Matthew Huggett takes over as CILEX President
25 July 2022
Employment law specialist, Matthew Huggett, has taken over as the 59th President of CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives). Speaking at the CILEX AGM on 19 July, he promised to champion the CILEX route into a legal career and prioritise improvements to the working lives and career opportunities of CILEX members.
Matthew began his legal career in his 30s and worked for manufacturers’ organisation, EEF (now known as Make UK) for over 20 years before joining Carbon Law Partners in 2018. He advocates for clients in employment tribunals and advises employers on discrimination, dismissal, restructuring, TUPE, absence and performance management, equal pay, collective and trade union matters and contractual disputes.
He is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and the Industrial Law Society, and a former Secretary of the West of England branch of the CIPD.
Speaking at the CILEX AGM, Matthew, said:
"The legal profession would have been entirely closed to me if CILEX had not existed. For many, it simply isn’t possible to fund a legal qualification when you have a mortgage to pay and children to support. It certainly wasn’t an option for many of our members and certainly wasn’t for me, to leave my role to undertake my studies."
"This is one of the reasons that CILEX has such an important place. It provides access to the legal profession to a wider, more diverse group of aspiring lawyers and is not dependent on being able to afford to go to university. It is not dependent on you burdening yourself with significant levels of debt with no guarantee of legal work at the end of it. It is not dependent on you securing a training contract."
"Talented individuals from all walks of life have access to the legal profession through CILEX. We are the only branch of the legal profession that can genuinely say this."
One of Matthew’s key priorities is to improve the working environment for CILEX members, after last year, a survey of over 2000 CILEX members found they faced discrimination and a lack of respect from employers, despite their qualifications and experience.
"Today, we continue to face challenges. CILEX members are still, in many instances, treated poorly in comparison to our other legal colleagues in the profession…. CILEX members are often battling and challenging a system, fighting a status quo which does not always provide us with parity in comparison to other lawyers. We want to change that."
"We are also working hard to remove the final legal and regulatory barriers to ensure that every CILEX Lawyer will be able to do exactly the same work as a solicitor, levelling the playing field for our members."
Matthew succeeds personal injury law specialist, Caroline Jepson and will chair the board of CILEX Professional as well as sitting on the main board of CILEX.
His inauguration at this year’s CILEX AGM was followed by the announcement that CILEX is initiating formal talks with the Solicitors Regulation Authority to explore a possible proposal to transfer the regulation of its members.
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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 that creates a workforce of specialist legal professionals, that can ultimately qualify 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:• 76% of its lawyers are women
- 16% identify as being Black, Asian or another ethnic minority
- 84% attended state schools
- 31% 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.