CILEX reports widespread support for reform agenda
CILEX reports widespread support for reform agenda
11 January 2024
CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) has reported strong support from the profession, employers and consumers for its plans to change the way CILEX members are regulated and introduce clearer professional titles.
The reforms to CILEX’s governance, membership structure and regulatory delegation are aimed at enhancing 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 Enhancing Consumer Trust and Confidence consultation was live between August and November last year and saw just over 1,200 individuals respond, with input from employers, consumers, CILEX members, professional bodies and the wider legal profession. CILEX also commissioned IPSOS Mori to conduct a poll of 2,237 members of the public.
CILEX, operating in the public interest as an approved regulator under the Legal Services Act 2007, today publishes its report of the consultation and indicates that it remains committed to its reforms, with modifications to some of its proposals as a result of the feedback.
The consultation received majority support among respondents across all proposed changes. Key findings include:
- 67% of CILEX members support proposals for 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
- Consumers taking part in independently facilitated roundtables as part of the consultation process were unfamiliar with the title of Chartered Legal Executive and supported the clarity provided by the introduction of specialist Chartered Lawyer titles.
- All questions relating to proposals to redelegate the regulation of CILEX members to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) achieved at least a 60% positive response.
- Consumers taking part in the roundtables were concerned to learn of the existing, separate regulatory arrangements for solicitors and CILEX Lawyers, of which they were unaware, expressing support for changes that would see both groups regulated in the same way and provide uniform protection and consistency.
- 82% of employers agreed that the proposed re-delegation to the SRA provides the opportunity to establish and maintain consumer confidence that lawyers, regardless of their route into law, are subject to robust processes and are required to meet and maintain high standards of competence.
- Proposals to establish a new paralegal standards framework and career ladder, offering the opportunity to become a Chartered Paralegal linked to a professional register were universally supported amongst legal services providers and paralegals, with 67% of CILEX members in favour. 71% believed such a move would enhance public trust and confidence.
- 82% of respondents supported extending voting rights and enabling representation from all member grades to sit on the CILEX Professional Board. 90% of respondents supported the widening of the eligible pool for appointment as president to include Chartered Paralegals in addition to Chartered Lawyers.
Responses to the consultation have led CILEX to make revisions to the new titles. They will include ‘CILEX’ to retain the link to CILEX qualification and distinct professional identity as ‘CILEX Chartered Lawyer’. Revised titles would include specialist titles only for those conducting reserved work (such as CILEX Chartered Litigator and Advocate and CILEX Chartered Property Lawyer), but those undertaking unreserved work could choose to put their area of specialism at the end of the title, e.g. CILEX Chartered Lawyer (Employment).
In relation to proposals to redelegate the regulation of CILEX members to the SRA, CILEX is seeking additional assurances and clarifications from the SRA in respect of issues raised, namely:
- How it will regulate CILEX Paralegals and other non-authorised person categories of CILEX members;
- Its independence from the Law Society and the provision of an equal voice for the CILEX and solicitor professions;
- Assurance regarding the cost of regulation and the principle of no cross-subsidy, in light of the Axiom Ince case;
- More detail as to how it will fulfil its commitment to preserve the distinct identities and routes into the law of solicitors and CILEX Lawyers; and
- Consideration of how SRA branding can be adapted to better reflect its jurisdiction regulating a range of legal professionals.
CILEX’s Linda Ford says: “We are encouraged by the engagement we have had from our members, employer organisations and from across the legal profession, as well as the consumer research we have undertaken. These insights have been extremely useful in ensuring that any changes we make will be in the public interest, improving consumer trust and confidence and supporting the important role CILEX professionals have in the delivery of legal services.
“These are important reforms that have the potential to drive positive change for both the consumers and providers of legal services. CILEX is now working towards providing additional assurances, clarity and detail, with a view to finalising our proposals in the near future.”
The next step will be to prepare a formal application to the Privy Council to secure changes to CILEX’s Royal Charter and byelaws.
Following the SRA Board meeting on 23 January, at which it will consider the outcomes of its own consultation, CILEX will announce its next steps with regard to its regulatory delegation.
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’s consultation, Enhancing Consumer Trust and Confidence was published for a twelve week period from 14 August 2023 to 5 November 2023.
A total of 1211 individuals contributed responses through a combination of an online questionnaire, in-person member roadshows, webinars, employer roundtables and stakeholder meetings.
CILEX held a series of 18 member events in eight locations across England and Wales and a series of online webinars. CILEX held eight employer and two consumer roundtables, met with key stakeholders and invited organisational responses by email.
Two consumer roundtables with 14 participants were facilitated by an independent agency to obtain feedback from consumers, together with interviews with agencies who represent consumer perspectives including those from vulnerable groups. A further 2237 members of the public participated in a poll conducted by IPSOS Mori.
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.