Breaking down the barriers

ILEX – Breaking down the barriers to social mobility

24 March 2009 pr009.09

“We already practice what the government preaches”. That is the message from the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) in its response to the government Panel on Fair Access to the Professions.

For over 40 years ILEX has been delivering exactly what the Panel have been empowered to consider in its report back to government, namely that everyone who aspires to be a lawyer has an opportunity of doing so, no matter what their education, background, age, gender or ethnicity.

Since its foundation in 1963 ILEX has provided an alternative to the traditional route to a career in law, enabling nearly 84,000 people from all walks of life to commence a career as a lawyer. It has also worked tirelessly to ensure that the ILEX route has been improved and developed to offer the widest range of legal career opportunities to its members.

ILEX believes through its history, background, processes and procedures it can provide the Panel with a ready-made role model for other professions to look at in their drive to improve social mobility.

“ILEX has already had to tackle and overcome many of the issues and obstacles that the Fair Access Panel will be looking at,” said ILEX President, Mark Bishop.

“We know there is a pool of bright young talent out there that would love to be able to follow a career in many of the professions, but are prevented by either an educationally disadvantaged background, or the soaring costs of higher education.

“Our route into the legal profession is truly open to all whatever their background. Through our qualifications, flexible learning philosophy and ‘earn and learn’ route, ILEX has been able to offer tens of thousands of talented lawyers an opportunity for a career in this competitive profession that otherwise may have been denied them.

“Whilst we cannot claim to have all the answers to the issues the Panel will be considering, ILEX does have a wealth of experience we can draw on, particularly in relation to attracting members from disadvantaged backgrounds or backgrounds where families did not traditionally follow a career in the law. Our submission to the Panel covers these areas among others and we are happy to make our expertise and experience available to the Panel members.”


  • 75% of all ILEX members are female (traditionally under-represented in the law sector).
  • 13% of ILEX members are from a Black or Minority Ethnicity (BME) background, rising to 15% among students. This compares with an average of 7% across the legal profession.
  • 36% of members studied with ILEX because they could not afford to go to University, and 11% because they could not afford the post-university Legal Practice Course.
  • 81.5% of ILEX members do not have parents who attend university, and only 2% of ILEX members have a parent who is a lawyer.
  • The average student debt is between £20,000 and £30,000. The cost of a full ILEX Course to equivalent university level (i.e. honours degree standard) is around £3,500. During training many the majority of ILEX students work within the Legal profession, earning around £60,000 during the four year’s of average study time.
  • The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is the professional representative body for Legal Executives. Alongside Barristers and Solicitors, Legal Executive Lawyers are recognised under the Legal Services Act 2007 as qualified Lawyers. Recent developments also mean that Legal Executive lawyers are eligible for judicial appointments.ILEX provides policy response to Government consultations in order to represent its members and the public interest.

For further information, contact the ILEX Press Officeon +44(0)1234 845713 or email [email protected].

Posted 24.03.09