplace. This is unusual: most professional bodies require a period of professional work experience to be verified only after successful completion of all of the formal assessments (so, if you step off early, your work experience is never formally validated). Not so with CPQ: this ensures that trainees at every stage have not only acquired knowledge and skills, but will have successfully demonstrated them in an actual workplace. The progressive nature of this over a number of stages and years also builds trainees’ confidence.

Thirdly, because we know that the way legal professionals will need to behave and the way that legal services will be delivered in future, CPQ doesn’t just cover the essential black letter law required by the regulator, but also the wider set of practical skills, behaviours and commercial awareness that employers are now and will increasingly be seeking. Indeed, it is the close collaboration with employers that has guided the development of CPQ’s direction and content, as well as the underpinning competency framework, which makes us confident that it will meet its desired aims.

And the point of all this? Well, the point is to produce legal practitioners at every level of an organisation (whether paralegal or full lawyer) who will be professionally qualified and recognised as such; who will have acquired a clearly defined set of skills and competences and the confidence to deploy them; and who will therefore be adding real value to their employers from a very early stage in their careers.  Those who go all the way through every stage of CPQ will emerge as fully-fledged CILEX Lawyers with the full right to practice in their chosen specialist area of law. And that’s different.

Chris is the Programme Manager for the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) project with responsibility for delivering new framework to market on time and to budget, working across CILEX to ensure all the project workstreams collaborate and coordinate effectively. Chris’ professional background encompasses both publishing higher education textbooks and working in professional membership and awarding bodies developing qualifications and training courses and leading membership, marketing and business development teams.