CILEX consults on next stage of reform agenda
CILEX consults on next stage of reform agenda
14 August 2023
CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives), operating in its capacity as a public interest body and Approved Regulator under the Legal Services Act 2007, today opened a consultation into the next stage of its reform agenda, laying out plans to change the way its members are regulated as well as introducing clearer professional titles.
The aim is to enhance public understanding, trust and confidence that lawyers of equal standing are held to the same professional standards and offer consumers the same levels of protection regardless of route to qualification. The consultation also seeks to increase awareness of CILEX lawyers as chartered specialists and to recognise CILEX paralegals as a distinct regulated profession.
The consultation, which is open to responses from CILEX members, professional bodies, regulators, consumer groups and the wider legal profession, seeks views on the following proposals:
- Extending voting rights from only CILEX Fellows to all CILEX members.
- 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 these areas of practice.
- Establishing a new paralegal standards framework and career ladder that offers the opportunity to become a Chartered Paralegal linked to a professional register.
- Creation of 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).
The consultation outlines the benefits to consumers and improvements to the delivery of legal services, as well as how the changes will aid social mobility and diversity of the legal profession.
It also guarantees that the distinct identity of CILEX Lawyers, Paralegals and CILEX-led entities will be maintained, along with the separate CILEX route into law and the specialist nature of the qualification and scope of authorisation based on practice specialism.
The recommended change in title reflects research that shows ‘Chartered Legal Executive’ can confuse both clients and employers. The consultation proposes aligning the Chartered Lawyer title awarded to CILEX Fellows on qualification to reflect their specialist practice areas, e.g. Chartered Property Lawyer and Chartered Corporate Lawyer.
Following an independent review of its evidence base by Chris Kenny in 2022, and subsequent consideration of a response received from CILEx Regulation Limited following its own consultation earlier this year, the board of CILEX has concluded that redelegation to the SRA offers the best opportunity to meet the public interest outcomes that it laid out in its Case for Change. These are that the prospective regulator can:
1. Operate at sufficient scale to deliver efficient and effective regulation at a cost that is affordable for consumers and the profession;
2. 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;
3. 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
4. Provide equal treatment and recognition of legal professionals regardless of route to qualification and provide equality of opportunity for individual practitioners and entities.
CILEX Chair, Professor Chris Bones says: “This consultation outlines the next stage in our evolution, driving positive change for both consumers and providers of legal services.
“Following recent successes removing legislative, policy and funding barriers, we are pushing on with our reform agenda, looking at how we can create a sustainable regulatory framework with the drive towards a more diverse, accessible and equitable legal profession at its heart.”
CILEX CEO, Linda Ford says “We want to encourage both the legal profession and consumer bodies to engage with this consultation process so that we can ensure that the changes we make benefit both society and the legal sector. The changes will also ensure that our governance structure represents best practice in the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and provides merit-based opportunity.”
The consultation is open until 5 November 2023. After considering the responses, CILEX will lay out its next steps with a view to amending the CILEX Charter to accommodate the proposed reforms. The SRA will separately consult on changes it has to make to accommodate CILEX members.
For further information, please contact:
Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208 / 07525 756 599 or email at [email protected]
Notes to editors:
CILEX (The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The approximately 20,000-strong membership is made up of CILEX Lawyers, Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.
CILEX pioneered the non-university route into law and recently launched the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), a new approach to on-the-job training that marries legal knowledge with the practical skills, behaviours and commercial awareness needed by lawyers in the 2020s.
The CPQ is a progressive qualification framework that creates a workforce of specialist legal professionals, providing a career ladder from Paralegal through to Advanced Paralegal and ultimately full qualification as a CILEX Lawyer. CILEX Lawyers can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.
CILEX members come from more diverse backgrounds than other parts of the legal profession:
- 77% of its lawyers are women
- 16% are from ethnic minority backgrounds
- 8% are Asian or Asian British
- 5% are Black or Black British
- 3% are from a mixed ethnic background
- 85% attended state schools
- 33% are the first generation in their family to attend university
- Only 3% of its members have a parent who is a lawyer.
CILEX members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator covering paralegals.
Linda Ford is CEO of CILEX