General FAQs

Why is CILEX changing its professional qualification?

CILEX’s current Level 3 and Level 6 qualifications are over 10 years old. In that period, not only has the delivery of legal services changed, but so have the skills and knowledge that employers are asking for from their trainee and newly qualified legal professionals. Over the course of those 10 years CILEX Fellows have also gained the right to practice unsupervised in a specialist area of law. However, during that period, only around 1% of our members have gone on to acquire their full practice rights.

The new qualification framework acknowledges and embeds both the skills, knowledge and behaviours that employers will be expecting of newly qualified legal professionals and the process for CILEX Lawyers to acquire their practice rights.     

How is CPQ different from the current qualifications?

CPQ is underpinned by the CILEX Professional Competency Framework, which articulates the activities and behaviours required to progress through the stages of a career in legal practice. CPQ’s three stages (CPQ Foundation, CPQ Advanced and CPQ Professional) provide a smoother, progressive learning experience and a transition between stages that is in line with a trainee’s progression in the workplace.

CPQ focuses on a smaller number of core modules, with fewer options, that each combine law and practice to create a more practical and consistent learning experience. Assessments will be delivered online. And because CPQ provides a different kind of outcome, we think it’s important that professionals who qualify through this route are recognised with a distinct title.

By introducing the titles CILEX Lawyer, CILEX Paralegal and CILEX Advanced Paralegal, that can be used by those successfully completing the relevant stages, we’re making it easier for clients – businesses and individuals – to identify and access appropriately qualified legal professionals. And we’re making it easier for our members to signal their expertise and qualifications, broadening access to a career in the law alongside the other branches of the legal profession.

What is the timetable for change?

CPQ Foundation and CPQ Advanced stages are being introduced in June 2021 with CPQ Professional stage following in 2022. The first assessments for CPQ Foundation and CPQ Advanced stages will be held in January 2022. 

What exemptions are there for the CPQ and if you’ve already received an exemption on Level 3, does this transfer to CPQ?

We will always review any previous law qualifications that an applicant has obtained but cannot guarantee that this will lead to an exemption. Exemptions previously granted against the legacy qualifications will carry through to CPQ where they apply. A statement of our transitions policy for those studying our current qualifications can be found here. Please note that this is still subject to regulatory approval.  

How does the new CPQ affect my existing qualifications and how do I know if I am already qualified as a CILEX Lawyer?

With the introduction of CPQ, your current qualifications continue to be valid. If you have completed the Level 6 Diploma you should continue to qualify as a Fellow using the current work-based learning portfolio process and then gain your practice rights by becoming a CILEX Practitioner either by portfolio. A CILEX Practitioner will be a CILEX Lawyer.

How do I transition to CPQ from Level 3 and what is the path to becoming a CILEX Paralegal or CILEX Lawyer from there?

Having completed the CILEX Level 3 Diploma with the necessary units to gain exemptions against CPQ Foundation stage, students can either enrol on to CPQ Advanced stage or on to the current Level 6 Diploma. More information on transitioning to CPQ can be found here.

On completion of Levels 3 and 6, what would I need to do further to complete CPQ?

If you have completed the Level 6 Diploma you should continue to qualify as a Fellow using the current work-based learning portfolio process and then gain your practice rights by becoming a CILEX Practitioner either by portfolio. A CILEX Practitioner will be a CILEX Lawyer.

Do I have to be in employment to start studying CPQ?

You do not need to be in employment to start your CPQ studies. However, without being in employment you will not be able to complete your Professional Experience requirement. Should you complete all the formal assessments at Foundation stage but are not yet in employment, or feel that the work you are doing does not allow you to complete your Professional Experience, it is possible to progress on to begin your Advanced stage study. If you wish to pursue this option, please contact our Customer Services Team. Note that you will still need to complete your Foundation stage Professional Experience before being awarded the corresponding membership grade, and will remain a CILEX Student.

Will somebody be able to qualify as a solicitor through CPQ?

We are in discussion with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) about potential exemptions to the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) for those people who qualify as CILEX Lawyers via CPQ. CILEX Lawyers will be exempt from the Qualifying Work Experience requirement.

What subject pathways are available?

Pathways are available in:
• Dispute resolution
• Criminal law and litigation
• Conveyancing
• Business and employment law
• Family law
• Probate
• Immigration
To achieve practice rights in a pathway, students must study both the CPQ Professional stage module and the CPQ Advanced stage module that underpins it.

What will the cost of CPQ be?

It will be possible to qualify as a CILEX Lawyer i.e., complete all three stages of CPQ, for £12,500, including tuition through CILEX Law School. Other Approved Training Providers will also deliver CPQ courses, but CILEX does not take responsibility for the fees that they may charge. Final costs will be published well in advance of CPQ registrations opening in June 2021.

How many modules are there in CPQ?

There are 22 assessed modules in total across CPQ, of which trainees are expected to study a maximum of 12: 

• CPQ Foundation stage consists of five mandatory modules
• CPQ Advanced stage consists of four mandatory modules and one optional module, which the student must select from three options
• CPQ Professional stage consists of one mandatory module and one optional module, which the student must select from nine options.

The choice of module at CPQ Professional stage must be underpinned by the corresponding module at CPQ Advanced stage. Students must also all complete two Ethics and Professional Responsibility e-learning modules delivered directly by CILEX. Students wishing to acquire a practice right in Dispute Resolution, Family Litigation or Criminal Litigation will also be required to undertake an Advocacy Course.

How long will it take to complete each CPQ stage?

Learners will complete CPQ stages at their own pace. The time it takes to teach each stage is dependent on the delivery model of individual training providers. However, we estimate that the following timings should be possible:

• CPQ Foundation stage: 18 months to two years
• CPQ Advanced stage: 18 months to two years
• CPQ Professional stage: 12 to 18 months.


What is a Chartered Legal Executive?

Fellows of CILEX are qualified lawyers who are entitled to use the title Chartered Legal Executive (CLE) and the designatory letters FCILEx.

As a Chartered Legal Executive, you can practise unreserved legal activities without supervision and can act as a Commissioner for Oaths (certifying that the declaration in official documents has been signed before a lawyer). Non-reserved legal work includes will writing, some employment law matters and general legal advice.

As a CLE you can only undertake reserved or regulated legal activities if you are under the supervision of a solicitor or other authorised person. Reserved or regulated legal activities are those specified under statute, including the Legal Services Act 2007 and the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (s84):

• Exercising Rights of Audience (Advocacy)
• Litigation
• Probate activities (some aspects)
• Conveyancing (some aspects)
• Immigration work

What is a CILEX Lawyer?

CILEX Lawyer status will be awarded by CILEX to those current members who either have or will have completed professional development and demonstrated their competence against the additional regulatory standards required to obtain practice rights authorisation. The CILEX Lawyer brand acts as a kite mark reflecting the standard required of our members.

CILEX Lawyers are able to undertake one or more of the reserved/regulated legal activities without supervision as a result of holding independent practice rights in their specialist area. It is this authorisation that establishes CILEX Lawyers as having parity with solicitors.

What is the difference between a CLE/Fellow and a CILEX Lawyer?

An existing Fellow is a CLE and is awarded these designations upon authorisation by CILEx Regulation.

A CILEX Lawyer is a CLE/Fellow who also has practice rights either through a top-up route or as a new entrant, by achieving all stages of the new CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ).

A CLE who requires practice rights but has not achieved authorisation by December 2023 will remain a CLE and a Fellow of CILEX but not be able to use the designation of CILEX Lawyer.

As an existing CLE/Fellow how do I achieve CILEX Lawyer status?

As an existing Fellow you will be permitted to call yourself a CILEX Lawyer if you:

• Already hold practice rights in your specialist practice area; or
• Commit to achieving practice rights authorisation by December 2023; or
• You can demonstrate you only work in a specialist area of practice which is unreserved.

To obtain practice rights authorisation you will need to demonstrate to CILEx Regulation(CRL) your competence against the Practice Rights Standards. These are additional standards beyond those tested during your initial qualification as a CLE.

The current CRL authorisation process requires you to submit a portfolio demonstrating you have 5 years post qualification experience with at least two years having been obtained in the specialist area in which practice rights are sought. The cost is £450.
CILEx Regulation has developed an alternative top-up route to authorisation that will allow competence to be validated through an assessment. This is intended to provide a faster route to authorisation for those who either struggle with the time commitment to complete a portfolio or who are working in a legal role with limited scope to meet the portfolio requirements.

When will the top-up route be available?

In September 2021 CRL announced that the University of Law had been appointed to administer its alternative route to authorising Chartered Legal Executives who would like to apply for additional practice rights – details here. A pilot phase with a limited number of applicants is being conducted in Autumn/Winter 2021. Subject to LSB approval, it is expected that the route will be open to all Chartered Legal Executives who have more than 5 years of qualifying employment in early 2022.

If I do not obtain practice rights and I specialise in a reserved/regulated area of practice, will I lose my Chartered Legal Executive/Fellow status?

No, your current status will not be affected or downgraded. You will still hold a practising certificate as a Chartered Legal Executive, you will remain a Fellow of the institute and be entitled to use FCILEx.

What is the difference between a lawyer and a CILEX Lawyer?

“Lawyer” is not a protected title and can be used by anyone with a legal qualification. CLEs without practice rights will still be able to refer to themselves as lawyers.

CILEX Lawyer is a title that carries CILEX endorsement of having achieved a specific standard of competence and practice experience. As a CILEX branded lawyer you will be recognised as having parity with solicitors and capable of being able to practice without supervision, provided you work in a regulated law firm or as an in-house lawyer.

Does CILEX Lawyer create a two-tier profession?

All CILEX Fellows, whether a CLE or CILEX Lawyer, are valued members of the institute and recognised lawyers within the wider legal profession.

The difference is the scope of authorisation to practice. This differentiation already exists between Fellows with or without practice rights.

Many legal roles do not require practice rights, and these will remain available to all CLEs. However, for those roles which involve the undertaking of reserved activities, the addition of practice rights will ensure CILEX Lawyers will be eligible alongside solicitors.

How will CPQ help other grades of CILEX member obtain practice rights?

Any member of CILEX who is not yet fully qualified and who may choose therefore to complete their studies via the new CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), regardless of whether they are a transition student or a direct entrant to CPQ. Authorisation from CILEx Regulation for practice rights will be included as part of the CPQ.

Consequently, all CPQ graduates will be able to use the title CILEX Lawyer in addition to receiving a practicing certificate as a Chartered Legal Executive and FCILEx.

Any member who graduates via the legacy qualification will have access to the practice rights top up programme alongside existing Fellows, resulting in CILEX Lawyer status.

What benefit will I get from practice rights and calling myself a CILEX Lawyer?

Increasingly, we are seeing members coming up against practical barriers in their day-to-day working lives, in relation to the undertaking of reserved activities. In part, this is due to the digitisation of processes, particularly in conveyancing and probate, which has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic and remote working. This is making it harder for members to work independently to execute legal services where the name or signature of an authorised person with the relevant status is required. As a CILEX Lawyer you will be recognised as an authorised person alongside solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers. Without practice rights you will require their formal supervision to undertake this work.

Regulators have also provided greater clarity that supervision and direction requires the authorised person to be identified and to confirm they take full responsibility for, and have full knowledge of, actions carried out on their behalf. Consequently, this means CLEs will require more direct involvement by a solicitor in any reserved aspects of their casework.

CILEX recognises there is a perception in the sector, that lawyers qualified via the CILEX route are not as competent as solicitors and are not therefore afforded the same recognition or career opportunities they deserve, this is aggravated by the need to be supervised for reserved activities. If CILEX is to succeed in challenging the treatment of CILEX Lawyers and to establish eligibility for the full range of legal careers, it is critical that our lawyers have the practice rights needed to demonstrate parity of standards and right to practice independently.


When will CPQ be first assessed?

The first CPQ Foundation and CPQ Advanced stage assessments will be held in January 2022.

How many assessments are there in the CILEX Professional Qualification?

Each module has one assessment, except the Foundation Professional Skills module Advanced Professional Skills module which have two. This means that a trainee completing the whole of CPQ will sit 14 assessments, as well as completing the two Ethics & Professional Responsibility e-learning modules and Professional Experience at each CPQ stage.

How many assessment opportunities will there be annually?

We will review demand for subsequent years with the expectation of increasing the number of assessment opportunities over time. Ethics & Professional Responsibility e-learning can be completed at any time of the trainee’s choosing. However, we do advise that Ethics & Professional Responsibility 1 is attempted early, as it contains important elements for the trainee to understand as they embark on training as a CILEX Paralegal, CILEX Advanced Paralegal or CILEX Lawyer.


As a training provider, will I be able to use CPQ to support apprenticeship programmes?

Yes. While the apprenticeship standards may undergo revision over the next few years, we are able at this time to propose ways in which CPQ may be used to deliver apprenticeship programmes once the legacy qualifications are no longer open to new entrants. The paralegal apprenticeship standard prescribes no on-programme learning, so you are free to devise a course that suits your delivery model.

CILEX will recommend the CPQ modules that are relevant, and these will be provided as part of an apprenticeship package. The paralegal end-point assessment (EPA) will allow exemptions to CPQ Foundation stage as detailed here. These exemptions can be used by apprentices who wish to continue onto the CPQ Foundation stage or onto the CLE apprenticeship.

Please speak with your CILEX account manager for further details.

As an employer, will I still be able to use my apprenticeship levy to support the training and development of my staff?

Yes, CPQ will support the delivery of apprenticeships. Please speak to your training provider about how this may be done.

I am a paralegal apprentice, how does CPQ affect me?

Your apprenticeship programme is designed to meet the requirements of the paralegal standard. There are no mandatory qualifications in the paralegal standard, and so any change to CILEX qualifications does not alter your apprenticeship.

You should, however, speak to your training provider about whether you will be eligible to complete any current (i.e., non-CPQ) CILEX qualifications before exam sessions are no longer available – see here for more details.