First female Chartered Legal Executive judge named

First female Chartered Legal Executive judge named       

Elizabeth Johnson (3)

31 January 2019

Elizabeth Johnson has become the first female Chartered Legal Executive to be appointed to the Judiciary.


Elizabeth, a Chartered Legal Executive and Associate in the Exeter office of Ashfords LLP, has been appointed as a Fee-paid Judge of the First-tier Tribunal, assigned to the Social Entitlement Chamber. The appointment was effective as of 25 January 2019.


She is a personal injury specialist with over 20 years’ experience in all aspects of injury, insurance and liability claims.  She will continue with her work at Ashfords and is likely to preside over her first hearing in March this year.


Elizabeth qualified with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) in 1998 and worked for Beachcrofts before joining Ashfords eight years ago. In 2017, she took part in CILEx’s Judicial Development Programme, aimed at providing members with information, support, training, mentoring and encouragement when preparing to make their application for a judicial appointment.

Elizabeth says, “I am very excited to be appointed as a Judge, and to be the first female CILEx Judge is a real honour. Whilst the application process is tough, I have demonstrated that, with the right skills and expertise, it is achievable. I hope that my appointment will encourage more Chartered Legal Executives, and women, to apply for judicial office.

“I wasn’t aware that Chartered Legal Executives could apply to the judiciary until I heard about CILEx’s training programme.  I’m not one to shy away from a challenge and after a lot of thought and research I was confident that I would be a strong candidate.

“The support from CILEx meant I benefited from expert advice on how to complete competency-based applications and mentoring from CILEx-qualified District Judge Stephen Nicholls. This support was invaluable in giving me the knowledge and confidence to go ahead.”

CILEx President Philip Sherwood says: “There is currently considerable under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in our judiciary. This urgently needs to change to ensure the judiciary better reflects the society it serves. Elizabeth’s appointment sends a message to our members, 75% of whom are women, that the judiciary is a potential career path for them.”

Elizabeth’s appointment comes at a time when CILEx is pushing for Chartered Legal Executives to be allowed to apply to all levels of the judiciary, as they are currently unable to apply for posts higher than district judge.

There are currently two other Chartered Legal Executives sitting as judges as well as a number of solicitors who initially qualified as Chartered Legal Executives.



For further information, please contact:

Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 07525 756 599 or email:

[email protected]

Louise Eckersley, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208  or email:

[email protected]

Notes to Editors:

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The 20,000-strong membership is made up of Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.

CILEx members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator covering paralegals.

CILEx provides training, with qualifications open to those holding GCSEs, A levels or a degree. Over 100,000 students have chosen CILEx over the last 25 years, with the majority studying whilst in full or part-time employment.

CILEx provides a non-graduate route to qualification as a lawyer, and those who complete the full CILEx qualification are known as Chartered Legal Executives. They can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.

Those who complete the full CILEx qualification are known as Chartered Legal Executives. They can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.

The membership is diverse – 75% of members are women and 14% are from a BAME background.